To most people I’m sure debating job titles seems a waste of time and self absorbing, and it is, but for me it’s been enjoyable. It’s forced me to think further about why I use the term UX Designer as opposed to other titles and has made me more comfortable about my decision.
The key reason I call myself a UX Designer is because the other titles are too restrictive.
I like to conduct user research, delve into traffic stats, send out surveys to users, conduct user testing sessions, do interaction design, information architecture, visual design and some front-end coding. If the rest of the business world saw this as falling in the scope of a Web Designers role then I’d call myself a Web Designer – but that’s not what I’ve experienced.
The diagram above illustrates how I believe the majority of the business word perceive the roles of the various job titles that abound for designers. I’m not saying this is an accurate representation of what the roles entail either. I’ve worked with usability consultants whose skills expand well outside of what I’ve illustrated, same with web designers and the other titles, but again it’s my view on how others in the business word perceive the roles and responsibilities of the various job titles.
I see the title UX Designer as a title that describes someone who uses a broad range of techniques and methodologies from a variety of more specialised professions to help reach a solution. I see UX Designers as designers more willing to utilise approaches from these more specialised professions to create better design solutions. That’s not to say UX Designers are more talented than the specialists either. For example I’m comfortable doing the Information Architecture for a website but I wouldn’t be comfortable coming up with the classification system for a phone directory like the Yellow Pages. Another example is that I haven’t studied cognitive sciences or psychology so I’m not totally comfortable calling myself a usability expert but I do conduct user testing sessions to inform my design work.
At the heart of it is that the title Web Designer is perceived as someone who creates Photoshop mockups and builds them into HTML & CSS, maybe some Flash as well. A UX Designer is perceived to be someone who has a broader range of skills that can help business get to know their customers better and therefore create better designs for them.
PS. I’m conscious that Designers are infamous for over thinking things and for being sensitive and I realise this discussion doesn’t help that perception but hey, discussing these things in detail brings deeper understanding.