UX Specializations. Let your skillset do the talking this time.

Banner image — illustration of light blue person with orange trousers, sitting over a blue horse and plane yellow background
Image: Cathal Duane on Behance

Nothing to a designer
Designer to a Web Designer
Web designer to a UX/UI Designer
UX/UI Designer to where?

Such a long journey isn’t it? still, it’s not the end yet.

If you’re a UX Designer, you must know how the industry is right now. Most of the visual designers(not everyone) titled themselves as UX/UI Designers, just to survive in the industry. In such situations as being an original among carbon copies, you must be working hard to retain your identity.

Don’t you think you should step out of the crowd now?

Yes, maybe it’s time for you to leap in your career from a generalist to a specialist. This article helps you understand different specializations under UX Design, and help you find your perfect fit.

Most recognized specializations of design are…

  1. UX/UI Designer (Generalist)
  2. UX Researcher
  3. UX Architect
  4. Visual Designer
  5. Interaction Designer
  6. UX/UI Developer
  7. Motion Designer
  8. UX Writer
  9. Usability Analyst

If you feel any of these are not really part of the UX Design process, trust me, they are.

1. UX/UI Designer

A computer with wireframe stencils, coffee, Macbook in front of it
Credit: Unsplash

If you’re reading this article, either you’ve heard about this role quite a number of times or you might be one of them.

As a UX/UI Designer, you’re expected to be part of all UX activities starting from User Research to Usability Testing. You’re responsible for delivering User Personas, Journey Mapping, Information Architecture, Task flows, Wireframes, Interface Design, Prototyping, Usability Test, etc.

For any given project, deliverables can be defined by the purpose of the project (Design Fresh, Redesign, Usability Evaluation, etc) and also the type of product you’re trying to build.

UX/UI Designer responsibilities include:

  • Conducting user research to understand user psychology.
  • Create personas through user research and data.
  • Find creative ways to solve UX problems (e.g. usability, findability).
  • Developing task flows and Information Architecture.
  • Define the right interaction model and evaluate its success.
  • Develop wireframes, UI, and prototypes around customer needs.
  • Conduct usability testing and gather feedback.
  • Collaborate and communicate design ideas and prototypes to developers to create intuitive and user-friendly products.

Most of the startups or agencies focus more on making money, and cannot really afford a specialist for different stages of UX Design. Besides, product companies see their product from a wider perspective and understand the need for a specialist over a generalist. Let‘s check out some specialists now.

2. UX Researcher

A group of people discussing over a topic on a table with laptops, tabs, mobiles and notepads.

Pexels

As the title says, a UX Researcher is specialized in conducting user research. Using different qualitative and quantitative research techniques they collect the information and then translates the information into a structured format. This information acts as a base for the rest of the design process.

Based on research goals, UX Researchers use a definite set of research methodologies and gather their research data. This data helps them in making powerful design decisions backed up data. Methodologies include:

  1. User Interviews
  2. Surveys (online)
  3. Focus group interviews
  4. Observations
  5. Documents or Journal study
  6. Case Studies

Sometimes if the requirement targets a redesign of an existing product, research methods may include Heuristic Evaluation, First Click Testing, Task Analysis, etc.

UX Researcher responsibilities include:

  • Plan and implement user research strategies and methodologies.
  • Conduct primary and secondary user research.
  • Conduct and evaluate quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Perform market and ethnographic research.
  • Perform competitor analysis.
  • Work closely with cross-functional teams to identify and evaluate research topics.
  • Advocate research findings to diverse audiences through written and oral presentations.
  • Perform usability studies with consumers.
  • Ask questions, gather data, and analyze data.
  • Use a diverse set of UX research tools like SurveyMonkey, UserTesting.com, Google Analytics, Hotjar, etc.

3. UX Architect

Group of people discussion over research data by sticking sticky notes on a whiteboard

Unsplash

UX Architect is pretty much similar to a UX Designer, except that they won’t have any take on visual design. An Architect conducts research, interviews, surveys, and then translates the data into information architecture(IA), sitemaps, user flows, wireframes, and prototypes, etc.

The UX Architect takes the responsibility of completing complex tasks in minimal steps without affecting the user experience of the product.

An Architect sets up the system and process that will be used to design the final product.

UX Architect responsibilities include:

  • Conducting user research to understand user psychology.
  • Create personas through user research and data.
  • Find creative ways to solve UX problems (e.g. usability, findability).
  • Developing task flows and Information Architecture.
  • Define the right interaction model and evaluate its success.
  • Develop wireframes, UI, and prototypes around customer needs.
  • Conduct usability testing and gather feedback.
  • Collaborate and communicate design ideas and prototypes to developers to create intuitive and user-friendly products.

4. Visual Designer

Every time you see a shot on dribbble that tickles your eyes, that is created by a Visual Designer. A Visual Designer is a creative individual dealing with Colors, Icons, Fonts, Layouts, UI components, UI Composition, Illustrations, etc. They work for different platforms like a Mobile App, Website, Branding, Print, etc.

As a Visual Designer, you‘re expected to delight users with a design that inspires, engages, and excites them.

User Interface (UI) design is one of the many skillsets of a visual designer. and must be capable of turning the wireframes into a colorful and meaningful user interface. The interface should respect the decisions made in wireframes and enhance the experience as much as possible.

Visual Designer responsibilities include:

  • Present the user-interface visually so that information is easy to read, easy to understand, and easy to find.
  • Generate clear ideas, concepts, and designs of creative assets from beginning to end.
  • Interpret the storyboards to tell visual stories that support learning.
  • Work collaboratively with other designers to ensure a consistent, integrated brand perception and user-experience.
  • Collaborate with a cross-functional team that includes engineers, product managers to create simple, easy-to-use software.
  • Translate client business requirements, user needs, technical requirements into designs that are visually enticing, easy to use, and emotionally engaging.
  • Staying in the loop and on top of the latest standards, changes, trends in the visual design field.

5. Interaction Designer

Canvas full of mobile UI wireframes and a designer marking flow with threads and pins

Unsplash

What should happen when I click on this?
How the system should react to user actions?
How to collect more info without messing with experience? etc.

These are some questions we usually have while building products. There is a role in UX Design, which deals with these exact situations.

As an Interaction Designer, you’ll tackle complex tasks and transform them into intuitive, accessible, and easy-to-use designs for billions of people around the world — from first-time users to experts.

Achieving this goal requires collaboration with teams of designers, researchers, engineers, and product managers throughout the design process — from creating user flows and wireframes to building user-interface mockups and prototypes.

Interaction Designer responsibilities include:

  • Conducting user research to understand user psychology.
  • Create personas through user research and data.
  • Find creative ways to solve UX problems (e.g. usability, findability).
  • Developing task flows and Information Architecture.
  • Define the right interaction model and evaluate its success.
  • Develop wireframes, UI, and prototypes around customer needs.
  • Conduct usability testing and gather feedback.
  • Collaborate and communicate design ideas and prototypes to developers to create intuitive and user-friendly products.

6. UX/UI Developer

Illustrations showing a designer and developer sitting on each side of table and an arrow above them showing design to code.

Invision

This one’s a hybrid guy. He is a half designer and half developer. Sometimes they are responsible for designing and writing the code for the project, whereas sometimes he is just the bridge between designers and developers. In the industry, few even consider him a unicorn of the design industry.

UX/UI Developer responsibilities include:

  • Everything that is there in UI/UX Designer
  • Build front-end part of the designs using different programming languages like HTML, CSS, JS, Angular, etc.
  • Attention to details like interactions, animations, transitions, and feedback for different UI elements.
  • Communicate the functional aspects of design to other developers.
  • Collaborate and communicate design ideas and prototypes to cross-functional teams and help them create immersive product experiences.

7. Motion Designer

3d illustrations moving animation on mobile onboarding screens.

Motion designers help tell a product’s story, guide users, improve usability, and make the experience responsive and fun.

As a Motion Designer, it’s your job to apply your passion for animation to simplify complex interactions and solve challenging design problems. This includes driving the creation of best practices, collaborating with visual and interaction designers, and working with other product teams.

Motion Designer responsibilities include:

  • Design and create enticing motion graphics for video deliverables (corporate videos, eLearning, websites, marketing demos, etc.)
  • Prepare design plan, concept, and layout for motion graphic project.
  • Create and deliver motion graphics in various media including web, mobile, etc.
  • Work with art and creative teams to understand project scope and objectives.
  • Assist in selecting audio, video, colors, animation, etc. for graphic design.
  • Work with editors, producers, and other designers to resolve technical and/or design issues.
  • Edit raw video footage and add effects/elements to enhance motion graphics.
  • Research and analyze best design techniques and solutions to create motion graphics.
  • Assist in designing and creating storyboards.
  • Participate in brainstorming sessions to share new design perspectives and ideas.
  • Maintain and follow best practices for versioning control, naming convention, and organization of graphic files.
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge about the latest graphic design techniques.
  • Ensure compliance with company guidelines and design standards.

8. UX Writer

404 Error screen by Pixar. “Sad from Inside out movie” asking user not to cry because of 404 error.

Pixar

Words are magical. If they aren’t, Medium won’t exist today.

Human cognition has this tendency to establish its connection with anything that can talk human. In other words, people like to hear “Oops!” instead of “Error:404” .… Again it’s a human-y thing.

UX Writers help shape product experiences by crafting copy that helps users complete the task at hand.

They work with a variety of UX design-related roles including researchers, product managers, engineers, marketing, and customer operations to help establish connective language and a unified voice.

UX Writer responsibilities include:

  • Create and edit end-to-end user experiences across digital platforms to improve onboarding, errors, instructions, features, and more.
  • Drive and champion product language to ensure a cohesive narrative.
  • Document your strategies with guidelines, ensuring a consistent tone and voice.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams like designers, user researchers, legal, marketing, product managers, and engineers.
  • Take a data-driven approach to usability studies, and optimize copy to enhance the product’s growth.
  • Tackle stakeholders and making them understand the decisions made in terms of copywriting.
  • Ability to storyboard and visualize the ideology behind each narrative and present it to cross-functional teams.

9. Usability Analyst

How do you know if your recipe worked or not?

Yes, you must test it. The time invested so far in building your masterpiece must be evaluated with the real users to know its eligibility to go into the market. Usability test helps us validate the design decisions, the usability of the product, functional aspects, business goals, etc. of a product

Usability test to be performed by experts by defining tasks for the users to complete and evaluate the time is taken, emotional aspects, the behavior of users towards the product. If there is anything that blocks the way then your product should be iterated before it leaves the lab.

Usability Analyst responsibilities include:

  • Experience in planning, estimating, designing, executing, and analyzing performance tests.
  • Customer service, research, and analysis skills for analyzing the test data and make design decisions that help improve the product.
  • Good communication and writing skills to conduct interviews and communicate the outcome through documentation.
  • Stay on top of new technologies and current trends to anticipate consumer needs.
  • Requires imagination to think of ways of improving your company’s products.
  • Should be able to implement the overall performance test strategy and lead best practices and standards.

Conclusion

The design industry has thrice the number of UX/UI designers compared to the last few years.

It is not always the industry that is changing, but it’s us who is looking for growth.

According to the current market situation, there is a very less chance that a designer will be ignored by someone. If you are a designer and being removed or ignored by any organization, that is your skillset they are looking at. Let them know your true potential by filling the gaps or learning new skills and they’ll definitely come looking for you.

There’s always scope for learning something new, until our last breath.

References:
From not just one, but many great writers and their articles from the internet. Thank you all for your inspiration and knowledge.

#designforall

Like