UX Roles — Allrounder vs. Specialist

ux design

Currently, I am working as a UX/UI Designer. But I am not sure if this is an appropriate term for the job I do. Isn’t UI more a part of UX, and not on the same layer with UX? And isn’t UX a fundamental part of the whole product itself? That makes me always wonder. 😳

Are you feeling the same about all these names for different (or maybe the same) UX roles in the digital product industry?

There are tons of UX jobs out there and you probably stumble across countless job titles while scrolling through all the platforms. That’s why I took some time to have a closer look and give you a brief overview of different roles and titles.

⚖️ Allrounders vs. specialized roles

There are many different opinions on whether UX generalists or specialists are more suitable for the digital industry. I think it always depends on the situation, the product or the company.

Large companies with many projects, teams and employees can split UX roles and have highly specialized people for single important tasks. For smaller companies, startups or entrepreneurs, on the other hand, this possibility often does not exist – if only from a financial perspective.

There, generalists are needed, namely designers who are familiar with the entire process, from research and everything related to it, over prototyping to testing.

Let’s take a look at the different roles.

UX roles: Product Designer, UX Designer, UX Researcher, UX Writer, UI Designer, UX Consultant
UX roles: Product Designer, UX Designer, UX Researcher, UX Writer, UI Designer, UX Consultant

🍰 Allrounders — A piece of every cake

UX Designer

You will find the role of a «typical» UX Designer in smaller to mid-sized companies or start-ups, but also at big corporates. In the smaller companies one person or a really small design team is responsible for all the design related work and has to cover the whole design process. In the corporate world one or two UX designers are often part of the development team and as there are multiple teams, there’s also a bigger need for designers.

This means you can’t just focus on research, architecture, or writing, but you have to make compromises. Consequently, with limited time, often limited resources, and the awareness that you can’t do everything perfectly, you work and do your very best in all areas to move a product forward.

What are the tasks of a UX Designer? 🦄

As a UX Designer you’re responsible for the main UX topics:

  • Do research + analysis
  • Write user stories
  • Set up user flows and customer journey maps
  • Create information architecture
  • Design prototypes and wireframes
  • Conduct usability testing

Jobs for UX Designers are also labeled as:

  • UX/UI Designer
  • Experience Designer
  • Interaction Designer

Product Designer

As a product designer, you are in many things similar to a UX designer. But you also look for the whole product and not only its user experience.

In your work, you always have user and business goals in mind. You contribute to the product roadmap and are also involved in more strategic work.

What does a Product Designer do?

You will do a lot of the same tasks as a UX Designer would do — everything from research to testing. But you will be also involved in strategic tasks like working on product roadmaps or communicating and coordinating with many other stakeholders outside your explicit design work, like marketing, the management, or team leaders.

Additionally the UX Designer’s work tasks could be:

  • Meetings/coordinating stakeholders
  • Defining the roadmap
  • Leading projects and/or a team

🤿 Specialists — Diving deep

UI Designer

UI Designers are – as the title already says – mainly working on the user interface of a product.

Therefore your work starts more or less at the end of the design process where it comes to the final design. You are the master of color, typography and the look and feel of the product.

What does a UI Designer do?

  • You can be responsible for:
  • Maintaining UI libraries
  • Setting up a Design System
  • Create Hi-Fi prototypes
  • Care for consistent interactions
  • Organize a smooth design handover to dev

Sometimes you could be involved in some front-end dev work if you are a designer who can code (at least a little bit).

UX Researcher

As a UX Researcher you are the expert for finding out what users really need, where they get stuck or on which ends to improve a product. You main focus lies on research work.

The main goal of your daily work is to empathize with and understand the users. Your methods help you to find out the needs and problems of the users and in some companies you’ll often collaborate with people from the product and marketing team.

The methods you’re using depend on your research goals, as well as the available time and resources.

What does a UX Researcher do?

UX Researchers do qualitative and quantitative research like:

  • Conduct user interviews
  • Writing and running surveys
  • Executing usability tests
  • Finding out about information architecture with e. g. card sorting
  • Doing heuristic evaluations

Researchers analyze the gathered data, evaluate it and draw conclusions. Your work will for example result in reports, user stories or user journey maps that will help your team mates and stakeholders to make further decisions.

UX Writer

UX Writer jobs are fairly new in the industry and have only been on the job market for a few years. Sometimes UX Writer roles are also named as Content Designer, but actually it is the same. The written word plays an important role in the user experience and more and more companies are recognizing this potential.

As the job title implies, it’s about the written micro-copy in a product and you’re responsible for all copy in a product. Some examples would be button texts, placeholders, or error messages.

In contrast to marketing you don’t wanna sell with words, but make the UX of a product as smooth as possible by using the right words in the right place. 💬

What are the tasks of a UX Writer?

  • Craft concise product content
  • Audit, edit and refine existing copy and ensure consistency
  • Collaborate within cross-functional teams

UX Consultant

I do UX consulting my own and mainly focus on creating design systems for startups, entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized companies.

If you search for some help to design your product, need a design system to get startet or want to improve your whole design process, but don’t want to long-term hire a UX specialist, UX consultants are ones to reach out.

What are UX Consultants doing?

Depending on what a UX consultant is focused on, different tasks could be part of the job:

  • Provide audits of websites, apps, or saas products
  • Perform user research and deliver outcomes such as empathy maps, or user journey maps and help companies to get a clearer understanding of their customers’ needs
  • Creating design systems (e. g. for MVPs)
  • Designing low- and high-fidelity prototypes
  • Perform usability testing
  • Educate teams on how to integrate UX design into their existing processes

To sum it up

Hence, there are many different roles in the UX industry and my list is certainly not conclusive. Additionally, there are an infinite number of different names for positions or hybrids of the individual roles. In addition to generalists like UX and Product Designer, there are often dedicated roles at larger companies that are focused on a specific areas of the design process.

In addition to the corporate roles, there are also UX consultants, who can be generalists or specialists, and often tailor their offering to best serve their clients.

Now that you have a broad overview of the different roles, which one would you choose? Or have you already decided and are working in one of these roles?

Does my definition match your day-to-day work, or is there something you would add or leave out? I appreciate your feedback and I’m curious to know which role is right for you.

Connect with me on LinkedInPolywork or Twitter and tell me your story. I am looking forward to meeting you! 👋