How to understand and explain design roles in 1 minute
Navigating various design roles is tough, especially for people outside of the design industry and IT. Here’s how mapping the roles against steps of the design process makes it easier.
The product design process consists of 4 steps: find a problem to solve, explore potential solutions, define how a particular solution should behave, look and feel.
Where does each design role sit?
UX researcher, interaction designer, and UI designer
These roles own separate stages of the process and organize their work accordingly.
First, UX researcher (technically not a design role) defines potential user problems. Then, an interaction designer figures out how potential solutions to these problems should behave and hands over to a user interface (UI) designer to work out look and feel.
UI designer (sometimes called visual designer) is the most familiar role as the closest descendant of a graphic designer. It exists in 2 types of organizations. In companies big enough to have a narrow specialization, UI designer teams up with UX or interaction designers for complex projects. In smaller companies, the position exists when leadership misunderstands design work for making products look pretty.
UX and Product designer
Product designers are involved across all stages — from discovering problems to defining visual design.
The scope for UX designers is narrower: the heart of UX design is problem-solving, but some of them are also involved in problem definition. It is also common for the role to hand over the look and feel part to UI designers on complex projects.
This doesn’t explain all the details and nuances but helps to understand the fundamental difference between the roles.