Design Roles – What is a UI Designer?


It is quite scary when you have been in an industry for more than 20 years and you are seen as expert in the field, and you see a job advert that has a role that you have never heard of before.

This happened to me about 18 months ago and people are still advertising for that role. The role in question was a UX Architect. What the hell is a UX Architect? Is it someone that designs the user experience of a solution architecture. Is it someone that only focuses on information architecture. Who knows? – clearly the recruiter that wrote the advert didn’t either.

After seeing more and more jobs that muddy the water I thought I would share my viewpoint. Here are the jobs that should and shouldn’t be advertised across Design and Analysis (excluding management roles). Obviously, there is cross over between roles and a lot of collaboration involved.

Job roles that should be advertised

These roles and descriptions should be used.

UX Designer

Responsible for designing the user interface by using human centred design practices, and the outputs of any analysis or research.

UX Researcher

Responsible for researching how the user works day in day out. What problems they have, what opportunities exist, and how this translates to the solution.

UX Consultant

This is a combination of the UX Designer and UX Research roles.

UX Writer

Sometimes known as a Content Strategist or Content Writer. They are responsible for the content that is used in the solution. Works with the UX researcher to ensure that the terminology matches the language of the user.

Also works with communications and marketing to ensure the style and language match across all collateral.

Visual Designer

Works with brand, communications and marketing to ensure that any solution matches the brand guidelines.

Works with the UX Designer to ensure the look and feel match the user requirements and accessibility standards.

Doesn’t “make it look pretty”.

Service Designer

Responsible for looking at the full end to end process. Works with the UX designer to specify the parts of the end to end process that involve interfaces.

Market Researcher

Researches the current, or potential market of the solution. Including competitor analysis. Doesn’t do user research – this is the UX Researchers job.

Data Analyst

Also called a Data Scientist. A Data Analyst works with data that is collected by the solution. They identify trends and groupings, which are provided to the UX Researcher and UX Designer for further investigation / changes.

Business Analyst

Responsible for analysing current and future state in order to provide process optimisation recommendations. Responsible for producing requirements. Has a very large cross-over with a Service Designer.

Role can split into four sub roles:

  • Digital BA – A Business Analyst that predominately focuses on mobile and web solutions.
  • System BA – A Business Analyst that predominately focuses on a single system (i.e. ERP)
  • Technical BA – A Business Analyst that has an understanding of the technology used for a system and any associated constraints.
  • Process BA – A Business Analyst that maps out current business processes in order to identify optimisation opportunities.

Job roles that should be avoided

These roles and descriptions should be avoided.

UX Developer

I know there are small companies/start-ups out there they may need one person to cover both design and development tasks. But the problem with this job title is that larger companies are using in their recruitment to mean a front end developer. Which causes conflicts and confusion.

While we are talking development I like to keep it simple and have three roles:

  • Front end developer
  • Back end developer
  • Full stack developer

The descriptions can then contain the technical stack that is involved.

Instead of using UX Developer it would be better if job adverts combined the roles “UX Designer + Front end developer (dual role)”.

CX Designer

What does a CX Designer do? Do they design the interface – therefore they are a UX Designer. Do they design the full end to end process – therefore they are a Service Designer.

Are they designing for a Customer or a Client. The C in CX has been used for both of these, and there is a difference.

So many unanswered questions from a job title.

I reckon a better description for a CX Designer is that they design the way the internet is run on Christmas Island as CX is the two digit code for websites on Christmas Island. Remember an acronym is only as good as the context it is used in.

Job roles that should never be used

These roles and descriptions should never be used.

UX Architect

As I stated in the intro not even recruiters know what this is. So stop using it and stop polluting job adverts with new invented titles.

While I have you here, another invented title that I personally hate is “Growth Hacker”. If you go by the words in the job title surely it’s someone whose job is to hack into competitors in order to gain their customer database and IP and use it to grow the company they work for.

UI Designer

Probably the most controversial recommendation. But it has to be done. Let’s remove the use of UI designer from our job boards. This is the biggest culprit of being used for multiple different jobs. There are people that use the job title to mean:

  • UX Designer
  • Visual Designer
  • Both UX and Visual Designer combined

In my opinion there is no clear winner in terms of either volume or definition. Even Wikipedia doesn’t have a specialist UI design page. But is does have pages for UX Design and Visual Design.

So let’s remove it.

What we use at Siso

For full transparency here is Siso’s actual Job table. We don’t have long winded job descriptions. We simply have a table of roles.

UX Consultant· User Research
· Personas
· Information Architecture
· UX Design
· Co-Design Workshops
· UX Testing
Visual Designer· Visual Design
· Branding
· Marketing collateral
· Presentation collateral
Business Analyst· Requirements gathering
· Business Rules
· Requirements documentation
· Gap Analysis
Comms Advisor· UX Content
· Content Audit
· Content Strategy
· Documentation
· Comms collateral
Solution Architect· Solution Design
· Enterprise Architecture
· Technical Specifications
Front End Developer· Front End Code
· User Interface code
Full Stack Developer· Front End Code
· User Interface code
· Back End Code
· Database Schema
· Database Development
· API Development
Back End Developer· Back End Code
· Database Schema
· Database Development
· API Development
Software Tester· Functional Testing
· System Testing
· User Acceptance Testing co-ordination
Product Owner· Product Management
· Backlog Management
· Scrum Master
Customer Support· Support triage and resolution
· Feature request management