What does a UX designer actually do? An expert's guide

Before answering the question, "What does a UX designer do all day?" it's important to know that user experience (UX) design is different from user interface (UI) design. Unfortunately, people tend to use them interchangeably.

To understand UX design and what a UX designer does, we will explain their skills and roles and provide answers to your top queries about UX designers, such as "What does a UX designer actually do?" or "What is the actual role of a UX designer?"

Who is a UX designer?

A UX designer is someone or a team tasked with the responsibility of building the kind of product the target users will love or enjoy. They are the crossroads that incorporate the ideas and needs of a project's users, clients, developers, and stakeholders.

For best results, a UX designer must follow a design thinking process that includes defining the product, conducting research, analyzing results, brainstorming ideas to solve users' problems, prototyping, testing, and launching a product. Even after launching a product, a UX designer oversees the product's iteration as feedback comes in.

What does a UX designer do?

One of the best ways to explain a UX designer's day-to-day work is to classify their responsibilities using different criteria like basic roles, company size, experience level, etc.

1. UX design responsibilities based on primary roles

A UX designer's basic role involves conducting research, wireframing, prototyping, usability testing, product review, etc.

User Research

User research is all about learning users' problems, behaviors, and motivations through interviews, surveys, or product usage analyses. But contrary to what many amateur UX designers may think, it is one of a UX designer's preliminary and essential tasks that can help them record great successes.

Persona Development

Meanwhile, if getting feedback through normal research processes proves futile, UX designers use a persona development (PD) method to achieve great results. The next step is to iterate the final product as they get real-world feedback.

Just so we're on the same page, persona development is a UX designer role that involves creating user profiles based on perception and data from different sources rather than those carried out in-house. After that, the UX designers put themselves in their users' shoes and brainstorm ideas for solving users' problems based on their results.

Wireframing

One of the major responsibilities of UX designers is to make sketches or simple visual representations of the product to be created. This is called wireframing. Wireframes contain the basic elements of a product design and their respective position. That way, it becomes easier to prototype and iterate.

Usually, the UX designer tasked with wireframing must familiarise themselves with the project's design specification and core UX principles to get exactly what the client or project manager demands or realize high-fidelity prototypes.

Prototyping

Besides wireframing, a UX designer ensures that product developers bring their ideas to life through prototyping and regular iterations. Although a UX designer may not develop the product directly, they ensure that the low-fidelity prototypes created meet the project's design specifications and roadmap. By addressing that, they can actualize high-fidelity prototypes worthy of clients' or users' feedback.

Usability Testing

After prototyping, a UX designer ensures the launched products function efficiently or meet users' design needs. This is where they do usability or UI testing — a process to monitor real users as they navigate or use a product.

Data Review and Analysis

After testing and confirming that the product works, a UX designer continually monitors, reviews, and analyses its traffic or usage data, user experience, and scalability potential. This will help the project team to make necessary adjustments at the right time or avoid future complications after launching the product.

2. UX design responsibilities based on company size

Sometimes, the size of a company affects the job description of a UX designer.

Startups

Usually, UX designers who work with smaller companies or startups do multiple roles or tasks that bigger companies will usually separate into other specialties. For instance, one person may have to do most of the primary stuff like research, wireframing, designing, and UI testing.

Mid-sized Companies

Growing or mid-sized companies usually have a small team of three or more designers who oversee the company's UX design processes. Nevertheless, one person may still be tasked with two or more activities, though more manageable than startups.

Large Companies

Bigger companies have a team or department of UX designers with defined specialties. The reason is that they can probably fund the department. Another reason would be the need to protect their product's quality, as a minor error or problem could affect the company's economy and image.

3. UX design roles based on career stage

Another way to classify UX designers' roles is through their experience level or career stage, as we'll discuss below:

Entry-level UX designer

An entry-level UX designer typically has less than one year of experience in UX design. At this stage, they may have done only a few real-world projects and regularly need supervision to complete tasks or projects. Usually, you'd find them in internships or junior designer positions.

Mid-level UX designer

Mid-level UX designers have two or more years of experience in UX design. By now, they have a quality portfolio of real-world projects and may need little or no supervision to complete projects when working with a team of designers.

Senior-level UX designer

Senior-level UX designers have many years of experience in UX design. They do not need supervision but will instead be supervisors in a project. Usually, they chair UX design teams and ensure that other levels of designers complete their tasks with little or no problems.

Main types of UX designer jobs

Earlier, when we discussed "UX design responsibilities based on company size," we mentioned that large companies have UX designers with defined specialties. Here are some standard UX designer titles or names you may see:

UX Designer

UX Designer is a common and often generic title used to identify people who design websites and applications for desktop or mobile devices.

Interaction Designer

Sometimes, UX designers may want to be specific using "interaction designer." This is just a UX designer who primarily creates interactive product touchpoints. Their focus goes beyond designing the product to creating experiences that help users solve their daily problems faster.

Product Designer

A product designer is a practical UX designer with extra skills in sales and marketing, architecture, and engineering. Usually, they take an idea from the stakeholders and oversee that the final product meets clients' and customers' demands, including their economic budget and goals.

Service Designer

Service designers brainstorm and implement new ideas or improve existing ones. We often call them innovation designers or solutions architects because they help design software solutions that solve individual and business goals.

Skills of UX designer (soft and hard)

Another way to know what UX designers focus on is by their skills. These skills are either soft or hard based on how they are applied to solve UX design challenges.

Soft skills of UX designer

Soft skills are more about a UX designer's behaviors and principles than activities or performance. Here are a few of them:

Empathy

With a paradigm shift in human-centered design, empathy is a must-have skill of every UX designer. That allows designers to put themselves in their users' shoes and build products based on their users' actual needs.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking usually follows empathy closely. It is a skill that helps designers evaluate every piece of information and develop quick and better answers or solutions to any design problem. Critical thinking in design keeps designers curious and on their toes over design situations.

Communication and Collaboration

Usually, UX designers without proper communication skills and team spirit suffer so much with project execution that they eventually drag the team behind. This is because they can only achieve results when they ask questions and effectively relate the information they know to the other team members. Otherwise, they are as good as not in the team.

Time Management

Deadlines are part of every project, and managing time effectively is a must-have skill for every UX designer. It shows that the UX designer understands discipline. Truthfully, no matter how good you are, someone else can always replace you if you're undisciplined as a designer.

Hard skills of UX designer

Although hard skills determine a UX designer's expertise and involvement in a project, they complement soft skills. Examples are as follows:

Information Architecture

UX designers are product architects. So, their duty also includes organizing or mapping UI content in the most usable and effective way that allows for easy execution and end-user benefits.

User Research and Analysis

Above everything else, UX designers are principled researchers. They do not only rely on gut but on facts backed with data. This is because they know that without research, they are blind to what their end users need and may create products that end up in the garbage section of the internet.

Conclusion

UX design is a skill and process that requires discipline. If not, a UX designer risks creating undesirable products for their users. Hopefully, this guide has opened your eyes to the primary things to know about UX designers and their roles and skills in the tech industry. Furthermore, finding a UX designer these days is easy.

However, finding the right one with discipline and a great understanding of design thinking principles takes time and effort. As a team of UX design experts with decades of senior-level experience, you can count on Dworkz to work with you to build products that stand the test of time. Kindly see our case studies for proof of our expertise, or contact us directly.

FAQ

Is it difficult to find a good UX designer?

With the vast talents of all experience levels scattered across the internet, finding a good UX designer should be easy. For starters, LinkedIn, Toptal, Upwork, or a recruitment agency are great places to look. However, we recommend using a UX design agency.

What tools do UX designers use?

UX designer role requires the use of different tools or software to achieve their product design goals. Such tools include Adobe XD, Figma, Miro, Illustrator, InVision, Airtable, and so on.

What is the actual role of a UX designer?

If you're still asking, "What do UX designers do?" Well, they are the architects behind virtually any great app or website you use to achieve daily results. Their roles may, however, vary according to the company's size or career levels. As the size of a company increases, you'll find UX designers with defined specialties working together.

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