Simply put, a UX designer is responsible for ensuring that a product works for its users, that user experience is at the forefront of design, and that customer satisfaction is not just considered but is championed, throughout the development process.
In essence, a UX designer is responsible for representing a user’s needs — how well a product, feature, or concept works for its intended target, is largely down to the UX designer. Tasked with spotting opportunities for improvement — be it fixing an irritating bug, removing friction, or adding more enjoyment into the user experience — a UX designer is substantially involved in delivering customer satisfaction.
As such, UX designers are highly sought after in organizations of all kinds.
A UX designer’s role touches on everything that has to do with a user’s experience of the product. This goes beyond basic functionality, incorporating considerations such as size, packaging, portability, how easy the product is to update/upgrade, and even how and where the product will be stored in a user’s home.
UX designers consider the what, the why, and the how of product design, giving organizations a deeper understanding of customer motivations — this insight helps teams to design products that users will engage with meaningfully.
Products that provide a smooth, enjoyable, and useful experience throughout the customer journey have more staying power and will be far more attractive to users in both the short and long term. Much of a UX designer’s work is dealing with marginal gains, which can add up to huge benefits for the organization.
Despite being a vital and sought after role, there remains a lot of confusion around what exactly a UX designer’s role does and doesn’t include.
One of the most common misconceptions stems from the presence of UI (user interface) Designers within a team. The job descriptions for UX and UI Designers are often used interchangeably, which is a mistake.
For one, user experience can refer to any and all interactions with a product. What’s more, this "product" could be anything from a website, to a car, to a set of flat-packed furniture, or a make-up kit. Essentially, there is no limit to a UX designer’s remit.
User Interface, on the other hand, refers only to digital products, e.g. websites, mobile apps, or the touchscreen in your car’s dashboard. A user interface designer is responsible for designing the best possible look and feels for a product’s digital interface — an intuitive menu, a semiotic color palette, a pleasing tactility.
Of course, UX and UI will often need to work together, to ensure the best possible product result. As designer Helga Moreno explains, “Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.”
For a product or feature to be successful, both UX and UI need to be considered.
UX designers need a diverse skill-set, incorporating a range of technical and design competencies, as well as great project management, communication, problem-solving and collaboration abilities. As such, many of their skills and responsibilities will overlap with those of the dedicated project manager.
However, almost every product or software team will benefit from separating these roles, and having a dedicated UX design expert on board — capable of identifying the full range of challenges a user might encounter — will help you deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Wherever possible, a UX designer will add value to product development and should be included.