A UX Designer’s Job is More Than Wireframes

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Call it “product design,” call it “experience design,” or even “man-bear-pig,” but I still prefer to be considered a “user experience designer.” UX design is a field I’ve worked in for almost a decade and I have a deep respect for its history and the depth and knowledge of classic experts in the field: Don Norman, Jesse James Garrett, Alan Cooper, Ginny Redish, or Bill Moggridge.

Working with startups as a freelancer the past two years, I’ve noticed a bias against the label “UX Designer.” I’ve even been told that “UX designers don’t ship,” as to suggest that UX designers just create artifacts and documentation, rather than shepherding product forward. Which is certainly a bias I can understand, but I believe that any great designer is by definition a UX/product lead. It’s our responsibility to think through all the functional elements of a product, consider technical constraints, balance design options and come up with user-centered solutions.

As for the contributions of a UX designer Here are the roles I’ve taken on as of late, while focused first and foremost on user experience (essentially everything except for backend development):

While I’m able to take on a broad spectrum of tasks, this by no means makes me a unicorn. My speciality is in functional design, with secondary skills in visual design and front end development. I think that’s the reality: that we all have a specific areas of focus as a designer, with secondary skills that help us contribute more broadly and get product out the door.