The myth of the "UX designer"

I truly dislike seeing these articles around "UX" designers. Every other week they go on and on about how they're not just UI designers, or web designers, and about how there are so many very important distinctions. 

Lets define something. UX equates to user experience. The user experience may be in fact, the most important thing your company has. Do you know who is responsible for creating a good user experience? EVERYONE ON YOUR TEAM. EVERYONE.

UI designers simply control the experience around the visual interface. A lot of the UX might go into that, and it is the designer's responsibility to defend and enhance that experience.

However, it is the entire team's responsibility to make sure things work properly, quickly, and in such a way that the user enjoys using the service or product (this is usually a great way to eat your own dog food, and test your products).

News flash: Good solid design, in any sense (code or visual), is an iterative process. This means it needs to continually change and grow based on feedback, data, and conversion rates. If you're a programmer working somewhere, and your "UX" person does something that you think is bananas, it's your responsibility to let them know. 

I have UX in my title, most definitely - but I'm not trying to oversell something beyond a certain point. How the hell do people think good UX existed prior to the invention of the UX role?

Make good products for the user. If this is everyone's main concern, your UX will be amazing, plain and simple.

28 responses
I've never agreed with anything more. Your collective team is the "UX guy": the UI designers making the human-computer interface simple, the back-end engineers making sure applications are as error-free as possible, the system admins and database admins making sure data operations are responsive and fast, the technical and customer support guys helping users out when the experience takes a wrong-turn. "User experience" is all-encompassing, and should be considered in every single facet of your product, and your business.
You're close. It's not just "your team". It's not even everyone in the company. To the user, it's everyone associated with your company. If your product is great, but finding the contact us link on your company website is a pain, that's bad UX. If you recommend a 3rd party network support company and they are bad, that's bad UX. If your pricing structure is arbitrary and confusing, that's bad UX. User experience is everything the user relates back to your product, and that can mean a different scope for every user. Don't limit it to just your team.
It is definitely wrong to call UI designer a UX person. But role of UX designer, is to make research on user experience issues, and propose solutions, that might involve any person in the company. The problem is in the word "design" because UI designers instantly feel that it is something related to them. Here is a great table that compares UI and UX design
UX is just a descriptive title. Web developer used to be the term I used when that was more popular. Now software engineer or front-end engineer is more popular so I use that now. Before there was web developer as a title it was called a programmer. My actual roles are identical tho. You can define UX however you want for your self or company, I guess, but generally UX doesn't just mean "user experience". It's *generally* associated with design specifically, not, say, ops or infra although the stuff they do like speeding up the server is definitely a good user experience. From wikipedia: "the interface, graphics, industrial design, physical interaction, and the manual" I wouldn't say the backend developers are part of this other than having opinions on if they like it or not. But, that doesn't really count as "everyone is responsible for this" since everyone in a company has opinions on how everything in the company should work, but that doesn't mean our titles or duties are different. I have opinions on the server we use, but that doesn't mean the Infrastructure title is meaningless and that it's everyone's job and that especially doesn't mean I have to mess with our servers and it doesn't mean our backend people are obligated to mock up designs or do user studies.
I've always fancied "interaction design" over UX, but the principles remain the same. There's research involved in the beginning that requires a designer to have an understanding of the brand and a set of user needs. You'll never persuade people to remove UX from a title because it does represent so much for so many, but I do agree the experience is an entire team's responsibility. Crap code can ruin a beautiful UI any day.
There are UX roles though, and they act as horizontal consultants to areas of the company that have touch-points with customers, which is almost all of them. UX is a "mindset", but it's also something that is a legitimate role. Interaction design, interface, visuals, that's all a part of it. But then there are the horizontal consulting aspects where the UX work and research is a back and forth between product management on what people are wanting or needing, or don't know what to ask for, it's a back and forth between developers on how people are responding to the performance, implementation of the interaction, the response to the product in general that is going to require a design and code refactor. It's also between QA and customer support so we know what doesn't work well, what needs changed, and how to translate that "experience", or UX, back to design, development, PM, and even management. Then when you tie in the UX responsibilities of doing user and customer research, writing personas, looking at any data for analysis on how people are using things, why they are using them, who is actually using them, and what assumptions are being validated or not, we then return to that horizontal UX consultant role that is removed from interaction and design. I think that it's becoming more of the tactical product management role. And as I mentioned on HN, it's not a land-grab for UX to take over the territory of all the different disciples we have in technology, but instead to act as that horizontal consultant that has to bounce from domain to domain shepherding the "user's experience" in those different areas and advocating to all the domains from that perspective. At that point, interaction design, IA, UI design become just a minority subset of what UX should be doing.
On one level I understand where you are coming from. But after a quite a few years of doing this, I think UI and UX should have no input from anyone other than a single designer. Throughout history the best designs start with one artist THEN it evolves version to version, or never because the design is solid. Your recommendation will just encourage more cooks to be in the kitchen. Everyone has an opinion or taste and they can all be wrong. The religion of "group thinking" is for mediocre products. If you want real innovation allow someone's single vision to happen.
Thank you for saying it out loud.
Right on. In 2013, we have all these titles that didn't exist 10 years ago, barely even 5 years ago. Where were those roles before? People had to be generalists, not specialists in the not so distant past. UX is a really broad term. I know what the connotative meaning of it is, but actually doing the work, you have to be a talented generalist. Websites and applications have become something that we actually have years of studies built upon now. It's not just usability, or interaction; interface is really something vastly different. But the overall experience is influenced by things like the site speed, how easy it is to use, the intuitiveness, the support team.
Amen brotha! Great design doesn't need a UX person to make it usable. Most UX'rs these days don't design anyways, most of them preach about UX and making things usable at conferences... those who can't do, teach.
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