What do you think differentiates a Senior UX Designer from a Mid-level UX Designer (other than years of experience)?
From what I've observed talking to a bunch of designers who come in through the door of UXBeginner.com, the senior level UXers tend to focus on strategy, communication and facilitation.
From scouring job listings myself, Senior UXers are less likely to be asked to code or make pixel perfect designs, and more likely to facilitate workshops with clients, develop design systems & processes, and manage projects.
About 20-30% in their salary.
Mid-level - can tackle projects, supervised by a lead. Involved in one project. Senior - can tackle projects, without a lead. Can be involved in multiple projects.
I guess that the shortest definition?
I don't agree with the multiple project aspect. If a senior designer is doing the actual production of design on a project, and it is a big project, splitting time across multiple projects would be irresponsible.
As far as the discussion goes, I think it's two things:
The senior designer will have a better designed outcome, but more importantly will get there through a more practiced (experience) process and will do so faster (more efficiently) than the mid-level designer. And, they have the ability to share this knowledge with others.
They have the experience. It's simply irreplacable. When you work bigger and bigger projects, what you learn is managing people skills and learning how to communicate the decisions that lead to your designs.
As an example, everybody is a critic as soon as a new logo/rebrand comes out from a big brand. The outcome is heavily criticized, but a lot of the criticism comes from people that aren't familiar with the politics and committee decision making that goes into any rebrand of that scale. Perhaps, somewhere along the way, the designer may have lost a battle on design vision with the client. Sometimes, its inevitable. But as you become more senior, you learn tricks to minimize this.
TLDR: A mid and senior designer may design the same thing, but the senior got there through a more proven process and is able to talk to the design decisions so that they are implemented to his/her vision.
Not senior vs mid-level, but Helen Tran has an interesting opinion on senior vs junio designers:
Over time, Designers accumulate a set of beliefs (like real life!) about why they’re doing certain things. This set of beliefs become their design philosophy and when you hire a Senior Designer, you’re hiring that set of beliefs.
Hm good food for thought. I used to wonder why companies hire so many college grads despite existing talent in the job market. Then I made a similar realization to Helen's though at the opposite end of the spectrum - newer grads can be more easily "molded." Their lack of relative experience can be a great asset to companies looking to instill a certain culture or process.
I agree with Oz, in that I would expect a senior designer to be more focused on: strategy, long-term goals, and communication. Senior designers are able to get alignment on vision for a product or site across from different stakeholders, and are able to illustrate what that vision looks like in the short- vs. long-term.
This doesn't directly answer your question, but I always thought this article provided good insights.
Does anything?Half the people I see with Sr. have no idea about basic design philosophy or have really worked a through any sort of challenge. It's simply a stamp that they decided to add making it meaningless and degrading those who actually earned it. It really bugs me that someone with one project under their belt is suddenly Sr.. Lead Design seems to be more meaningful.