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Should UX Design be a separate field?

over 1 year ago from , Designer

It always made sense to me that it's important to understand your user and be able to comprehend some software development constraints in order to be a good designer.

A lot of the stuff that are being introduced by bloggers and UX speakers are things we have done for ages which are being repackaged and resold as the new most important thing you need for your business. ( for example, UX Writing, which is pretty much web writing using relevant copy for your users )

And OK, there are new things, but that's just the industry. We moved from tables to divs to end up a responsive framework and we went from meetings to sprints and now we are at design thinking workshops.

In the end we are still designing products for people, which is what we have always done.

Now, we are in a great time where it's amazing that we are getting the possibilities to do comprehensive user testing and follow user-centered design processes in a lot of forward-thinking companies.

But while a researcher, copywriter and content manager, etc.. all have an important place while building these products, I don't understand why are we trying to get all of these different specialities under the "UX Designer" handle?

It makes it really difficult to know what a future employer is expecting from you.

What do you guys think? I'm eager to find out what DN's thoughts are on this.

18 comments

  • Omer BalyaliOmer Balyali, over 1 year ago

    Most of the people who call them UX Designers are basically Interaction Designers or User-Interface Designers. Still most of them will be baffled with challenges outside of visual screen-based interfaces, but they think they are designing the User Experience, while most of them no idea what's going on on the brand side, or what's happening when a human-human interaction happens, and they don't care about these things. ("It's not my job, it's marketing departments'... etc.")

    Fashion/Textile Designers also creates products, which you will have an experience with but they're not called UX Designers, or... Architects design buildings AND the interaction inside the building & with the building, but they're not called UX Designers. You are a designer of what you design. If you're designing Interfaces, which is used by Users, who have Experiences through Interactions... then you're a Interaction/User-Interface Designer, who cares about User Experience.

    You can't design the User Experience. You can design for the User Experience. You can design products. You can design services. You can design interactions. You can design buildings. You can design virtual-voice interfaces. But not the User Experience. Don't fool yourself with fancy titles, learn what is Design. Design is all about User Experience, that's why it's an umbrella term, you can put anything related to design under this term.

    42 points
    • Sveinn DavidssonSveinn Davidsson, over 1 year ago

      I couldn't agree more to this.

      4 points
    • Timothy Hykes, over 1 year ago

      I disagree. If you design something and have 30 people test it and they all experience the same thing good or bad you've designed the experience. Looking at the trends in the research from your testings you can see the experience you are designing, and you can shape that into a positive or negative experience based on what you've designed. The issue with UX Design is ... we haven't set the foundation on what UX Design is and what a UX Designer does. We have left this up to each company and their HR Department.

      5 points
      • Omer BalyaliOmer Balyali, over 1 year ago

        The answers are as good as the questions. You test for specific cases, which you think will be the use case, but this is not how things works in real life.

        You can design a Fruit Knife and you can test it with most fruits, but somebody will hijack a plane with it, test this instead if you can really design & test the experience. That's why I already said... you can "design for the experience". It's like a wish. You wish nothing will go bad, but instead of just wishing; you develop it further and this is what DESIGN is. But even if you try your best, unexpected use cases will happen and you can not design these experiences. But you can design the knife, so whomever use it will have mostly a good experience, but you can not guarantee this.

        Also research about how Behavioral Psychological Tests are approached. When you're doing a psychological test, you mostly deem the person as a black-box, and look for the outputs this particular persons gives under specific inputs. This is exactly the basis of Usability and/or Ergonomy Tests. Think about A/B Testing... If you can really design the experience, you would focus on the experience, not on the input. But the output happens as a result of the input and if the output is without errors, you think that this is a good experience. But you only change the inputs and look for the differences between the outputs.

        You give a monkey a rotten banana, he doesn't like it. => Bad Experience You give a monkey a fresh banana, he likes it. => Good Experience

        As a designer, we are like farmers trying to grow the best bananas, so the monkeys will be happy USING OUR BANANAS may he eat or may he stick it to somewhere depends on the monkey, not the banana. BUT the banana has the affordance of to be stickable, as the knife has the affordance of ability to cut.

        9 points
        • Timothy Hykes, over 1 year ago

          This is an excellent discussion, and I thank you for sharing. I see your point but... if you took a knife and put it in from of 30 users and asked them what this object is and they say it's a cutter, and you ask them what do you think it's used for, and they say to hijack a plane. As a UX Designer, I will take the knife change the name to the cutter and design it to work best on a plane. As a UX designer, the process is never over. There will always be a new use case. When these use cases arrive you design for them to make them better experiences. That's why I say we design the experience. We may not be the first one to see the use case, but when it's presented to us, we shape it for the user.

          3 points
          • Omer BalyaliOmer Balyali, over 1 year ago

            Yes! Definetely the point where I'm trying to explain. As you said, if the experience is not good, we change the design of the knife, or how it's branded... so at the end the user won't have much confusion using it. So we design the product better, as a result we hope for a better experience for the user.

            My point is that designers for decades already been caring about these things. Every designer is responsible to research about the user/customer/people, use cases, edge cases and design accordingly, and to improve it with feedback from users, or from the extracts of the research. But still... you aim for a good experience, so you design a better product/service/solution.

            If you want to label the designers who research about their users and use insights from research to develop a better product: then you have to label all designers, regardless of the discipline as UX Designer, which is kinda pointless because the label Designer already fulfills this need. Most important problem with the title UX Designer is that this approach excludes other designers who is aiming at a good User Experience, like they don't care. That's why there are many articles which discusses UI vs UX, as if User-Interface Designers only care about romantic visual values in designing the interfaces, not focusing on the UX. This is simply wrong. If you say you're User-Interface Designer, that means you design for a better UX, but if you don't care about UX... then you're not a User-Interface Designer, not even a Designer.

            We always have the problem of explaining what is Design. Instead of explaining it clearly, we're making it more vague, because people now think that you must be labeled as UX Designer, otherwise you don't care about the people you're designing for.

            As another commenter noted, companies and employees love this title because it helps them to get more money from clients & companies.

            So you are a designer? Meh. Why did you choose to be a designer, while you could be a UX Designer? You loser...

            8 points
      • Rey AlejandroRey Alejandro, over 1 year ago

        I think the comment is saying that fashion designer, architects are all trying to influence the experiences of their products but they are not called UX Designer, If they test and do research, they will still not be called UX designer. I just think the title is vague, Product designer, Web designer, Software designer, App Designer is more semantic and clear.

        1 point
    • Account deleted over 1 year ago

      does anyone know how to upvote multiple times? Just one is not enough for this comment.

      1 point
  • Jesse X, over 1 year ago

    Yeah...the field is called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and it has existed for decades...

    9 points
  • Steven CavinsSteven Cavins, over 1 year ago

    I've experimented with my LinkedIn job title for a while. UX Designer got the most recruiter hits, and UI Designer got virtually none. Designer is too broad, Web Designer feels archaic because "web" is just a medium of many. Product Designer sounds great these days because it's platform agnostic but I don't think any of us can agree with that actually really means either.

    Just read the job description carefully, and apply as necessary. Your portfolio should do a good job of showing what you can do, regardless of whatever global taxonomy you want to file it under (which in my case, has actually changed a lot throughout my career anyway.)

    9 points
    • Andrew C, over 1 year ago

      UX Designer is the right term. “I am comfortable doing research based designs” is what that says. Most companies aren’t truly research focused, unfortunately.

      I think most ux designers care to understand user centric design, but don’t REALLY fundamentally understand ux research tactically. There’s a will, but poor mentorship opps.

      The ux umbrella jpeg is real. The research wrung just seems to be the least understood. So ux designers that are interaction design focused aren’t wrong. It’s more about knowing what you need as a team and what your strengths are.

      2 points
  • Timothy Hykes, over 1 year ago

    There is a significant difference in the UX Design Process vs. the Design Process. Most designers are given a project they do some type of visual research and some mood board, some sketches, and finally, they are on some software designing. Typically, when a UX Designer starts a project, they are given the business goals and requirements during some type of kick-off meeting. From there we are facilitating design thinking exercises to find out the information we don't know. This could be participatory design exercises or a current state usability test with real users. From that exercise there a report out and we can use that information to start the UX Design Process. The most critical part is testing the prototype with users and taking what we have learned from the testing sessions and applying it to the Design. We keep doing this until we met the goals and requirements with the user's help.

    In all, it's more work, and we should be paid more for the work that we are doing. It should be a separate field under the Design umbrella.

    5 points
  • Dogukan B, over 1 year ago

    I want to talk about an experience I had in the past to get to the point. I'm not a UX designer but I'm a frontend developer with more than 5 years experience I've worked as UI designer too. When I was in collabration with an independent team including copywriter, ui designer, video producer, digital marketing consultant, backend developer and myself as frontend developer. There wasn't a UX Designer or UX Consultant. We were all experienced on digital medium. The work was a brand new mid-sized e-commerce website and the customers had physical stores but had no knowledge on development, design or digital marketing and they even haven't heard of UX. After market and a superficial user research we revealed many issues they had in physical stores.

    Until then I was thinking about it as you do like if you have enough experience on digital you may be able to solve the most of the problems but NO. We stuck there. We thought we definitely need a hands on experienced UX designer maybe even an interior designer because I can't help with the experience the customers were having in the stores that's not my job. Because we weren't able to solve the problems with the knowledge we had. Some problems with market research or user research may be revealed but you can't solve them. Especially after the problem revealed on physical side the customers were also willing to solve those problems so they asked for a full experience resolution both on digital and physical side of the business. I wasn't able to solve everything with navigation or user flows. Back then I wasn't able to find out the solutions because I didn't have any idea about UX techniques or basically I was not interested in human behavior. In the process the customers were also taught what the UX is and they were talking about what were they doing with their business until that moment. In the end, if you are a designer, you are hired to solve the problems anyway. But let's say you're a UI designer and your employer ask you to solve the problem(that an interior designer can) to give customers a better experience in the physical stores. On the other hand, multitasking is killing the brain, so we better chunk it.

    1 point