As a User Experience Consultancy, the UX Design role is the single most frequent position we hire for. Various online definitions state that UX Designers
should be strategic thought leaders and play a very important role in creating a seamless user experience as it relates to a user’s journey throughout a site or product. This includes research, developing personas and designing various interaction points within an overall system. This of course is an all encompassing generalist type description, but sometimes like in life, there’s ideal and then there’s the reality of the situation, client or project. We find that in many cases, a UX Designer must wear a specialized hat on a per project need. So where do your needs fall? Do you need a UX Generalist or do you need a UX Specialist?
We receive countless UX job descriptions and they oftentimes include everything from user research to the kitchen sink. Since the UX trade is still a fairly new (albeit growing rapidly) job type, it’s quickly becoming a trendy catch all job title that incorporates numerous specialized job types. They’re looking for someone to help lead research, design architectures, conceive ground breaking interfaces and concept and build award winning screen designs. Should a UX Designer play an integral role throughout the UX process and make decisions as it relates to the user interactions? Absolutely! But that’s not to say they can’t rely on other specialists within research or development to attain critical information from things like usability testing, focus groups or the latest interaction capabilities within front-end HTML, CSS and JS. Often times, the “generalist” or the jack of all trades, is the master of none. In this rapidly changing digital landscape, they’re just not able to be as strong in any one particular area of the UX process. An excerpt from an older article written by Jacob Nielsen summarizes it perfectly, “specialization drives performance.” And I couldn’t agree more.
So hiring managers, before you sit down to write that next UX Designer job description requiring someone to have skills and experience in all areas of the user journey, please don’t expect everyone to be able to lead focus groups just as well as they can comp up some stellar screen designs or write clean CSS. Try and spend a little more time taking a closer look at your department and really focus in on where your needs truly fall. You might find you require support in specific areas like usability research rather than UI Design. In which case, it may benefit you to outsource those research needs to a qualified research and usability lab rather than hiring another UX Designer. If you’re not careful, that unicorn you were looking to hire may turn out to be something very different than what you were anticipating.
Have additional questions about hiring a UX Designer or looking for a new UX role? Get in touch! We’re happy to answer any questions that you may have.