November 26, 2015
The design industry is made up of a variety of diverse fields and specialisations. The word designer, therefore, cannot be expected to live up to a single easy to understand description. Industrial designers are involved in the design of appliances, motor vehicles and a wide array of manufactured goods.
Other designers work with magazine houses, and their work revolves around producing graphics for print media and the like. Tech designers, on the other hand, are a new breed of savvy professionals who are chiefly involved in design work for the internet and mobile applications.
Within each group, there are many sub-disciplines, and it can get quite confusing even for a newly qualified designer. Particularly when sifting through job offers the different requirements described can prove overwhelming especially in the tech design industry.
The tech design industry is notorious for highly specialised terms, and jargon like UI and UX are widespread in this sphere. So let’s make sense of some the most popular job designations available to tech designers.
The User Experience or UX Designer
As the name suggests the UX Designer works to the goal of how a user experiences an application. This invariably leads to many design decisions and experiments along the product cycle. It also means the UX Designer has to look at ways in which navigating a product can be made easy and natural for a user.
Obviously this is achieved by extensive trial and error and it not uncommon for designers to involve a user group during the testing phase. When testers find elements that hinder the ease of use of a product, the design team then undertakes to implement improvements. Only when the best possible outcome of user-friendliness is achieved is the UX Designer’s work complete.
User Interface or UI Designer
The UI Designer’s role is defined by a given application’s layout and topography and how it best serves a user. In an application, for example, each screen needs to be structured in a way that makes it easy for a user to find their way. Other priorities include making the interface as clear as possible while still keeping the design uniform across the entire platform.
The UI Designer also ensures that the navigation parameters as established by the UX Designer can be easily interpreted and found by the user. Another area that the UI Designer is responsible for is making sure the application behaves in an expected and preferred manner when the user interacts with the interface.
Graphic or Visual Designer
This is the designer we think of typically who is adept at creating an interface that is attractive and visually appealing. They do not go near any of the previous elements regarding a user’s experience, nor even focus on the layout of an application. Their sole priority is in creating a set visual style for the product. Their work is usually extremely creatively oriented and often requires attention to detail before finalising a design.
The graphic designer is responsible for crafting all the elements a user sees when using an application including visual aspects like icons and buttons. Most graphic designers are those whose work is carried out mainly aboard computer programs like Photoshop among others.
Motion or Interaction Designer
A motion designer is the brains behind how an application responds when you the user interact with it directly. So when a user clicks a button, for example, the application displays any number of animated effects that engages a user giving the impression that the design is both fluid and alive. All the various sliding, flowing and transition effects are the work of the motion designer.
Sometimes the visual effects are intended to be as subtle as possible to hint to a user that her interaction has registered with the application. And other times animations will be more elaborate to indicate that an action has been completed successfully. Animated effects play a significant role in deepening the experience of a user particularly if it gives the user better ideas about how to use the application.
User or UX Researcher
The UX researcher is the member of the design team who helps to guide the product along by defining and constantly referring to the idea of the ideal end user. This process begins with first identifying actual users with specific problems the application is intended for.
Conducting interviews, researching user needs and then collating the data are all part of the UX researcher’s responsibility. And then through direct interaction with the rest of the design team, collected information can be used as a reference for developing the product to perfection.
Often the UX researcher will continue searching for the ideal solution even after a product is completed. The testing of different designs of the product among users allows UX researchers to bring a refined application to the market.
Frontend or UI Developer
The front-end developer is responsible for the usable foundation of an application’s interface. Where the UI designer creates the design framework of the interface, the front-end developer then takes this beginning structure and turns it into a working model of the application.
A frontend developer is typically a computer programmer who writes the code that makes the application come to life. Further testing allows the developer to improve the application of a solid working standard between user experience and the application’s interface.
The product designer can be referred to as a Jack of all trades within the design team. The function of the product designer can involve an assistive role in the coding process to the front end developer and additional research to the UX researcher.
Primarily though the product designer is tasked with setting a final product objective and needs to work with the team to arrive at this goal. This will invariably include assistance with the overcoming of design flaws, and working toward ironing out any challenges met during the product life cycle.
Ultimately the product designer brings all other role players of the design team together, with the specific purpose of creating a product that users will enjoy and appreciate.