The multiple roles of a UX designer in 2021, from research to design

What is the role of a UX Designer, or should I say the roles?

When we talk about user experience, we are obviously talking about a product and all its dimensions. It’s not always true that the most successful products are the ones that solve the most commonly asked user questions. That’s why when it comes to recommending a specific area for UX designers to focus on, multiple criteria point to more than one area.

In fact today’s most successful products and solutions are usually simple to understand and use, are reliably dependable, and add significant value to end-users’ lives. They do this by eliminating pain points that bother users through a good understanding of the underlying problems.

Understand the problem

As companies venture into new business, where people haven’t been able to experience firsthand the value that is being offered, there is a level of risk involved. For instance, if an end-user has trouble making use of a product because it’s too difficult to use or is constantly struggling to get the most out of it. That’s something UX designers may be challenged to address.

That’s why UX designers who want to help businesses succeed in their endeavors don’t just have to focus on one specific area. Instead, they have to become experts in everything that they are working on (or surround themselves with experts).

Few examples of user-centric areas where UX designers should focus their attention:

UX research

Research is a common job in UX Designers and involves gathering facts about user behavior, culture, attitudes, values and perceptions in order to understand the user.

An essential part of research involves understanding people’s needs and desires. When designing a product, you can use empirical evidence to develop ideas. Often there is not only a need for your product but also a drive to make something that stands out from the rest of your competitors. 

Do the research, then design!

Product design

Design is not only about user interfaces (UI), it is also about how the products in question are made and how they are constructed. As a UX designer, you can help people think critically about products by focusing on the tangible details and performance of a solution.

For example, if a product’s functionality is clearly described, the user will be able to choose how they want to interact with the product. It is therefore essential to study the elements, shapes, buttons, colors, etc.

Also think about the process and organization.

Project management

A UX designer works most of the time in a team. That’s why it is very important that each member of the team understands how he or she can contribute to the project. If they know what their roles are, it will be easier for them to work in collaboration with the rest of the team and create a better product.

It is also important for the team to be able to agree upon a defined approach to design. For example, it is very important to create a plan which will lead the project. There are many methods and concepts more or less agile to develop its projects: Lean Startup, Design Sprint, Design Thinking, etc. It is up to you to find the one that suits you and to adapt it to your needs.

In short, if the team does not have a clearly defined approach, disagreements are likely to happen.

Customer support

Often forgotten, therefore if the user support is terrible or if users have an unpleasant time with the product, someone will have to deal with these issues. 

Beyond helping solve problems, customer support is also a wealth of knowledge.

For example, if customers find that the global experience with a product is extremely frustrating, you should talk directly with them to understand the problems, their expectations and what solutions would be possible. All questions asked by customers and users can help you define the important points to address: how to improve my product, what information is missing, what points are unclear, etc.

Information design

Lack of information about a product is also a problem. Or if the information provided is confusing or uninformative, that’s definitely something a UX designer can assist with. For instance, if the brand website has typos, misuses words, or can’t answer questions in a clear or concise way, the designer can help the brand address those issues.

UX Research, product design, customer support, and information design have a lot in common, but there are also important differences that will influence the UX design work. Don’t forget to take the time to learn the basics, to do research so you can make it a better experience for both users and companies alike.

In conclusion

UX design is a career that will ultimately shape the future. It has great potential to improve lives and businesses all around the world, and it’s important for everyone who is passionate about the subject to take part in it.

The reality is that the job is unique and depends on both the company and the individual’s profile. A candidate with an information architect (or enterprise architecture or UI) background can design a user interface. A person with a web designer (or a UX) background can build it. You don’t need a PhD in UX design to become a UX designer. Go for it and leverage existing tools!

One last tip if you are interested, don’t forget to be a good teacher. As a UX designer, you need to be able to explain the differences between concepts in your own words. In order to convince your own clients or even your superiors of your expertise, you need to be able to explain your ideas in a concise way.

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