Good design is critical to be competitive. This maxim has never been truer. The current crisis is pushing us to redefine the user experience of most of our services. Organizations need to identify new opportunities and explore new paths to growth.
Designers, this is our time!
We need designers more than ever before to help us shape a new economy. But what is a designer? What kind of designer do you need for your project? In this article, we want to help you understand the different profiles in the profession because one single designer can’t do everything. We can’t say everything there is to say about designers in one single article, and you bear in mind understand this is just our point of view, but we hope this will help you.
One field, many positions
The design industry is growing fast, and a new term to describe a design discipline is coined every day. UX researcher, UX strategist, UX/UI designer, interactive designer, service designer, motion designer, product designer, UX writer, design facilitator: Do these positions sound familiar to you? In people’s minds, design is related to aesthetics, and, probably, the first thing that comes to mind is someone who designs logos and websites. Okay, let’s clear this up.
What is your purpose?
Before we dive into the different design profiles, you need to identify the problem you are trying to solve. Do you need to work on your branding or marketing? Do you need to redesign your digital product? Do you need to improve your existing service or create a new service? Each refers to a type of designer. From that perspective, it is essential to know the theme you are covering.
In which step of the process are you?
Are you at the beginning of the exploration phase, or do you need to transform your ideas into prototypes? Each stage in the design process demands different skills and different types of designers. To help you, here is a quick reminder about the different phases of the design thinking process:
The EXPLORATION phase helps you to identify the problem you need to solve by talking to users. You define your personas and can also explore creative ideas with some benchmarks. In the next step, IDEATION, your goal is to generate many ideas and determine the experience you want to deliver. The next one, PROTOTYPING, helps you make your designs alive and tangible. From a simple storyboard to a digital prototype, you need something to help users understand, feel, and interact with your concept. The last phase, which calls TEST, aims to get real feedback from users on your prototype. It helps you to confirm your value proposition. Once you’ve done that, you can iterate between new prototypes and tests. You do that until you find the right product or service that fits users’ needs.
Now you answered those questions, here is a list of the type of designers you should consider hiring for your project. We can’t talk about any kind of profile you can find in the industry, but we selected the most representatives and the trendiest.
A UX researcher will help you understand your audience and identify the real problem you’re trying to solve. Their skillset may include user research, testing, analysis, data, and analytics. The UX researcher works both on qualitative and quantitative data.
Usually, we distinguish the role of the UX and the UI designer. The first one takes care of the overall experience of your product or service. Is it fluid and intuitive? The UI designer focuses on the visual, interactive design of the product’s interface. Those two designers tend to work closely together. But most of the time, people hire designers with both skills.
The UX writer
Not every designer is comfortable with writing. However, choosing the right word to deliver your message or guide the user into your product becomes critical. In that perspective, writing is the new skill, and some designers have made it their specialty. We also call them UX copywriters.
A service designer
A service designer can build a global vision and embrace the complexity of a service from A to Z, front stage, and backstage. A service designer can be an excellent facilitator to animate workshops and make low-fidelity prototypes. But, a service designer is not necessarily a good visual designer.
The UX strategist helps define the approach between the user’s needs, the company vision, and external/internal constraints. He can also work on information architecture, wireframing, and UX writing.
Is your team aligned with design principles?
Design is not just a skill— it is a state of mind. It’s a methodology for solving problems creatively and collaboratively. Before deciding to hire a designer, make sure that everyone is on the same page. Here is a quick reminder of some design statements: (1) Design is a user-centered approach. You focus on users’ needs and pain points to find creative solutions—not the other way around. (2) Design is your ability to work collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team. (3) Design is an iterative process. You prototype and test your ideas with your users until you find the right value proposition. If your team is not comfortable with these design principles, don’t hire a designer—or make sure that the role of the designer will be to spread the design spirit within your organization.
Design is not a sprint; it is a marathon
If you do a Google search for “design,” you will probably find articles about Design Sprints. The Design Sprint, invented by Google Venture, aims to accelerate problem-solving and creativity. In five days, a small team goes from a challenge to the user test of a prototype. This type of methodology may be common, but don’t forget that design is not just about making things quickly. It takes time to find problems and deliver great products or services. Don’t forget that statement if you hire a designer.
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Recruitment or freelancing?
Hiring a designer is hard, especially during these times. In my opinion, it seems that turnover is high, and designers are jumping from startup to startup. Is it for money? Or maybe they are afraid of killing their creativity by staying in one place for a long time? All assumptions are open! When they aren’t in unicorn organizations, they used to be freelancers, because designers love their freedom. You should consider hiring a freelancer and not want to recruit at all costs. This is just advice, and this subject deserves an entire article.
Ask for a portfolio
A designer must have a portfolio to present their work. And you should not just focus on the final result, but also ask questions about their process. How do they identify and understand the problem? Is it easy to understand? You should focus on people that have a story to tell beyond sticky notes. And even if they don’t have a lot of experience, they should have side projects to show you.
I hope this helped you, but remember, it exists in a lot of different specialties in design jobs. We are here to help if you have any questions. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.