So what is the difference between these designer roles and which UX role should I apply to?
It can be overwhelming to sort out various job titles for designers. Titles change often as the field evolves. I can say this with confidence, as I’ve had most of these titles throughout my career. The roles and responsibilities of all of these roles typically include the following:
- Responsible for the end to end experience for users
- Craft wireframes, flows or any other deliverables that support the experience
- Translate business and technical requirements into a usable design
- Create prototypes to bring design visions to life
- Align cross functional partners around a design solution
To understand the roles better, let’s talk a bit about the history of Visual and Interaction Design.
Before design systems, Interaction Designers and Visual Designers were two different people working in the same interface, but with a different focus.
Interaction Designers produced wireframes, flows and schematics, while Visual Designers focused on branding, layouts and iconography to enhance the information on the page. The maturity of design systems collapsed the roles into a single role of UX Designer or Product Designer, since most design systems have visuals embedded within the components (ie: padding and color). However, in some companies these roles are still separated if projects require specialized skill sets.
The Interaction Designer title is common and has been around for awhile. Interaction in the title refers to the interaction between the user and the system. The interaction is captured through a wireframe and translating business and user requirements into an interface design. Modern day Interaction Designers go deep in interaction, but are still expected to work within a design system, or compose layouts that make the experience usable. Their skill set is best used in technical spaces- like a complex mobile app, rather than something like a marketing website which relies on strong branding and visual elements. Interaction Designer is a common title used at larger companies like Google and Apple.
UI or UI/UX Designer
The UI Designer title evolved into UX Designer, and it’s not a common job title these days, but was a very common title when I first started out in the field. A more common title is UI/UX or UX/UI variant. The job requirements are the same for these roles as for the rest of user experience jobs. You’ll be translating business requirements into interfaces. Depending on the industry, the role might have a different focus. For example, in gaming, UI designers are more akin to an artist, but in tech roles, it’s more like an Interaction Designer, UX Designer, or Product Designer.
UX Designer is the same as an Interaction Designer, which is the same as a Product Designer. Noticing a theme ;)? User Experience Designer, or UX Designer has the same skill set as an Interaction Designer. Although there’s no difference in responsibilities between Interaction Designer and UX Designer, the UX Designer title, in my opinion, better expresses the larger role designers have in shaping the end-to-end system.
In practice, as a UX Designer, you are responsible for the entire experience beyond just user interface elements, from how the user onboards onto the product, to their customer support experience. User Experience Designer (UX Designer) is a common title, and is used at companies like SAP, Apple, and Adobe.
Product Designer is a new-ish title for user experience, rooted from traditional product design or industrial design. The Product Designer title reflects modern practices in tech, in that designers should handle all aspects of design, including visual design and interaction design as a generic skill set rather than a specialization.
Design systems cover most use cases, but for cases they don’t cover all of them, the Product Designer should be able to craft a visually usable design to fill the gaps.
However, In some organizations, Product Designer titles reflect the visual design side, and are responsible for design systems.
Developing and creating design systems is a different skill set, so you’ll want to check the role responsibilities for the job requirements. The Product Designer title is used at companies like Meta, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
If you’re looking to get into UX, you should feel comfortable applying to any of these job titles. The job requirements should list out anything specific you need to know that’s out of the scope of general responsibilities.
Generally speaking, all of these roles will be similar in the day to day to work, with the exception of highly visual design focused responsibilities like design systems.
I hope that helps! Let me know how your job finding process is going. Check out some of my UX courses if interested in learning more about UX.