I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the UX community around whether or not web designers should know how to code. Specifically for the UX field, I haven’t seen much discussion about whether or not user-experience designers should be doing the front-end design.
Recently, a good portion of job descriptions I’ve come across include lines about how a UX Design job requires the applicant to own the visual design. Here is an excerpt of example I came across today:
Heavy UX experience, ideally can show some decently well known product examples… It will be mostly photoshop/sketch comps & mockups (no wireframes).
These are not the only job description for a UX Designer that is like this. I often see positions where one of the key responsibilities includes visual design, creating mockups in Photoshop, or contributing to a style guide. Here is another example:
- Meticulous and attentive to visual detail with a natural eye for design
- Own the development and management of style guides and product documentation to maintain reusable and efficient designs
Often, when a company with a description like this is asked about the other UX activities their team performs, such as usability testing or interviews, the response I get is something like, “We don’t do usability testing, but we have access to customer support experts and we have a great QA team that does user acceptance testing”.
Comparatively, if a job description mentions something about front-end dev, it sometimes says something like this:
Knowledgeable about HTML/CSS/JS (coding is not required)
Meaning, the UX designer is not writing production code. (Although, a few places do ask for that, in which case I’d say those positions are mislabeled.) I see a dichotomy here between the expectation that UX designers should be creating final comps, but not contributing production-level code.
When I see a job description like the one above, that asks for a UX designer to create comps, it tells me a few things about a company:
- This company does not practice user-centered design
- This company doesn’t know what they want and is bad at communicating
- This company may not even understand UI design (none of these jobs include anything about typography, color, layout, grids, icons, etc…)
I think it is important for UX designers to understand typography, grids, color, and layout, but I do not believe that UX designers should be creating comps, especially not if the company is against actual UX research. In a hybrid role, I suspect that the true focus will be on the look-and-feel, not on the UX. However, maybe I am being close-minded or not keeping up with changes in the industry. I hope to have a discussion about this.
I realize this is IxDA and not UPA, or another “UX” discussion forum, but this seems like a good discussion platform with good minds that I hope can contribute. (I’m not sure if this is categorized correctly.)