Should UX Designers create final comps?


#1

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:

  1. This company does not practice user-centered design
  2. This company doesn’t know what they want and is bad at communicating
  3. 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.)


#2

As uxers our remit crosses many areas, but we can’t do everything. So while it would be nice to do much front end work, we’re not unicorns.


#3

Thank you for your reply. Just so I fully understand your response, are you saying that if there was enough time to do everything then, yes, UX designers should be responsible create final comps? Is that what you mean?


#4

hypotheticals are great! If there was enough time then let’s have UXers do everything!

Sorry for flippant reply, but in a professional environment we don’t have enough time to do everything tangentially related to our jobs.


#5

I completely understand your point of view. The reason I’m asking this question is because some job descriptions (see examples) for UX positions are requiring UX designers to create final comps, in addition to the more traditional UX duties. I am not sure if this is because the employers do not know what the duties of a UX professional are, or if I am mistaken in fully understanding the duties of the job. Time limits or not, I want to know if it’s true that UX professionals are responsible for the execution of the final UI design.


#6

I see a lot of recruitment emails asking for everything and it sounds like the recruiter doesn’t really know what UX is. How often have you seen an advert for a UI designer with ‘ninja sharp coding skills’! Final comps are specialist design skills and not remit of UX although UX has a tangential interest in it.

hope this helps


#7

It does help. Thank you for taking the time to clarify your POV.

And if anyone else has an opinion, I’d like to get their take too!


#8

I think it really depends on the size of the design team. If it’s really large, then a UX designer can specialize down to very specific responsibilities. But often times, UX designers are expected to own visual design and dabble in the development side of things as well. Sometimes having a broad skill set will help you in a role, but you don’t want to get so broad that it waters down what you can achieve in any one area.