Woah! Alright, calm down. This isn’t a hate post, but rather a conversation starter around a very real topic in today’s digital space. There is already a pretty blurred line in the realm of UX professionals: ‘UX Designer’, ‘UX Architect’, ‘UX Developer’, ‘UX Researcher’ and so on. For the purpose of this article, let’s assume UX Architect & UX Designer are synonomous, ie. A User Experience Designer with a solid understanding of basic design principles.

Ok, so what do I mean by ‘When Not To Hire A Designer? First, let’s look at the state of most companies, and even startups today. Assuming the company this individual has been hired to work with is not in a state of re-branding, or even branding for that matter, I think we can safely say that they would have ‘solid’ marketing guidelines and styleguide documents. This is a pretty easy assumption as most companies today have found the need to have a definitive styleguide in order to ensure their digital properties adhere to any brand guidelines.

Sweet, let’s also assume that the project doesn’t include creating any marketing materials, or those marketing materials are provided by the marketing department.

Alright! You’ve got a UX Designer who has a solid understanding of basic design, you’ve got a defined digital styleguide, and you’ve got a project that doesn’t involve rebranding or creating marketing materials. It’s a solid bet that the UX Designer could not only do the UX work (journey maps, user flows, wireframes), but also incorporate the company styleguide and produce usable, well designed flats.

“Pfffffff, that’s a pretty select set of assumptions to make that work.” Yes, and also no. That situation is actually a lot more popular than you might think, especially with B2B solutions, internal projects, e-commerce and even startups.

Startups you say? Sure, let’s talk about the second scenario. I’m a startup guy/gal, I’ve got a wicked product, hired some balls out developers, and got a logo and basic branding done. My product is an app, nothing crazy visually, but it does need to look slick. With the presence of Apple’s design guidelines, Google’s Material Design Library, and an endless supply of icons and even (*gasp*) templates… a solid UX designer could give you a slick looking app without the need for hiring a Graphic Designer as well. Wait, why wouldn’t you hire a graphic designer INSTEAD of a UX Designer? Don’t even get me started… That, is another article entirely…

It’s not an answer to all, maybe not even many solutions, but for a large number of scenarios, hiring a GOOD UX DESIGNER is all you need to get a great looking and USABLE product out the door. Now, I’m not trying to negate the need for graphic designers, they are crucial to many projects, but for those where budget is a big concern, consider selecting a solid UX Designer to handle both jobs well.

Want to comment, yell at me, argue or troll this article? Go for it.


Darren Northcott

twitter.com/darrennorthcott (warning, I don’t tweet much)