We understand the design professions

    Alexey Borodkin, product lead and head of the Guild of free designers , told at the open lesson of Netology how to understand the design directions and assign roles to the design team.

    Designer Party

    Once - in the violent 90s - there were no web designers, and websites were created by webmasters - brave people with a programmer background who did everything themselves: collected requirements, coded, drew, made content and developed the site.

    In the late 90s, the profession of a web designer appeared, which is more correctly called a “visual designer”. These guys were engaged in the aesthetic part of digital products, did not bother that the site is under a technical hood, and perceived their work as a means for self-expression. Mostly they were interested only in beauty, satisfaction, and the opinion of other visual designers.

    In the zero, when not only IT people and IT people relatives began to penetrate the Internet, it became clear that digital products should be not only beautiful and technological, but also convenient. On this wave of understanding in digital products, a party of UX-designers appeared, which opposed existing visual designers - while some were striving for aesthetics, the second ones were fighting for convenience and clarity.

    The fact that UX-designers, unlike visual designers with their artistic or near-artistic education, were first represented mostly by psychologists, was wound on all of this: it was interesting for them to delve into the users' heads. They perceived the interface not as an abstract decoration, but as a lever with which you can create the desired user experience.

    It is noteworthy that those and others were not particularly interested in the insides of the product - the system itself, over which the design was stretched. They perceived it as a “black box” for developers.

    Here it is worth telling about another grocery party that existed in parallel with visual and UX designers - these are system architects.

    System architects have existed since the 70s and mainly engaged in the analysis and study of the internal part of the product: how much it performs business tasks, meets technical requirements, and so on. Architects perceived user interfaces as an addition to the system, which should help users to perform certain functions in a given technical framework, that's all.

    So product development was broken in two between two almost non-intersecting parties - visual and UX-designers were on one side (despite the contradictions, their field of work was one and the same), and on the other - system architects. What is regrettable, the product also broke in two.

    What does a digital product consist of?

    Let's digress from the epic confrontation of designers and see what any digital product consists of - a mobile application, an online store, an airport management system:

    The product starts with three fundamental groups of requirements :

    • Business requirements: business goals and objectives, customer requirements, business risks and so on.
    • User requirements: the structure of the target audience, their tasks and scenarios of behavior.
    • Technical requirements: technical platform, adjacent systems.

    The created product must exist within these three groups of requirements that need to be analyzed, systematized and prioritized.

    The product itself can be divided into three components of success :

    • Interface: how the user perceives the product and interacts with it.
    • Functionality: what features the product has, how it works and what it allows to do.
    • Information architecture : what the system looks like, what the data structure is, what data flows are and so on.

    All this gives rise to the user experience - the subjective sensation of the product unfolding in the user's head. How much this user experience will be positive and useful depends on the consistency and detail of the three product components above: if the interface is ugly, the user experience will be flawed. If the application works with errors, it will not be used. If the interface and functionality are all right, but the product has a curved system architecture, it will not be able to evolve, and as a result will lose its popularity.

    It turns out that the product must combine the interests of the business, the interests of users and technological conditions, and it cannot be said that the product is more important: the visual-interface part or the internal architecture.

    And a simple question arises: who should deal with the product?

    Design and engineering

    In Russia, design and design are two different professional areas:

    However, if you plunge into the original meaning of terms, we will discover amazing discoveries. For example, the definition of the word design in the Oxford dictionary:

    The verb to design is to define the appearance and principle of operation of a building, clothing or other object by creating detailed drawings.

    Noun design - a plan or drawing illustrating the appearance, structure or principle of operation of a building, clothing, or other object prior to its creation.

    And here is the strict definition of the word “design” according to ISO 24765:

    Design - the process of determining the architecture, components, interfaces and other characteristics of the system or its part.

    It's interesting, right? It turns out that the meanings of the words “design” and “design” are identical to the verb to design and the noun design. This can be seen if you look at the translation of the word “design” in the Google translator:

    And there is a deep truth in this. The fact is that in the West they do not share the process of working on the internal and external part of the product, because they understand that this is a single living organism, and only integrated approaches should be applied to it.

    How to link the inner with the outer

    But back to our designers. We have a party of UX- and visual designers who mostly think only about beauty and user experience:

    And there is a party of system architects who think only about the insides of the product:

    Intuitively, they need to be combined for complete work on the product. It is worth noting that the web development market began to think about this at the beginning of the 2000s. Thus was born the position of a manager who holds together these multidirectional spheres of interest:

    Let's see what this leads to.

    The manager is not sickly load:

    • First, he takes for himself a layer of purely managerial tasks: coordinating the team, working with the customer, monitoring deadlines and budgets, and a few more hundreds of tasks included in his list of direct responsibilities.
    • Secondly, no one eliminates it from the product component: the study of requirements, interfaces and functionality, writing documentation, control over the implementation of customer requirements.

    These two large-scale, important fronts of work are difficult to get along in one person. If the manager is not immediately torn apart by the number of duties, he will be tormented by a more insidious enemy - an internal conflict of interest.

    Suppose a manager receives two parallel tasks. One - to fix the fallen off order form, the second - to describe in detail the terms of reference for the next release.
    Naturally, the manager will first of all engage in extinguishing the fire - “screwing” the order form, because every minute the customer loses money and becomes more hysterical because of the idle form. The task with a detailed description of the TOR will have to be relegated to the background, laying strategic risks in the project foundation. And so it will be permanent.
    Having tasted the delights of such work on the agency, on the product side, I formulated another solution to this problem - to divide the tasks between two specialists: leave the managerial tasks to the manager, and give the product tasks to the specially selected product designer.


    Designer's Responsibility A product designer is a person who, at the top level, understands all the components of a product and knows how to combine the requirements of business, users and technology. A product designer is aware of how interfaces coexist with functionality, and how user experience is born out of it.

    Of course, he himself will not be able to perform all the tasks, so he needs a team and a key partner - the art director. If the project is large and with many tasks, these two guys can be allocated separate functions and, according to the laws of Adam Smith , delegated to their subordinates. An example of an effective team might look like this:

    Thus, a creative couple is formed, known in “big” marketing as early as the 20th century, consisting of a product designer and art director, complementing the product manager. There are exceptions from this case, but we will talk about them below, but for now it is important to remember that it is this approach that provides a balanced study of the product and its structural consistency.
    Let's see what we did with the roles in the team, and separately we will touch on some exceptions.

    Who is part of the grocery design crowd

    Ux designer

    The task of the UX-designer: to make the product convenient, useful, comfortable for users.

    Ui designer

    The task of the UI-designer: to make "beautiful" and aesthetically pleasing.

    UX analyst

    The task of the UX analyst is to get into the user's head, extract important information and transfer information to the UX designer for implementation in the design.

    System architect

    The task of the system architect: to work out the internal logic and architecture of the product.

    Product designer

    The task of the product designer: to reduce all the "threads" of the product creation and be responsible for the result.

    Product manager

    The task of the product manager: to combine the manager and the product designer.

    The attentive reader will say: “Wait, what kind of product manager, because all the time we tried to share the grocery and management component!”.
    True, but everything in the world has exceptions. If the product is one, and preferably does not flow in a customized development format, then this approach is effective - the manager has enough opportunities to keep in mind all aspects of the product, as well as organizational features. On several products, this role does not work - the product manager will literally tear apart the number of tasks.

    Product lead / product director

    The task of the product lead: follow the development of the product. This role is a "superstructure" over the role of the product manager, and concentrates in his hands not only the functions of creating the product, but also the development of the product in the future.

    How to choose a profession

    If you are confused in a huge set of design professions and do not know where to start, you can use the sign:
    Suitable profession
    UX analytics
    Internal component
    System architect
    Ui designer
    Psychology + draw
    Ux designer
    All at once
    Product Designer, Product Manager, Product Lead

    I will note that if you are interested in “all at once” - be ready to learn. In the profession of product designer do not immediately fall, but rather "grow" from the adjacent field.

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