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Quick question about the difference of Lead UX and Senior UX person. What are the responsibilities and goals between the two ?

I'm trying to decide what should I classify myself as Lead or Senior applicant. I have 7 years of front end development designing websites and dealing with UX principles.

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Few thoughts:

  • Lead UX is the top position in an organization which is responsible to drive UX process for the entire department or organization as a whole. This designation explains organizational hierarchy indicating that Lead UX is the top person in that organization. Now such a person in terms of experience may be a mid-level, mid-to-senior or a senior UX designer acting as Lead UX and there may be several Senior UX designers working under him.

  • Senior UX is scale of experience but doesn't reflect under which organizational hierarchy he is working. The designation Senior UX doesn't reflect if he is working as Lead UX, UX Director or working under a support role helping other members of the team.

On side note, designations are organization specific and can be misleading. If there is one UX Designer working in an organization, he is technically leading the process but he may have any level of experience. Also if an organization hires two mid-level UX designers making one as senior, the senior one in line may start calling himself as Senior UX because of his relative position but in terms of experience, he would still be a mid-level UX designer.

Hope this helps.

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"designations are organizational specific" = I think that's the key. – DA01 Jan 16 '14 at 23:01

Titles are arbitrary organizational constructs created by the company. What is "Lead", "Principal", "Senior" is different from company to company.

Given your years of experience alone you may fall under a "Employee Lv. 2", a "Employee Lv. 3" or a "Senior Employee" -- it all depends on that particular companies organization structure. Are you actually leading anyone? If not, you're not a "Lead"... unless your company wants to arbitrarily use the term.

I recently left an employer who described an employee simply on a 1-6 scale. Everyone was a "Software Engineer Lv. 2" or a "Human Factors Engineer Lv. 5". There was no "Senior" and the term "Lead" meant you led people (but weren't a manager).

I now work for an employer who describes lower level positions in terms of 1-3, e.g. "Software Engineer Lv. 2", then tacks on the prefix "Senior" for a level or two, then uses the prefix of "Principal". When I speak to friends and tell them my title, they have no idea what "Principal" means in the context of their world.

If you work for a company, you should not be making up your own title. Without context given to it by the company, it is meaningless (even with context, titles are often meaningless).

If you don't work a company directly (i.e., you are a contractor or you want to put a "title" on your LinkedIn account), then don't give yourself one at all. You are a "UX Developer", or a "UX Designer", "with 7 years of experience".

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Senior reflects experience more accurately than lead, unless you were the authority (team lead, etc) within your organization in which case lead supersedes Senior. Lead positions tend to be occupied by Senior employees, contractors, etc.

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The difference is whatever the particular organization deems them to be.

Typically you'd only have one lead on one particular UX team, while maybe having several seniors, but that's not a hard-and-fast rule, either.

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We have the same issue at my company. I am a "UX Team Lead" but there are 4 levels in my org, none of which are called "UX Team Lead": Associate UX Designer, Professional UX Designer, Senior UX Designer, Principal UX Designer. Our company calls Team Leads "Principal", but many of us come from a Producer or Account Supervisor background and don't actually "design" or "develop" UX, rather we manage the team of designers, IAs, writers, devs, etc., who DO the work.

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