This is probably the most debated topic regarding the different kinds of designers and their different roles. it's almost impossible to answer. in reality most designers wear many hats.

lets look at a scenario where there was every kind of designer under one roof. how would they work together at which part of the process. This might help up get a better understanding of each kind of designers scope

  • graphic designer
  • interaction designer
  • product designer
  • user experience designer
  • user interface designer

the most challenging to differentiate would probably be between product designer and ux designer, ui designer and interaction design

  • I think the answer to the question might also depend on the type of process that you apply. And also the nature of UX design work means that ideally they should work across a number of different areas.
    – Michael Lai
    Mar 16, 2017 at 4:26

4 Answers 4


In the (highly improbable) situation where you have designers with each of those job titles, and none of them are directly collaborating or working in tandem, and setting aside the many other job titles that could overlap partially or completely with those listed here -- information architect, product architect, product management, information design...

...With those caveats, I'd put them in this order:

  • Product designer "What does the product do?"
  • User experience designer "How should it do that?" in terms of overall product architecture and workflow.
  • Interaction designer "How should it do that?" at the per-page or per-feature level of detail.
  • User interface designer "How should it do that?" at the per-widget level of detail.
  • Graphic designer "What should it all look like?"

That said, if you really did silo these tasks separately like this, you'd be very likely to wind up with a terribly disjointed product -- design is an inherently holistic task; all the parts need to coordinate and work together. (I don't subscribe to the There Can Be Only One Designer school of thought, but you do need a clear, singular vision of how all the parts should fit together in order for people to not wind up pulling in different directions.)

Also: with the possible exception of the last one, these job titles do not in any way have universally-agreed-upon definitions. ("Interaction designer" and "User interface designer" in particular are effectively interchangeable titles -- the distinction I made between them here is largely an artifact of how the question was structured.)

And there's a ton of overlap between these roles in any real-world situation: any individual designer will wind up doing some part of all of these tasks, and the scope of their design responsibilities will usually have more to do with seniority and talent than with their specific job title.


In an ideal world, everyone would be working together through the entire process.

In a smooth running agile environment (admittedly, a bit rare) this is what happens.

  • yes. but how? where does for example ui design separate from interaction design. or where does product design differentiate from user experience design. if each of these roles require mutually exclusive skills or at least some stronger skills than others why would in reality there be so much overlap and confusion over each role?
    – Blue Ocean
    Mar 16, 2017 at 8:38
  • @AmeenAkbar "how?" is a much larger question that probably can't be answered here. But...to maybe help...UI Design and Interaction Design aren't separate. All of this has to work together. It's about collaboration and communication and iterative design. I'm a Front End Dev on an Agile team. But I still do UX work when needed. I do UI work as needed. I help with testing. There is a lot of overlap on an Agile team and that's a good thing (for the most part).
    – DA01
    Mar 16, 2017 at 15:16

If it is difficult to differentiate maybe they should be merged into one role. Software engineering is relatively new, and job roles and their boundaries are yet vague and under developemt.

In most projects what you need is :

  • Product Manager. Responsible for the business perspective.

A product manager communicates product vision from the highest levels of executive leadership to development and implementation teams. The product manager is often called the product "CEO". The product manager investigates, selects, and drives the development of products for an organization, performing the activities of product management. A product manager considers numerous factors such as intended demographic, the products offered by the competition, and how well the product fits with the company's business model.

  • User Experience Designer. Responislbe for the user perspective.

User experience design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. ... User experience design includes elements of interaction design, information architecture, user research, and other disciplines, and is concerned with all facets of the overall experience delivered to users.

  • Graphic Designer. Responislbe for the graphics perspective.
  • This isn't wrong, however, I think the entire team should be approaching it all from the "user perspective".
    – DA01
    Mar 16, 2017 at 15:17
  • There's no confusion between a product designer and a product manager as the designer is more execution oriented.
    – Blue Ocean
    Mar 17, 2017 at 3:22

I'll bite.

In an ideal world there's one person responsible for the lot.

A brilliant, instinctually capable genius of design able to instantly ascertain an ideal blend of objective and actuation throughout all processes, from all positions on the target platform, for the desired audience.

Anything requiring more people is less than an ideal world.

  • 1
    I think you're reading the question way to literally, by "an ideal world" OP clearly just means "barring any sort of outside forces such as poor managers/beuracracy, time restrictions, etc." to get us to just focus on what should happen. And even if you did want to read into it as a "perfect" world I would think having 5 "perfect" workers simultaneously work on 5 different parts would be more efficient than this one person.
    – DasBeasto
    Mar 16, 2017 at 16:40
  • 1
    Only if those 5 workers have the same design philosophies and tastes... which is hard to achieve. Apr 16, 2017 at 2:04

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