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.

8 Answers 8


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.

  • 6
    "designations are organizational specific" = I think that's the key.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 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".


I realize that this reply is too late to be helpful to you Doni, but it may be helpful to others.

For someone with 7 years of front end development experience, the job title most likely to describe them would be "Senior UX Developer," which is something I've seen posted in job ads lately. It is done as way to differentiate between UX Designers with development skills. Similarly, the term "UX Researcher" is different from "UX Designer" in that the researcher role probably won't include any user interface design or front end dev, but will require more knowledge of and experience with analytics, analysis, user testing and interviews and so on.

If you were to apply to a Senior UX Designer position, you might find that the role includes more user interface design (wireframes, prototyping, visual design) than you expected.

"Senior" is most often a designation for practice undertaken for 5+ years.


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.


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.


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.


In my organization, I am a Lead UX Designer. The title structure is:

Principal UX Designer Lead UX Designer Sr. UX Designer UX Designer II UX Designer I

So for us, Lead and Principal are different, but mainly in seniority. Lead or Principal for us really means the top level subject-matter-expert (SME) and the added responsibility of leading UX strategy as well as initiatives, on top of projects. We have a whole separate management track for managing team members.

There is no principal above me in my division, and across the organization in other UX teams, they are rare. Level I is pretty much non-existent as the org as a whole generally hires candidates with a at least a few years of experience.

We also have UX Researchers, Architects, Visual Designers, etc. with similar tiers.

  • Have you considered asking your organization what the difference is? These designations tend to be subjective. A Lead at Amazon and a Lead in a startup could have wildly different levels of experience and responsibilities.
    – Izquierdo
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 19:31

Old thread - but to the answer the OP: neither

A UX designer is not a front-end dev, no matter on how many years experience you have been keeping your eye on 'ux principles'

now - i realise that this was nearly 8 years ago, so maybe the world has moved on since then and there is now a better understanding :)

But to actually answer it - Senior is your level of experience.... maybe the years you've done it, maybe the knowledge and skills you show.

A Lead would lead their team: have a sight across the other senior / non-senior ux'ers, help to manage and shape them (but not necessarily be a manager) and usually be someone with more of a say / trusted more to make the calls.

I'm a Senior UX designer - but only been 'doing it' officially for 3 years, but I am also the Lead UX. We have the head of design who the team all report into individually, including me

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.