I'm a technical recruiter looking to learn more about UI/UX so that I can better attract quality candidates, and I'm putting together a presentation for a potential client. They are testing my knowledge of the 2-3 core discplines of UX and how they benefit organizations. I've narrowed my list to:

  • Interaction Design
  • Visual Design
  • Information Architecture

Basically how I'm looking at it (and remember I'm a recruiter not a designer) is that visual/interactive design are the front end and IA is the back end to a site. The site needs to look good, make sense and have usability, and then have the necessary content to back it up.

Does it seem to you that I am on the right track?

  • Thanks to everyone for the helpful and insightful comments! I very much appreciate your patience with my thoughts, and think I'm really starting to get this figured out... – Dustin Carper Mar 29 '10 at 13:50

To begin with, I'd say use "presentation layer" instead of front-end. IA is not the back-end. Back-end means code or database or even infrastructure. Avoid getting too definitional. Definitions drive us insane within and without the UX community. Instead, think about the types of activities a UX professional might engage in.

My suggestion is pick up a copy of Jesse James Garrett's The Elements of User Experience (it's a short book with lots of figures & illustrations), and study over the diagram contained within (also available here: http://www.jjg.net/elements/pdf/elements.pdf).

~ yoni

  • Thanks for the feedback. I printed out the diagram and am headed to Border's tonight to grab the book. Hopefully this will help to refocus my thinking to more of what UX professionals are doing. I'm learning that you can't really compare UX to other IT areas, such as software or web development. Thanks again! – Dustin Carper Mar 22 '10 at 21:50

Order Universal Principles of Design. It's the fastest way to learn the lingo. Highly suggested. Another "cliff notes" book is Don't Make me Think. I think that's the fastest way to seem like you know the space.

Smart to ask the question here. You did a good job of not recruiting while you were asking the question.


"The site needs to look good, make sense and have usability, and then have the necessary content to back it up."

Had to cringe at "have usability" - a site can be usable, but one cannot tack on "usability" as an extra feature.

As Yoni suggested, focus on the activities which the people you recruit will engage in and the results your client can expect from competent candidates (as well as the credentials and experience your client will want to see).

Also, regarding content, your client should expect to pay a premium for a UI/UX candidate who is also a professional copywriter.

  • Good point, I never thought of the idea of a candidate being a copywriter as well. Thanks for the input! – Dustin Carper Mar 22 '10 at 22:02

This is kind of where I'm looking to take things:

Visual Design is the “look” and Interaction Design is the “feel” of a website. Interaction Design could simply be described as what happens on your display when you click and type on a website. Visual Design is the graphical elements such as typography and any graphics that appear on the site. Information Architecture has to deal with labeling and organizing the sites, software and any online communities to support usability of the site. The IA is what is going to make the site make sense to users and holds the content and information contained in a website. Optimization is also a key factor to IA.

Again, comments/criticisms are much appreciated...

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    +1 Thanks for taking the time to figure this stuff out. It's not rocket surgery but (with a couple of exceptions) recruiters don't care what UX is and tend to send any CV with an appropriate sprinkling of keywords. But... You need to focus on the 'benefit to organizations' you mention in your original question, rather than definitions... – richcb Mar 23 '10 at 18:51
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    Way to go! That is a far better view of things than you had yesterday. Kudos. ~ yoni – Yoni Mar 23 '10 at 20:22
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    Yes, far too often have keyword searches been the downfall of recruiters!! – Alastair J Mar 24 '10 at 21:45

I put together a presentation a little while ago for my team at work to help them understand what I do; it might help explain one part of UX design:



Information architecture is more focused on how the structure appears to users, for instance do you have a "shoes" category with "men's shoes" and "women's shoes" as subcategories, or a "men's clothes" category with "mens shoes" under that and parallel structure for women. Or do you have both structures, which have overlap. Or do you not have a structure like that at all and rely on a search function to help users find what they want.

Exactly how it's structured behind the scenes, in the back end, is a different but related issue.

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