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I find interest in reading job descriptions, for several reasons. One is to know where the industry is going and validate my own competence within the industry. Do I need to learn new things or is my line of work not of use? Questions I like to reflect on when I read job descriptions.

A few years ago one could read job descriptions of User Experience Designer close to what I studied at the university. Still best represented by Jesse James Garrets 15-year-old illustration of The Elements or User Experience:

enter image description here

Source: http://www.jjg.net/elements/pdf/elements.pdf

This year however I see a change of the User Experience Designer. On almost half of the job descriptions I’ve read (in Swedish) the User Experience Designer is described as an employee who will work with:

  • HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript
  • Photoshop
  • Mobile API

To me this is a Front End Developer with knowledge in Graphic Design, but not a User Experience Designer. But I’ve been wrong before and maybe the User Experience Designer job title is changing?

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    You're absolutely right. We have to read job postings very carefully. (I used to be called an Interaction Designer but that title has been changed too.) – Ken Mohnkern Dec 22 '15 at 20:06
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    My suspicion is that it's part of the "UX is hot right now. Let's call our frontend UI person a UX Designer to attract more attention to our job posting" movement. – nightning Dec 22 '15 at 20:18
  • Agreed with nighting, a lot of advertised job specs are translated through the filter of HR / Recruitment agencies. They'll just use whatever terminology seems trendy/new to them at the time and they don't know what a lot of it means anyways. e.g. do you know UX & Angular! Apply now! – mgraham Dec 23 '15 at 10:35
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    If you look carefully at Garret's diagram there's an arrow going up the right hand side: UX starts with business and user needs. So a UX person has to be good at understanding these things. Being good at these things is a long way from the skills described in the question. – PhillipW Jan 4 '18 at 19:49
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Jobs you don’t want

That's a pretty common sight on the job boards. It's not representative of a real change in the meaning of the term; it just represents an organization trying to "get some UX" by way of a title. It's the product of an executive team that doesn't actually know what UXD is about.

Your assessment is correct: What they really want is a front-end dev. Unfortunately for that poor soul, there won't be any validation behind what they're asked to execute. Their role will be dedicated to endless days of churn.

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Let's start with the meaning of User Experience.

Summary: "User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

Source: NNGroup https://www.nngroup.com/articles/definition-user-experience/

Responsibilities

You're not only responsible for a logic design. UX is the center of many aspects which will influence the user's experience on the website / system, including interaction design, motion design, visual design, loading speeds, photography, etc. and the implementation of your work. When you're able to talk the language of the developers you're working with, it will speed up the process and it will help you to understand the possibilities and restrictions.

What Google says

We’re looking for our next Noogler - someone who’s good for the role, good for Google and good at lots of things.

Things move quickly around here. At Internet speed. That means we have to be nimble, both in how we work and how we hire. We look for people who are great at lots of things, love big challenges and welcome big changes. We can’t have too many specialists in just one particular area. We’re looking for people who are good for Google—and not just for right now, but for the long term.

Source: http://www.google.com/about/careers/lifeatgoogle/hiringprocess/

In our discipline, new trends and discoveries are made each month (if not every week). For example, motion design has become a big part of the user experience in apps, so it helps if you know the basics of motion design in order to find the right people and communicate your needs.

Small companies

Startups and small companies don't always have the budget to hire a UX Designer, a Front End developer, a Visual Designer and more related specialists. They are looking for a superman who can do it all by him self.

Conclusion

Do you need to learn new things? Yes. It doesn't hurt. Things change quickly in this discipline. You don't have to be a specialist in Front End Development. But if you have basic knowledge, you will be more flexible.

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    Knowing about something and doing that thing are very different responsibilities. Generalizing is fine for knowledge development, but Google hires plenty of specialists too. – plainclothes Dec 23 '15 at 0:21
  • I agree that learning new things doesn't hurt. In fact I learn new things every day in work and by reading, getting tested and earn certifications. What is really important to me is that I learn the right new thing. Interesting argument in this post! – Benny Skogberg Dec 23 '15 at 4:30
  • It's hard to predict what might be "the right new thing" in the future. It also depends on the project you're working on. Being a specialist is good, but knowing some more general stuff next to that is even better, right? You don't have to be a Front End specialist. – Max de Mooij Dec 23 '15 at 6:23
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In my experience it is always best to ask as questions before you even apply for a UX job.

Things that worry me because they are not mentioned in a job spec are...

  • Whiteboard/workshop problem definition - What problems are we trying to solve?
  • Persona creation/definition - Who are the users and what are their pains, tasks and goals?
  • User and customer journey mapping - What is the journey the customer is making?
  • User testing and iteration - How do we know the design will work unless we test it with users?

Some of the more general questions I ask are...

  • What level of UX maturity are they at? (Google UX Maturity Levels)
  • How do they currently see UX within the company?
  • How many UX designers do they have already?
  • Where does this role sit within the company and team?

These questions will uncover "what you are dealing with" so you can make an informed decision about going further or not.

I am always suspect of a job title that says UX/UI as it shows it is either a misunderstanding of UX or a way to combine two roles into one.

If only people stopped using UX as the latest buzzword and actually understand what it entails. This includes hiring manager and recruiters.

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I'd usually have 2nd thoughts about these kind of Job postings. Basically they want to get more done with less by merging job roles, while at the same time they would expect you to be good at everything.

However, at the same time. I'd find Jobs with broad generalist scopes work good particularly at early stage start up environments. Why? because the designer would get to learn as much about the product while building the mvp and as the startup grows the designer is able to scale his team with more specialized people to improve the product once the core features are nailed down.

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