Why is so tough to understand what a UX designer does?


I get more and more email like this:

at the beginning I tried to explain, to the recruiter, the “thin” difference between a UX designer and front-end developers (or engineer). Afterwards, considering the amount of requests, I thought I was “teaching” or “educating” them for free.

I start to think that LinkedIn is more and more used by junior recruiters and by recruiters coming from IT world without any clue what UX is. These guys easily get confused by roles, by skills, by technologies and by naming convention (UX vs UI is a clear example).

Is it also happening to you?


Short answer, yes.

We recently had a few people on our floor switch positions. When the new product manager moved into our office, I was asked to give him a presentation on what UX is because he thought, and I quote, I was “the Photoshop guy”. To be fair, I fill about four roles here and one of them is graphic design, so I can’t blame him. But after the presentation his whole outlook changed. It was great to see the light come on. Sadly, we aren’t afforded opportunities to explain the field in depth to everyone like that.


Hi @dopamino this is really funny :slight_smile: thanks for sharing.

This looks like a message from the outsourced recruiter, who was briefed by a company that hasn’t defined it dev process. That always rings alarm bells, because usually their hiring for 2 things 1. for you to sort out a big mess and 2. to mentor others. And usually, the reason they are in a big mess it because they don’t understand the process, hence the AD. Conclusion: ‘Avoid like the plague’.

What I’ve found is in-house recruiters for big companies with a mature dev process, know exactly what they want - and roles are not merged.


I think the difficulty stems from several factors. One, knowledge of the field is very new and it has not been part of project process for most companies. They have established ways of thinking and the duties that are now a UX designers used to be divvied out among other positions. BAs covered some of it, DEVs covered some of it, and it was all kind of a hodge- podge. So perhaps it is understandable if they look at a UX designer and say to themselves, “Oh…they work like a BA/dev/QA person.” Depending on how it is described to them.

Secondly, UX itself is so multidisciplinary and we have many professionals who started out in other fields. So it’s entirely possible that a UX designers has dev skills, or BA skills, or designer skills. But not EVERY UX designer will have these backgrounds.

Thirdly, for all that UX champions simplicity, it is difficult to describe to people. I find myself having to explain to UX to just about everyone in my company, and it’s quite difficult. By this point I’ve refined it fairly well, but I definitely see why it’s hard to explain the discipline without someone saying “Oh, so it’s like <blank.>”

Add to that the fact that most recruiters don’t really look in-depth at any one position. They tend to use a net rather than a fishing line to snag people and they don’t take the time to educate themselves on individual disciplines.

Anyway, that’s my two (three?) cents.


hi @Louise
I guess you’re right he is an external contractor.
For me it’s not clear why a company (or agency) waste his time, money and effort hiring such providers.
In my experience, sometimes, is related to the company size, sometimes it’s because the management decides to go “online” and they’re not ready enough to do that and some managers are just in a hurry.
What is frustrating for me it’s the lack of knowledge about the job profiles form the recruiter point of view.
I’m a fan of LinkedIn, nowadays is becoming more and more full of useless stuff, not only for the job search but for the content as well and it’s a pity…


I guess that’s the point. Nowadays UX is a buzzword in many countries (here in Switzerland for instance) and UX designers are the most rare “pokemon” on the market. Head hunters and recruiters can earn a lot of money with such roles due to the fact that the companies really don’t know what a UX is. Or better when a company decides to hire a UX they are not 100% sure which gaps they want to fill or which step of the product design process they want to boost.
Like I wrote before my frustration is not because the companies but is related to the recruiters lack of knowledge in terms of UX.
Just go on google an spend half an hour to, at least, understand who is writing the code and who is taking care of the experience.