Difference between Interaction Designer, Visual Designer and Usability Expert

UX Design is a relatively new field which has rapidly gained importance and popularity for the development of digital products. Given its recent rise to the top as one of the most important aspects of digitalization there is still quite a bit of confusion regarding the different roles in the field of UX design. In this article, we will try to illustrate the difference between UX vs UI vs Research & Usability hopefully clearing some of the myths on the way. 

1. UX/UI designer - UX and UI are not synonymous and there is nothing called a UX/UI designer. What is referred to as a UX/UI designer in the industry is often a generalist UX designer who can manage the end-to-end design process. Now, while this may work for a startup that is trying to save cost or smaller organizations still building the UX practice the industry trend is to hire specialists for different roles which we will outline in detail below. 

2. UX designer a.k.a Interaction designer – These are the guys that are responsible for creating the design strategy and solution. Their job role entails

a. Requirement gathering for projects – understanding business needs, technology ecosystem and target users.
b. Defining customer journeys 
c. Defining the product features 
d. Creating task flows, navigation structures and information architecture 
e. Creating wireframes & digital prototypes

3. UI Designer a.k.a Visual Designer – This is the profile that most people imagine when they think of a UX designer. However, in the field of UX visual designers are specialist who are responsible for defining the visual concept for a product. Their responsibilities include
a. Defining the visual language for a product 
b. Defining colour schemes, fonts, iconography and other visual elements

4. User researcher/usability expert – UX design is all about the user. Anyone who is designing a product without any research and testing is setting themselves up for failure. However, research and testing still have a long way to go before they become mainstream job roles in all organizations. Today, in many organizations the onus of research and testing falls to the interaction designers who double up as researchers as and when required. The responsibility of a User researcher/usability expert include 
a. Conducting user research using different methodologies such as surveys, interviews, ethnographic studies, contextual enquiry etc. 
b. Conducting usability testing using methods such as task based testing and lab studies 
c. Writing research and testing reports 
d. Analyzing research data to provide key user insights 
e. Creating customer journey maps and defining user personas