What’s the difference in UX job titles?

Summary:  What’s the difference in UX job titles? Hiring the wrong job title can land you in hot water if you bring UX resources into your organization. Like with any role, job titles matter– they indicate the intended function that role is expected to perform. Because user experience acts as an influencing force in design, marketing, and engineering– it is important that the political positioning of that person be right.

Confusion can arise if stakeholders are unfamiliar with Human Centered Design and its UX mindsets and methods. The question, “What do UX people do?” is common. The most simple answer is that all UX people work on an aspect of a design to center decisions around user needs. Whether User researcher, UX Writer, UX Designer, or Front-end dev/Designer, all UX folks align and validate user needs and behavioral performance. When hiring or managing a UX program or any UX resource, ensure you understand your team’s role or job title. 

See UX Management starts with understanding UX Roles.

To illustrate the dilemma, let’s start with a typical story:

A client sought to hire a senior UX manager yet designated the role as “UX Designer” to deter candidates solely from seeking management positions. This strategy backfired, attracting Information Architects (IA) and individuals with design or wireframe-oriented expertise. The job title underwent edits and ultimately reflected the desired skill set.

Classically, what you ask for, you get. So, defining what you want or expect from a UX manager vs what they actually ought to be doing is important.

See What roles do UX Managers play?

Contrast the language between “UX Designer” and “UX Architect”

The term “architect” often implies a focus on business requirements or technical aspects, indicating a background bridging these domains to UX. Meanwhile, “designer” suggests proficiency in crafting wireframes, possibly rooted in a graphic design background.

The issues with the language you use when describing these roles lie in your expectations and biases of what each should do. For example, if you hire a UX Architect, expect that role to provide more analytical, metrics-oriented, and business analysis functions to the role. This can be perfect for teams liaising with Service Designers because understanding policies can be helpful for example. 

Does the difference in UX job titles matter?

It is important to be transparent about roles and responsibilities instead of casting roles that move teams further away from users or a deeper understanding of context of use. One of the worse situations for UX employees is to have a role and then not be doing all the things that make you that role. For example, “UX manager” is a common job title, but strategic UX rarely happens, with a bias for tactical UX. In other words, the manager is managing deliverables, not process or organizational transformation. 

See Managing UX: strategic vs. tactical- which approach is right?

Unfortunately, designations like “UX Designer” can often morph into titles that generate “pseudo empathy” for users, eroding the credibility of UX contributions. True empathy, however, can only be cultivated through direct user interaction. As usability authority Jared Spool aptly put it:

“The quality of your software is directly proportional to how much contact you make with your users.”


UX job titles wield both political and functional implications that transcend mere verbiage. However, amid the intricacies of titles, the core mission should never be sidelined: to elevate user experiences for real users. To accomplish this, granting regular access to users becomes a non-negotiable necessity—ensuring that your team is in touch with users’ needs and behaviors, not sporadically, but consistently.

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