What is the difference between a User Experience Designer, Information Architect and Visual Designer?

10 Jan 2011 - 6:27pm
5 years ago
5 replies
5670 reads
Shilpi Joshi

On behalf of Bestica, we wish a rocking and creative 2011 to the Interaction Design community :)

Recently couple of our clients has been using UX Designer title for a Visual Designer role. So, our question is:

  1. Can a User Experience Designer title be used to describe just a Visual Designer? 
  2. How would you define a User Experience Designer in terms of skill sets and output deliverables? 
  3. What is the difference between a User Experience Designer and Information Architect? 

Your kind input will be highly appreciated.


10 Jan 2011 - 6:43pm
Dave Malouf


  1. No. If a visual designer is not doing research (generative &/or validative), contributing to the structure and behavior, and overall strategy of the connection points between the human beings and the system, then they are not a UX Designer. UX != "feeling". That being said a solid UX Designer SHOULD be a visual designer as well, but doesn't have to be. 

  2. Research, structure, behavior. Artifacts may vary, thinking shouldn't.

  3. They can ostensibly be the same thing depending on the organization and the roles and deliverables assigned. 


-- dave

13 Jan 2011 - 10:49am
Shilpi Joshi

Thanks a lot Dave. This certainly helps.




11 Jan 2011 - 3:41am
Yohan Creemers

Dan Saffer wrote elsewhere on the web:

User Experience Design is the general term under which all types of design (visual, interaction, sound, industrial, etc.) fall. Even fields like architecture, writing, HCI, information architecture, ergonomics, and a host of others could all be considered UX, because they are all concerned with the overall impression a user has when engaging with a product.

So to call yourself a user experience designer you should cover all these sub-disciplines. There is overlap between the sub-disciplines and it's not uncommon than one person is responsible for visual and interaction design, or for interaction design and information architecture. But I think few designers are so all round that they can cover the whole field in a professional manner and call themselves ux designer. For excellent ux design you will need a ux team with several designers specialized in one or more of the sub-disciplines.

- Yohan

13 Jan 2011 - 10:51am
Shilpi Joshi

Hey Yohan,

This was what we had percepted too earlier. But, some new descriptions from the agencies got us thinking. Thanks for your comments. It helps.



14 Jan 2011 - 5:07pm
Adam Korman

The title UX Designer can mean just about anything. I think more important than can you use a "UX Designer" title to describe a visual design role is, will the title communicate what both job seekers and hiring managers expect? I think most people who are looking for a job title of UX Designer will be disappointed if all that is expected/needed is someone to do visual design. As a hiring manager, if I were looking to fill a purely visual design role, I would be concerned that someone with a UX Designer title on their resume might not be suited for the role.

When I see job titles (either in job posts or on someone's resume), until I read the details of the responsibilities, I read User Experience Designer, Interaction Designer and Information Architect as the same. Most people don't get to pick their own job titles and many people creating job titles don't really know what people do.

To be clear, there is a difference between information architecture and interaction design, but they are often done by the same person in one role with either job title (or another one altogether, like User Experience Designer).

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