I’ve begun to work part time with a company called CreaLibre. I’ve worked on a couple of things with them over the past few weeks, from a newspaper, to a prototype web app, and I’ve realized something: I now do more than just design websites. The realization struck me when I started working on the new version of crealibre.com (a preview of which you can find on DeviantArt).
Web design is such a generic, vague term, and it’s often misused both inside and outside of our industry. When I started to write the content for the new version of my personal site, I had to stop and think. I asked myself “What is a web designer? How do my potential clients react when they see those ubiquitous words?”
Putting myself in their shoes, I decided that “Web Designer” is the new “Webmaster”. Clients don’t really know what to make of the title, and so many assume that we are capable of anything from Flash design to back-end programming.
“Webmaster”… It’s okay, when you’re done shuddering with revulsion, I’ll continue…
So, I’ve established that calling myself a web designer doesn’t cut it. What now?
Well, for a while now, the look and feel of a website has hardly been my main concern. I do put time into it, don’t get me wrong, but I spend a lot more time these days diagramming the Information Architecture of a site, and wire-framing the basic layout.
I can easily spend a week or more communicating with a client about how their site will work, rather than how it’ll look. Things like colors, textures, and graphics are very nearly incidental in my current process. (That’ll change, as I’ve decided to pursue a degree in graphic arts, but that’s how it stands for the moment…)
In short, I spend a lot more time thinking about how users will interact with and use the websites I make. I’m creating more than just pretty pictures and text, I’m creating an experience.
And so, yes, I’m going with the title of “User Experience Designer”. It’s more accurate, and since most people don’t know what that is, it can easily lead to an “elevator pitch”, where I describe exactly what I do.
This saves time, in the long run, as clients are less likely to ask me to do things that I don’t have the time or inclination to do.
That’s a Good Thing TM.