UX Design Roles & Responsibilities

by | 0 comments

I want to start by mentioning that I consider myself a student in the developing field of User Experience Design and am continually looking for ways to improve our company’s UX efforts.  So, the purpose of this article is to promote discussion.  This is not a “5 tips in structuring your UX team” article.  But rather a “Here is what we’re doing. How are you doing it?”.  I’m interested in how your teams are structured and what your team member’s roles and responsibilities look like.

Design Thinking

I’m going to start this discussion the same way I always start broad UX discussions with stakeholders at our company; by making sure we are on the same page when it comes to Design Thinking.  Design Thinking is at the center of how we execute UX Design throughout our company and ties into how we assign roles and responsibilities within our Agile Framework.  For the sake of time, and to get into the primary topic of roles and responsibilities, I’m going to do a quick high-level overview of the process and will plan to do a deeper dive in the future.   

Simply stated, Design Thinking is a sequential (and cyclical) process that has been put in place by companies like ours to ensure that the development of products and services align with the needs and wants of the target audience.  What I like most about Design Thinking is that it keeps the focus on the user early and often throughout the development of a product.

The first step is empathy, which is where user research takes place.  Some methods of research could include focus groups, surveys, and usability testing.  Once you have obtained a good understanding of your user and what they need and want from your product, you move on to define the specific problem you will work to solve through the remainder of the design sprint.  From there, the team develops creative solutions that address the defined problem and bring those ideas to life through prototyping, which you will bring to the user to test (these last couple of steps are often repeated as you obtain user feedback).  Once you have a winning design, it is passed on to the developers for implementation.  Once implemented, you can begin the process of measuring the success of that particular design sprint.  

Dual-track agile

As mentioned, our company works primarily within an Agile Framework.  So, here’s sort of the bird’s eye view of how our Design Thinking process fits within that fast-paced environment.  Essentially, we follow what is known as Dual-Track Agile; where design sprints and development sprints are happening simultaneously with UX team sprinting ahead of development.

A typical scenario would be that a user story is selected from the backlog and brought in for a design sprint.  The UX designer and researcher takes it through the Design Thinking process steps 1 through 5; from research, to defining goals, ideating solutions, creating prototypes, and testing.  At that point a winning prototype is select, attached to the user story in Dev Ops, and the design sprint is completed. 

At the beginning of a development sprint a user story with an attached winning prototype is picked up and brought in for development.  Throughout the development sprint the UX designer and researcher provide any support the development team may need to implement the design.   

UX / Agile Integration (team structure)

Here is the basic structure of our UX team.  I’ll go more in detail regarding the role of each of these positions in a bit, but at a high level you can see that each Agile team includes people filling the role of a UX Designer (blue) and UX Researcher (purple).  The way we are currently operating, these two UX roles may be team member’s one and only role on the team, or a part of an expanded role on the team, depending on the product they are working on.  But nevertheless, these individuals are responsible for executing UX Design practices on their team.  In addition to a UX Designer and Researcher, each team also has an assigned User Interface (UI) Designer (green) who provides advanced design support as needed.  And then finally, the UX Lead (orange) oversees all UX operations and provides support, resources, and training to the UX designers, UI designers, and UX researchers. 

The UX Designer’s role is to be the voice of and advocate for the user throughout the development of the product.  They make sure each component of the product they are working on is in its most logical and accessible place and that multi-step processes are streamlined and intuitive.

Within the Design Thinking process, the UX Designer:

  • Supports the UX Researcher through the empathy, define, and testing stages
  • Leads the ideation and prototyping stages
  • Provides support to the developers during implementation

Who fills this roll?

This is a trainable role that can be filled by business analysts, branding specialists, or anyone who:


  • Is capable of empathizing with the user
  • Is a good team player
  • Has a willingness to learn and adapt
  • Has a basic knowledge of layout and design

The UX Researcher provides actionable and meaningful data-driven insights that represent the voice of multiple users. They collaborate with their team, along with product leadership, to evaluate user research needs that help improve the product and drive business goals.

Within the Design Thinking process, the UX Researcher:

  • Leads the empathy, define, and testing stages
  • Supports the UX Designer through ideation and prototyping
  • Measures and communicates the success of the design sprint


Who fills this roll?

This is a trainable role that can be filled by business analysts, branding specialists, or anyone who:

  • Is capable of empathizing with the user
  • Is a good communicator and team player
  • Has a willingness to learn and adapt
  • Has a data-driven mindset

The User Interface (UI) Designer provides support to the Agile teams when advanced design concepts are required, new layouts are introduced, or design elements outside the design library are needed.  When they join a design sprint, they work closely with the UX Designer and Researcher to learn about the product and target users.  They then work with the team to develop creative solutions that address the problem defined for the design sprint and create high quality prototypes that meets both the users’ needs and business goals. 

Within the Design Thinking process, the UI Designer:

  • Participates in ideation
  • Leads the prototyping stage
  • Provides support to the developers during implementation

Who fills this roll?

This role can be filled by people who have a strong understanding of interaction design, are fluent in the Adobe Creative Suite, and can develop creative design solutions from complex user data.  Additionally, the people in this role must: 


  • Be capable of empathizing with the user
  • Be a good communicator and team player
  • Be willing to learn and adapt
  • Have a data-driven mindset that values results over design

The UX lead promotes excellence and consistency across teams, focuses on high-level user experience, and supports/develops UX/UI Designers and UX Researchers.

Additionally, the UX Lead:


  • Provides and facilitates training to new UX/UI Designers
  • Maintains, updates, and distributes asset libraries
  • Maintains and updates UX Toolbox which provides resources to execute the Design Thinking process
  • Works with development teams in advancing and maintaining web and design standards
  • Meets regularly with UX/UI designers to talk through current projects and debrief on completed work

Within the Design Thinking process, Agile Team Members:


  • Participate in the define and ideation stages
  • Provide input on feasibility of design components
  • Implement winning prototypes

What are your thoughts?



Submit a Comment

Related Posts