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Org Design for Design Orgs by Peter Merholz, Kristin Skinner

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Chapter 5. Roles and Team Composition

SO FAR IN THIS BOOK, we have been vague about the people who make up the design organization, mostly lumping them under the term “designers.” Roles, responsibilities, and job titles don’t exist in a vacuum, but respond to the nature and needs of the organization. Explaining the Centralized Partnership was necessary before digging into our role definitions.

Design roles are notorious for their confusing titles and responsibilities. Should you hire a UX Designer? A UI Designer? UX/UI Designer? An Interaction Designer? A Product Designer? A Visual Interface Designer? Maybe an Information Architect? Design for marketing is a little more mature, but still suffers from label mania—are you looking for a Graphic Designer? Marketing Designer? Communication Designer? Brand Experience Designer? And what about the team’s leaders? Do you call them Creative Directors? Design Directors? Should you have a VP of Design? What is a Head of Design? What does that person do?

Though frustrating in practice, this confusion speaks to a dynamism and vitality in the design profession that makes the work so exciting. To help temper that confusion, we propose a taxonomy of roles and responsibilities for a progressive organization that upholds our view of design’s potential. It may at the outset be confusing, as it runs contrary to legacy practices that many have come to accept unquestioningly. Stay with it through to the end, and all the pieces should fall into place.

It’s ...

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