A peek into how our industry is defining this new digital role

I analysed 30 different roles from some of the most well-respected companies in the world. Why? There’s a common question that keeps popping up in the conversations that I’m having; what is a Designer? I think I’m one… but, maybe I’m not…?! Or maybe I am…

It’s actually something that I struggle with explaining to peers in the web industry, but even more so people outside of it, so I took to the research streets to find out what some of the industry-leading companies are expecting of the role.

I sampled job descriptions from companies with teams of all ranges, from startups of under 10 to large companies with over 10,000 employees, to get a better understanding of what this role actually is all about, or at least how we — as an industry — are defining it.

The approach

Firstly, I collated the expected skills and traits from an array of role requirements into a skills matrix. This became a tool to assist with identifying what companies were looking for, which skills were more popular, and which skills held more value to potential employers.

Result: 36 trackable skills.

My next job was to sift through the job descriptions, assigning a rating to each skill with 0, 1, 2 or Bonus:

  • 0 if the job description didn’t mention that skill or trait
  • 1 if the skill was mentioned briefly, required a basic understanding or, implied inadvertently
  • 2 if the skill was referenced with an adjective like Expert, Superior, Highly Skilled, Excellent, etc
  • Bonus if the skill was mentioned as optional or nice-to-have

I also organised the skills into categories to get a better understanding of the scope of Product Designers:

  • Foundation Design Skills & Disciplines
  • Technical & Additional Knowledge
  • Personality & Professional Traits
  • Leadership & Teamwork

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