A Designer by Any Other Name…

I don’t know what to call myself anymore.

My job title is “Director of User Experience.” My day-to-day professional life looks a lot like that of any designer. I work in Sketch. I make wireframes and mock-ups.I read Designer News. I stress over color choices and font pairings.

But there’s more than that. I spend as much time coding as I do in Sketch. The Terminal is almost always open on my second monitor, running Gulp processes and SSHing into remote servers. I do a lot of writing, both strategic and editorial. I’m heavily involved in local community-building.

In the past, when someone asked me what I did, I’d frame everything around design. “I’m a designer and developer.” “I’m a designer who writes.” These seem inaccurate, like they’re giving short shrift to the other parts of what I do.

I’ve heard some interesting titles recently from others in a similar position: “full-stack designer” and “creative engineer” come to mind. Those both sound like they’re trying to shoehorn design tasks into an engineering framework, though. Neither feels right for what we do.

I don’t know why I’ve been resisting the term “designer.” Perhaps because it’s a word that’s simultaneously too broad and too limiting. Perhaps it’s because so many designers use it to describe who they are, not just what they do, as if it were the core part of their identity. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve been chafing under the design monoculture (no, Medium article, your vaguely-different design process won’t solve world hunger).

I’m not a designer because I love to design. I’m a designer because I love to make things, and this is a profession that allows me to do that on a daily basis. I haven’t found a better term yet. Until I do, I’ll continue to scramble for words whenever anyone asks. Better yet, I won’t think about it and will just keep on working.