Everyone is a designer

an argument against meaningless titles

As I meet more and more people in the tech industry, I am increasingly faced with “I’m a designer” when I ask someone what they do. The first few times I heard this, I chalked the person up to being a “web designer”, and got a wide variety of responses when I asked the obvious follow-up question, “What do you design?”.

Before I get too far, I want to clarify that the answer “I’m a designer” does NOT simply answer the question, “What do you do”. I am not asking “What do you define yourself as”, I am simply trying to get an understanding of the types of professional skills you use on a daily basis.

I used to be of the mindest that (when referencing the tech industry) that the title “designer” was limited to people who worked with pixels and did not work with code. Therefore, if someone worked with pixels AND code, they were somehow entitled to not limit themselves by the “web designer” title, and thusly be considered a “Designer Developer” or something like that.

In thinking about this though, it came to me, that we are ALL designers. Yep, I said it. EVERYONE is a designer to some extent. When you break down the definition of what it means to be a designer, we can simply say that a designer is “someone who creates a crafted approach to something”. How’s that for obscurity!?

A farmer designs the way a field is planted, a teacher designs curriculum and presentation, a chef designs the way ingredients are prepared, even an accountant designs a financial process.

This mindset could not be more relevant in the tech industry though. Many of us don’t simply wear one hat on any given project, and most of the time we are finding ourselves taking on any number of “designer” roles. For example, if you create a wireframe, you could be considered a “UX Designer” or if you write the content you use on the site, you could be a “content designer”. Therefore, why not call someone who writes the code for the site a “markup designer”?

My whole point to this article is simply this: Titles are bogus. It’s what you DO and the responsibilities that you have, that define you. We are all “designers”. The only thing that is different between designer to designer, is what you choose to design and the level of professionalism you design to. Therefore let that be a guide to opening your mind to the work that you do.

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