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Visual designer – presentation of content, style, identity, “brand”
Information architect – site structure, wireframes, maybe prototype development and testing
Interaction designer – feature definition, behaviors (applications), wireframes, maybe prototype development and testing
Interface designer – (applications) presentation of functional elements, icon systems, type hierarchy, presentation of data, prototype development and maybe testing
Usability professional – assures accessibility, tests task completion, interface, navigation
User experience designer – skills in all to some degree. Ideally has deep skill/experience in one. May not have any visual design training. May come from humanities, library science, writing background
Visual designer – AIGA affiliation, BFA/MFA in graphic design. Focus on web over print. Work that shows a relationship to your site, ability to communicate clearly about what they provide and their process, capable of putting user needs ahead of visual treatment
Information architect – AIA, UPA affiliation, sample wireframes/prototypes for comparable projects. Team skills
Interaction designer – IxDA affiliation, degree from a design/architecture program. Possibly computer science background. Ability to demonstrate how their designs help users and solve business problems. Experience doing testing/research.
What to look for in a design professional, continued
Interface designer – ACM SIG-CHI/UPA/AIGA affiliation. Sample work that fits the scope of your project and is aesthetically appropriate and attractive. Ability to clearly articulate their process
Usability professional – UPA affiliation. Demonstrated sensitivity to your particular audience segment and/or site requirements
User experience designer – proven track record, relevant client/project list, recommendations from a range of professionals – business leaders, engineers, visual designers. Must have some experience with some form of user research. Affiliation with multiple design-related organizations.