Many of today’s tech job specs are multi-disciplinary, meaning it’s increasingly difficult to pinpoint and define a clear scope of skillsets and job descriptions for a specific job role. This is especially common in the landscape of startups where the broadest possible spectrum of skills for an individual role is desired by the employers.
In the case of UX/UI designers, many will start off with a focus on the visual and aesthetic designs of the product being developed, but will soon receive requests to handle marketing related tasks such as social media promotion, landing page and edm design, and even print promotion.
Soon enough, these designers will realize the lack of competent in their project management, frontend coding, copywriting, and much more. They are then on the quest to plan their next step in acquiring new set of skills to boost their career development and advance in their career path.
If the above scenario is what you are currently facing, you might already be unwittingly on the path of becoming a full-stack designer.
What Defines a Full-Stack Designer?
Simply put, a full-stack designer is a designer that is involved at every stages of the product design process, from project planning, product positioning, market and user research, user experience design, to UI design implementation, and sometimes even coding. This might seem overwhelming, challenging and unrealistic, but definitely satisfying and rewarding down the road for being able to become this unicorn designer.
Full-stack designer is rare, and often can earn a thick paycheck. They typically have an understanding of the entire product development process, possess a broad inventory of skills including UX and UI design, frontend coding, project management, UX writing, creating design systems, prototype testing, and is familiar with a wide range of design software including Sketch, Figma, InVision, Zeplin, Adobe Suite, etc.
Are Full-Stack Designers Desirable?
Full-Stack designers are most in demand by startups and SMEs alike. However, the size of the employing company and its business type can have a huge effect on the approach in hiring staff by the HR department.
First, let’s discuss the size of companies and their hiring approach. The larger the employing organization (e.g. more mature companies), more specialized roles (specialist) are hired whereas the smaller the employing organizations (e.g. less mature companies), more versatile roles (full-stack) are hired as employers would want to utilize as many skills from a single headcount to optimize the operation and cost.
Second, let’s discuss the type of companies and their hiring approach. The employing companies can be agencies, or startups, or in-house, or multinational consultancy firms which operates at a different pace and project scale. Projects from agencies or consultancies are typically larger in scale and would require a more structured workflow (more specialist required) whereas startups will typically have a less defined workflow and rapid working pace (more full-stack required).
It is also a huge benefit as a team member that understands the entire process, full-stack designer is able to design with a real concept of the limitations and achievable goals from the business and development perspective and this makes the full-stack designer more desirable. They’re capable of communicating with the product owner and developers to propose solid solutions, making the hand-off process much smoother.
Is it a Bless or a Curse?
Perhaps you’re someone already seeking for new skills to challenge your comfort-zone. If you are determined to develop a long-term career path in the tech industry, then acquiring the skills of a full-stack designer would definitely be a blessing as this will enable you to familiarize the entire product development process and be more flexible in all types of working setting.
If you are a person who prefers a more focus in work and dislikes juggling between a diverse types of tasks, then the specialist pathway would be more appropriate for your career development.
Conclusion: Should You Become a Full-Stack Designer?
It is strongly recommended that you learn and invest in acquiring the wide array of skills that are highly demanded by startups and SMEs. Afterall, 98% of the economy is comprised of SMEs and the chances of being hired by these companies is high. Furthermore, learning the full-stack approach will serve as the springboard for you to land a managing role in the future, or perhaps even become a startup founder when the opportunity arises.
The skills of full-stack design are especially lucrative if you’re a freelancer or IT consultant. By being able to handle the entire design process, you can add more values to the project and provide a wider scope of service to your clients.
Acquire the Skills of a Full-Stack UX/UI Designer
At the core of the digital transformation process, user experience (UX) design is undoubtedly one of the most important aspect for developing desirable digital products or services. Learning from a reputable academy will enable you to acquire a wide range of skills highly demanded of a UX designer. With these skills, you will have the confidence to plan, manage and implement UX/UI design project from scratch to design proposal.
What you can do next: