According to the Staff and Contractors page, May is a 'Visual Experience Designer', which sounds like exactly what you're describing when it comes to the overlap between interaction and visual design. Is it just that you lack the visual design resources currently (one visual designer who isn't even just visual design does seem a bit insufficient for such a huge task!) to not overlap your roles?

Also, very cool to see how the roles interact laid out like this.

You're a UX engineer too, right? Does this mean you're often one of the ones interacting with other engineers/developers?

Sorry if I'm getting a bit off track here - design has always been one of the more opaque areas of the Foundation, at least from a volunteer perspective, and it's really nice to get a view of what's going on in such an integral part of the organisation.

On 10/11/15 22:50, Sherah Smith wrote:
>>Why do you make the distinction that UX designers also do visual when you stated already that you also have specifically visual designers? 

Because interaction design and visual design are separate things. Visual designers are hired to design visual components, while UX designers are hired to design user experiences. Sometimes building experiences involves visual design, but not always - for example, in cases where we are innovating new ideas that do not yet have standards.

>>Are the visual designers the ones doing the UI standardisation?

May, who is a Visual Designer, is indeed working on UI Standardization, along with Volker, who is a UX Engineer. 

>>How does Design Research relate to the rest of this?

Design Researchers conduct user research ---> UX Engineers build interactive prototypes working with Design Research and Designers ---> Designers polish and iterate the prototypes with the prototypers ---> Engineers build the designs

As for the difference between UX Designer and UX Engineer, the main difference is that the UX Engineer has an engineering background and applies that to the building (coding) of interactive prototypes.

On Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 2:32 PM, Isarra Yos <> wrote:
Er, forgot to cc the main list, since I did cross-post in the first place.

Sorry about that!

On 10/11/15 22:25, Isarra Yos wrote:
Hi, thank you for your response. This does clarify a lot.

Why do you make the distinction that UX designers also do visual when you stated already that you also have specifically visual designers? Are the visual designers the ones doing the UI standardisation?

How does Design Research relate to the rest of this? You state that they are not designers, but their work is an integral part of the user experience design process.

Also, in the future, could you please use a darker colour (or even just leave it as the default) for your emails? That grey is really hard to read and I misread a few things the first time that made it look a little... different from what you obviously meant.


On 10/11/15 22:04, Sherah Smith wrote:
Hi Isarra,

>> what is the 'design team'?

Even though the design team (as it used to be) is now split out under different managers with no centralized Director, we still consider ourselves a "team" in that we still work together across teams to maintain consistency and provide feedback, collaborate, and review one another's work where needed. We have a weekly meeting and regularly talk and brainstorm in person across teams to support one another in our work.

Design Research is the team that conducts research that informs the design of products we build on all other teams. The employees on this team are not designers.

Reading Design is a sub-team under Reading, and it designs reading experiences, mostly for mobile platforms. Where you see "Visual Designer" as a title, that person works on visual designs. "UX Designer" works on combinations of visual and user experience design, mostly the latter, and "UX Engineer" builds interactive prototypes and interaction design.

The reorganization that you reference happened in late April this year and was not a decision the design team itself made. Rather, it came from upper management. We do now work within the teams you see listed on the staff page, on experiences for those teams specifically. So for example, you will not see a designer on the Search & Discovery team working on experiences for the Editing team.

Is there a particular concern you have about this organization that you feel like we should be discussing, or does this answer your questions?

Thank you,

On Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 1:21 PM, Isarra Yos <> wrote:
From time to time I see references to the 'design team' on lists and on phabricator. But what does this really mean now? As I understood it, the previous monolithic Design Team was essentially disbanded toward the beginning of the year, with the designers themselves distributed amongst the other WMF teams in order to more directly integrate their services into the development workflow (which sounds like a pretty good idea to me, at least, since design is such an integral part of most development). Did this happen? According to, there seem to still be two teams now with the word 'design' in their names, Reading Design and Design Research, though these both seem to have somewhat more specialised functions than just general design, namely Reading (sounds like front-end non-interactive mw stuff, the visuals perhaps?) and Research.

So what is the 'design team'? Is it one of these, though the teams only have 5 and 4 people on them, respectively? Is it just WMF designers in general?

As much as this is also just a plea to please be more specific, if you have an actual answer, or if you have been saying this, please, speak up, share your experience and where you're coming from. As confusing as it is, I suspect a discussion of what and why this has been going on could also clear up quite a bit.



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Sherah Smith
UX Engineer
Wikimedia Foundation

Design mailing list

Design mailing list

Sherah Smith
UX Engineer
Wikimedia Foundation

Design mailing list