How Do Other Customer Focused Roles Relate to User Experience?

We dove a little deeper today into UX Fundamentals. We discussed a few terms that are similarly related to “User Experience” which can often cause confusion within each field. Knowing the similarities and differences between UX and User Interface(UI) design, Customer Experience (CX) and Product Manager is important to completely understanding a UX designer’s place within each of the compared roles.

There are many similarities and differences between UX and UI and are often the two most confused terms. Starting with differences, one of the most noticeable between the two is that UX encompasses the whole process of developing a product whereas UI primarily involves the design phases. A UI designer makes sure a product is visually appealing and essentially brings the “ooh and aah” factor to the user that is looking at that product without having used it yet. UX focuses on the entire experience that the user has from how they interact with a product to why they even bought it in the first place. A real-world comparison that I found helpful was an architect(UI) can design beautiful buildings that take your breath away, but it relies on an interior designer(UX) to make sure that whatever assets are placed inside the architect’s beautiful building matches it’s exterior. Such assets can include, furniture, cash registers (for stores), shelving, flowers, decorations, lights, etc. However without areas to plug items in an outlet, for example, you would not have light to see. So the interior designer has to work with the architect to let them know where they would like each outlet and how much power they need running through it. Both UI and UX design rely on each other and neither is more important than the other. That is because they are inherently linked. If you have a powerful UI, it means nothing if the UX is awful. And if the UI is hard to work with, the UX means nothing because both are responsible for working together to create a product that is both attractive, guiding and responsive to its users.

Maintaining Disneyland’s slogan, “The Happiest Place on Earth,” requires both UX and CX to work cohesively. — photo taken by myself.

Another term that is often compared to UX is CX. This is because both definitions are essentially the same thing. Both roles focus on the customer and their experience. The main difference is CX relates primarily to marketing, branding, and a company’s business-oriented stakeholders. CX is involved in a customer’s experience with a company or brand at all “touchpoints”. A touchpoint is defined as any and all ways a customer interacts with a brand. This includes seeing a brand’s product on a commercial or advertisement, purchasing the product, and using it. A real-world example of CX and UX that I can give is Disneyland. Disneyland’s slogan is “The happiest place on Earth.” Disney controls every interaction a guest has in the park. CX designers are responsible for creating ads, training employees, customer service, products or services, marketing materials, movies, and events, it’s mobile app and website. UX designers are responsible for each guest’s experience within the park to make each visit as magical as they expect it. This involves everything from smells, food carts strategically placed, requiring each cast member to wear their specific uniform for each ride/land, excellent customer service, making sure each ride is up-to-date, and if it’s not they become responsible for its rebranding. There are so many factors involved in making sure Disney keeps its promise of being the happiest place on Earth, and CX and UX need to work together to assure guests that it really is. Overall, it is easy to see how UX and CX are often confused with each other. However, there are a few differences that separate the two: UX focuses on a specific product and CX focuses on the company/brand’s reputation and bringing customers in to use what they are selling. Like UX and UI, UX and CX rely on each other to create an overall satisfying experience for the customer.

A head coach (PM) relies on his assistant coach (UX) to execute his vision for the team’s success. — photo courtesy of

The third term that goes hand in hand with UX is Product Manager. Product Manager is often confused with UX designer because many of their responsibilities overlap. Both roles focus on delivering a successful product- with the customer in mind, throughout its entire developmental cycle. I think the primary difference is a Product Manager doesn’t create the product specifically, whereas that is a UX designers sole focus. A Product Manager sort of serves as the deciding factor when it comes to making strategic decisions in regards to their product. They are required to have empathy, creativity, great communication and problem-solving skills. This is similar to what UX designer is also required to have. However, being a Product Manager involves not only worrying about a product’s success but also guides and organizes cross-functional teams. A real-world example of UX and Product Manager is a professional football team. The head coach(PM)is responsible for visualizing the team’s success and which direction he wants to take the team in. He then informs his team on his vision. His assistant coach(UX) executes training his players using his skill set, but also with the head coach’s vision in mind. If the team wins it makes for a great overall experience for fans that come in to watch that specific team. If they lose, it is possible that there is a miscommunication between the Product Manager and the UX designer. A Product Manager decides what a product’s vision should look like, while a UX designer executes the plan towards that vision. The two fields must work with each other to create a product they are proud of and to do so they must respect each other’s roles.

It’s easy to see why there are misconceptions between UX and UI, CX, and Product Manager. But after today I understand that each role is intertwined with each other. Each role has both similar and different responsibilities. Without each role working together, a company would fail to create a successful product, and more importantly, customers would be constantly let down.