What do designers do?

Hint: Mostly create designs and attend meetings

By Ramy Khuffash

Last week I sent out a survey which tries to answer a seemingly simple question: What do designers do?

With the constantly expanding number of design roles and the various ways companies define them, it can be hard to know precisely what designers across the spectrum do, where they spend their time, and what’s important to them.

The survey had a total of 62 responses, which is fairly tiny, but there were still some clear patterns across the roles and types of businesses. Let’s dig into the data.

The results

In the last month, what are the 3 activities you've spent the most time on?

  • 64% of respondents mentioned "creating designs", which is hardly a surprise
  • 24% said attending meetings
  • 23% responded with "creating design specs" as one of their main activities
Word cloud to answers of question - what do designers do?

What are your top 3 goals at work?

  • 31% said something along the lines of "to create, simple usable designs that help our users reach their goals"
  • There were no clear patterns across other answers, which included things like improving representation in the company, doing more user research, and career progression

I want our users to be able to complete their tasks, using our product, in the quickest, easiest and most intuitive manner.

Help my team to better understand user needs

What are the challenges you face when trying to reach those goals?

  • 34% said a lack of time or resources was their biggest challenge
  • Convincing stakeholders and a lack of planning, process, and priorities were also popular responses, with ~23% of responses mentioning challenges along those lines

What type of designers responded?

Before asking the above questions, I tried to gather some information about which types of designers were answering. Here's who took part:

Which type of designer are you?

Pie chart showing designer types who answered survey

As we can see, a large percent of respondents (38.7%) are UX/UI designers, with product designers coming in second place with 14.5%.

How long have you been a designer?

Pie chart showing answers of question - how long have you been a designer

Surprisingly (at least for me), most of the people who responded have been designers for more than 5 years.

What type of company do you work at?

Pie chart showing answers of question - which type of company do you work for?

37.1% of the designers who responded worked at a B2B company, in-house as opposed to an agency.

How many designers work at your company?

Pie chart showing answers of question - how many designers are at your company?

A huge majority of people who responded work at companies with very few designers (1-5).


There you have it. If you're a designer who curious about what other designers do, you're interested in hiring designers, or you're just interested in the industry, this should have given you some insight into what designers across roles actually spend their time on and care about.

If you have any feedback, want to share more about what you do at work, or just want to chat, I'd love to hear from you. Just email me [email protected] or get in touch on Twitter.


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