Many junior designers & aspirants that I have interacted with, have asked me ‘what do you do in office?’ or ‘What is a typical day in the life of a UX designer?’ The answer varies a lot from person to person. For someone who is a lonely designer in a start-up, he might be doing ten other things that someone who works as a UX designer in a team of 10 people, won’t be doing. So, depends upon who you are asking.
Someone who works in a start-up as the only designer, most probably goes through this —
If you ask someone who’s in a start-up as the only designer, that person might be responsible for a lot more than just screen designs. He might also be working on marketing designs, social media campaigns, side by side working on the screens of the website/app and also interacting with the engineers etc. He interacts with everyone, from engineering department to quality analysis people, to sales and marketing department, and even the CEO and CTO who sit next to the team and work along with everyone else. He also gives ideas to scale the product and add new features.
Someone who works in a big company and a well-defined design team, most probably goes through this —
As someone who is working in a team of 10 people, that person might be working only on one page of a website/app since months, because in a design team, everyone has to be aligned with each other. If your company is following Agile methodology, you might even get the freedom to choose the story you want to work on (a story is a section or a module. Design can be divided into sections, like — Ben will work on chat-window, Alice can take up the messages section and John can re-design the new sidebar). Now this designer, doesn’t even get to see the engineering department, and he is only concerned with his own small design team, as well as the product manager who assigns him work and asks him for daily progress report.
He interacts with other designers when he’s stuck somewhere. His ideas may or may not be valuable, because they rarely reach the higher management! But he is free to express his thoughts to the product manager, who might decide to implement those ideas after discussing with the higher management — but again, he might not get approval for those ideas, because in big companies, it’s really important that things are completed within a stipulated time frame. There is a lot of to-and-fro that happens in big companies, something that doesn’t happen in small start-ups.