Amlan Sarkar

Becoming a Full-Stack Unicorn Designer - Should You or Should You Not?

What do we mean by the term 'Full-Stack Unicorn Designer'?

UX Design involves several layers or stacks of operation. A successful UX designer has to go through all these different layers of operation and excel in it as well. All these segments of operation require different types of knowledge and skillsets. As such, it is a common practice to employ different persons for these different stacks of UX design. However, as the saying goes ‘exception is the rule’, there are many examples of exception in this aspect as well. A person who brings a multidisciplinary approach armed with multiple skillsets to perform all the different stacks of a UX design single-handedly is called a full-stack unicorn designer. However, there are several pros and cons to the concept of a single person’s involvement in all the stages of operation of a UX design. Let us first delve deep into the different operational stages of a UX design before discussing the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a full-stack unicorn designer.

The different stacks of a Unicorn Designer

The different operational segments of UX design starts with extensive user research and interviews. The next step is the making of wireframes and prototypes. All these three functions lie at the bottom of an imaginary unicorn horn and are viewed as the fundamental stages of a UX design. Upon completion of these operations, we proceed to the next stack of UX design.

The second stack of UX design is the UI design or the User Interface design. UI design is all about working hands-on in respect of visual and graphic design. The visual and graphic design is liable to make the user interface user friendly and easy to navigate. UI design also involves suitable use of colours and typography to make the user interface aesthetically attractive to its users.

The third stack involves prototype, animation, and human-machine interaction. The fourth stack is the front-end development, a totally technology-driven field consisting of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Advantages & Disadvantages of being a Full-Stack Designer

A full-stack unicorn designer has to master the required skill set to perform the operational aspects of all these four stacks. A Jack of all trades and Master of none won’t be of much help as the job needs specialization in all the aforesaid stacks, which is rather rare and difficult. However, in this era of startups and consumer-oriented products, a lean and thin workforce augurs well for the economy and prosperity of an organization eager to get a fair share of the highly competitive market. By this logic, a well-equipped unicorn designer will be much in demand due to his capability to understand the whole concept of UX design and the holistic approach he brings with him towards the targeted goal. His comprehensive understanding and knowledge will, in turn, help small startups sustain on the face of stiff competition from the other startups as well as the already established organizations.

On the flip side, it is highly unlikely that a unicorn designer will be able to acquire the highly specialized skill sets of all the stacks with equal competence. There may be some major weaknesses in some fields or the other, which will be detrimental for the organization he is working for. With the fast pace of technological development taking place in the world every other day, it is rather difficult to keep track of all these developments when your hands are full with too much to look after. This phenomenon is particularly applicable for the unicorn designers. Again a herculean effort is needed to do justice to all the different segments of a particular work. In doing so, it is very difficult to manage your time judiciously. At the end of the day, you will lag behind trying to do all the necessary user research, design, and usability testing single-handedly.


From the above account, it can be summarized that though there are a few disadvantages to being a full-stack unicorn designer, being one will still add great value to a workforce. Unicorn designers have in-depth, comprehensive knowledge of the total process from the beginning to the end. Hence, these persons are of great help in any stage of making a UX design. With their comprehensive knowledge, they will be able to view the project with a holistic approach and suggest suitable remedial measures to tide over any difficulty arising at any stage of a project. One noteworthy point is full-stack unicorn designers are best suited as freelancers. They need to stay abreast with all the latest developments in all stacks of UX design. With their overall knowledge and multiple skill sets, they can definitely become the obvious choice of an organization whenever it decides to outsource their work.