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Due to the discussion I need to rephrase this. (I put the old content as a quote.) My question is about a good setup of people with a strong focus on UX experts. Those could be UX Architects, UX Designer or any other profession with a major focus on UX.

  1. UEA (User Experience Architect) has the lead
  2. UEA, Designer and Creative Developer as equals with no supervision
  3. UEA, Designer and Creative Developer as equals supervised by...

    • UEA
    • Designer
    • Business guy
    • Coder
    • Depends on business/industry
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Unfortunately, These titles arent that helpful for me to answer. Questions like experience, personality, seniority, smarts, manager-potential, etc all play into the team structure. I do believe that you need to empower the UX function to be at minimum, equals with the people coding. –  Glen Lipka Apr 27 '11 at 22:21
    
What do you mean with "empower"? You are saying it will be hard to reach the level of coders? But maybe I just got your message wrong. The setup I proposed is a creative prototype factory for core ideas. UX: makes it fun and usable. Design: makes it pretty and appealing. Code: makes it run and fast. Doesn't mean that a coder can't talk design and vice versa. –  erikrojo Apr 27 '11 at 22:29
    
In most orgs, there are more coders thsn designers. Its important that the UX voice is not drowned out by the other voices in the room. My title is UX Designer...your titles are inherently confusing me. I think restating the question in a clearer way would help. –  Glen Lipka Apr 27 '11 at 23:12
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closed as primarily opinion-based by ChrisF, rk., 3nafish, JonW Nov 13 '13 at 6:56

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Where I work we're a team of:

  • UEA (Job title: "Head of UX", me)
  • Graphic designers
  • Front-end developers

Backend coding is done by a different division and all our platforms have their own Product Managers, Project Managers and Managing Directors. The UX team is attached to Business Development - this gives us quite a lot of freedom and independence from Business and Marketing.

Most of usability testing is done externally (no experts in house).

Hope that helps, Phil

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So you work more with other UXers than with designers and developers? –  erikrojo Apr 28 '11 at 9:53
    
Ehm, not sure if I get your question... we're a team of one UEA, two frontend developers and two graphic designers. –  Phil Apr 28 '11 at 10:33
    
Ah. Cool. Now I got it. –  erikrojo Apr 28 '11 at 11:37
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This is how it is done at my place of work.

  1. Business guy/gal creates initiatives to drive revenue.
  2. A Manager of that area takes lead to meet that initiative.
  3. Then designers, UX, and coders meet with the manager to be briefed and to plan the project.
  4. The project is worked on and completed, approved by the manager and then finally OK'd by the business guy/gal.
  5. Project goes "live"

Does that help answer your question?

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Thanks for your insight. Seems like you work with the triplet I described. –  erikrojo Apr 28 '11 at 9:51
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The key is to cover roles. Whether the roles are separate individuals, or a small group of talented generalists doesn't matter.

Where UX fails is when UX is designed with one of those roles missing. If the team is missing someone with presentation layer code skills, odds are the design will not necessarily be practical to build. If the team is missing someone with a background in accessibility, odds are the design may not meet basic accessibility standards. Etc.

As far as hierarchy of the team, I find the best teams don't care about it and collaboarate. The best UX design processes I have been a part of have typically been in war-room settings where a group of people brainstorm, sketch, and walk through wireframes doing heuristic evaluations as a group. The group was usually made up of the following roles:

  • business line representative
  • visual designer
  • presentation layer developer
  • software representative (the DBA, or the tech lead of the programming team)
  • user tester/accessibility role
  • business analyst
  • info architect
  • competitive research/industry trends analyst

Whenever I've been on a UX project where there were major road bumps, it was due to one of those roles missing from the initial brainstorming phases.

As for titles, well, that's an issue with our particular industry. I've found titles like 'experience designer' or 'information designer' and the like rarely have the same job description from organization to organization.

And, finally, my stock answer to this type of question: It's better to have a small group of talented, experienced generalists rather than a larger team of experts, but missing one or more of the above roles.

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I like your last paragraph. Generalists vs. Experts. –  erikrojo Apr 28 '11 at 9:52
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