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Another way of putting this question is: How friendly is a UX career to a person that has a hard time allowing multiple "cooks" in the creation of a design?

Is it not really a problem, because UX designs are often invented and driven by a single person, and only in smaller details (and feedback of course!) are others required?

I am NOT saying that the design would not be tested, and the client and users would not be asked for feedback. I am just saying that, once that feedback and external opinion had been collected, it would go right back to that one single "control freak" designer to adjust accordingly.

Would that "my way or the highway" tendency be a deal-breaker?

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I know I wouldn't want to work with you. –  user7026 Aug 3 '11 at 7:12
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4 Answers

Generally speaking, "my way or the highway" in most corporate environments is not particularly welcome. That said, I think it really depends on the company, the structure of your team, and what the UX designer's role truly is. In some shops, the graphic design is the UX designer (and sometimes they're even qualified to be!), so that balance is pretty easy. If your UX designer and your graphic designer are different people, you may run into a little more trouble - but again, it depends on what you're considering "the design". In my mind, from a UX perspective, I can dictate nearly all of the UX of the product and then turn it over to the designers to make it "pretty". In that scenario, I have done 100% of the (UX) design, and they will then do the graphical design. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't, depending on the designer I'm working with. But if they take liberties that affect the UX, I explain why their modification looks nice but might create some confusion in the UX, and I generally get my way. The attitude of the management in your shop will have a lot to do with how much weight UX versus how pretty something is gets. Some places won't care as much about UX, as long as it looks shiny, so you're going to have a much tougher time being a benevolent dictator in those types of places.

In general, if you're banging your head against a graphic designer's work too often, educating them is a better way than flexing your authority. If a designer is working on an interactive product, they are (hopefully) on the same page with respect to delivering a quality product that people love to use. Most of the friction I run into with graphic designers comes from ignorance, not obstinance.

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+1 Well said $minimum-character-string$ –  Phil Jun 19 '11 at 21:44
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"Generally speaking, "my way or the highway" in most corporate environments is not particularly welcome." --> unless you are the boss. In which case it's the norm. ;) –  DA01 Jun 20 '11 at 1:15
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It would be a deal breaker for creating a succesful UX team. But no all UX gigs require or have the budget for full teams. So it all depends on the environment you end up working in.

Even if you are the UX team, though, being a control freak will be counter productive unless you are a very well experience generalist. There's just so many aspects to a good UX: the visual design, the interaction design, the content, the interface layer, the back end layer, user testing, business requirements, customer requirements, usability requirements, legal requirements, etc. It all has to work together and getting it to work together is usually a smoother process when there is collaboration amongst the team.

On UX teams where we've ran into big problems it was usually due to one of the UX members being really good at one aspect of UX (such as IA) and then taking the design and running with it all by themselves. As they wouldn't necessarily have any visual design experience, they'd conceive of things that didn't work for our visual designers. Because they didn't necessarily have front end development skills, they'd often design antiquated interactions or interactions that simply didn't work anywhere other than paper. That is what you want to avoid.

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Take it from me, if you're sure another stakeholder is getting it wrong you have to fight your corner. How you fight it is up to you but being able to fall back on solid research is a good starting point. If you can't do this, because your opinion is a little more subjective or fuzzy, offer to run intermediate tests with users. If this fails, put your foot down or cover your back with emails or documentation explicitly detailing your concerns.

I have learned the hard way: a client wanted x, I wanted y. X made no sense to me whatsoever so strongly recommended y but client managed to get x produced. Users hated it so much and I got some flack which I did not appreciate.

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A successful experience, user interface, profitable business, simplified process, easily used product or whatever you are deigning is far more than the sum of any one field of expertise.

In almost 13 years I don't think that I can honestly say that I was or anyone else I have work with be that UI, UX, IA, IxD, Graphic Designer, Frontend/backend developer, project manager, client, owner or anyone else involved in what I've been part of can say they were solely responsible for the success of a service.

I have worked with people who's outlook was 'my way or the highway' and to be honest it disrupted the team so much that the final products suffered greatly because of it. With experience you learn to avoid these people and don't want to be associated with them as they are quickly caught out when asked probing questions as they don't have the experience or knowledge to explain or sell the reasoning behind their solutions. A lot is plagiarised from elsewhere as those with this characteristic tend to be relatively new to the field <5 years commercial experience.

This industry is built on collaboration and to be part of truly great things you need to be prepared to take both positive and negative comment and criticism by the bucket load. Not being defensive and being able to take the time to explain your decisions to those unfamiliar with the field you specialise in is vital. Often our experience and backgrounds means unchecked we miss the subtleties and realities or everyday use of the things we design.

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