3

My context/problem:

I've worked in few organizations as a freelance UX consultant (researcher, analyst, coach, designer)... and I had always huge problems to make others in the company feel empathy towards users and their: problems, needs and aims. I had always the feeling that it is not my role to explain to the whole company that their website is not for themselves but for their users/clients. Why? Because i'm not the owner, i'm not Ceo, nor employed in the organization. I had to argue with marketing, with CFO about how this new UCD will make their business strategy more efficient and PM that we schould schedule the deadline, because it is worth doint it (if there was too less time to do some user test before implementation) So, i felt always soo much responsibility for whole company and its product, but it was realy hard to cope with the hierarhy inside the company. My ideas, solutions where used only in about 30%. That is why I didn't want to get employed in any company, because I have no Idea in witch place in the organizational structure I should be, to make some pro-user changes in 100%.

What is important: I'm from Poland and UX is still unknown to many people, but it is now some kind of vogue for having a UX in your e-bisnes.

Here are my questions:

1.Where is UX designer (who is making also research/workshops/ etc) in organizational structure? ( The best solution is to be a boss, but you can't:)

2.Should UX designer spread the UX as an ideaology ( AND HOW? ) or just take it as his work station somewhere in the company?

3.What problems of this kind have you had in your career? And how have you dealt with them?

  • This is an extremely broad topic, but is an interesting one. When you talk to executives about the business value of UX, how do you approach it? Do you give them formal presentation? Or is it anecdotal evidence? What kind of evidence do you provide? How do build enough confidence in them so they entrust you to do things you feel are good for the organization? If things don't go as planned, how do you let them mitigate the risk? – Jung Lee Oct 21 '15 at 0:34
  • The basic rule about 'corporate initiatives' - If it supported by someone on the board, preferably as a 'target', then people will take notice and things will happen. If it isn't, you are wasting your time. – PhillipW Oct 23 '15 at 8:05
1

I agree to almost everything Dan1111 wrote down.

Being a UX Architect - so I am separated from visual design - I see that more and more people get caught by the buzz word "Usability" or "UX". The impact of this is, that they expect a UX person to "bring the best usability, to make it perform".

While this is - from monetizing perspective - is a nice thing to do, it ultimately goes AGAINST what UX is at its core: Testing. So yes, there are a lot of best practice that can be applied, but, ultimately, even the (industry) best practice has to evolve to fit my product best - to make the difference.

This being said, I more and more drew back from evangelizing "include a progress indicator in the checkout!" and more became an evangelist in the process: Learn, Build, Measure, Iterate. I found that transporting the idea of "how to improve" got stuck to my 'audience' better. People are able to participate more, they learn to prove their assumptions. The collaboration in creating usability testing roadmaps is better, for me at least.

Every time, when we start a new project, I keep saying: "I can tell you how I would start from best practice, but we have to find out what is best for our product, in the end.".

5

A few points:

  • The feeling of not being listened to is not unique to UX. This is the common experience of many people who work in larger organizations. There seems to be a feeling among the UX community that this is a generally undervalued area. This is partly because this is a newer discipline, and culture changes are always hard. However, I would take the fact than an organization wants to hire a UX expert as a positive. And frankly, if your advice is taken 30% of the time, that doesn't sound bad to me. Many corporate employees would love to be listened to 30% of the time.
  • UX is one of several concerns a company has to balance, not the only concern. Besides the needs of users, there are many other things that must influence the final product, such as technical limitations, marketing requirements, development effort, and so on. This means:
    • The UX rationale will not always be decisive.
    • The boss needs to be someone who balances all of these different requirements, rather than focused solely on UX. (Of course a UX person can be the boss if they are successful enough. But if you get there you will suddenly realize you have a lot more to care about than UX).
  • The desire to educate about the importance of UX is great. This means you are motivated and care about what you do. Not only should you want this, a company should want employees like this. However, you need to be strategic about how you do this if you want your ideas to be listened to.
    • Aim for incremental change, not transforming the company culture overnight. If the current project can be slightly more UX focused than the last one, that is a win.
    • Focus on making a positive contribution. Don't emphasize how the way the company does things is "all wrong". This will isolate you and make you irrelevant. Instead, focus on the positive of what UX practices can add.
    • Learn from others. You don't have the answers. You aren't always right. You should be able to learn a lot from others at the company, as well as teaching them. And you definitely need to learn about what other people view as the requirements of the products and why they do things a certain way. That way you can focus your UX contributions towards meeting the goals of others. In other words, instead of saying "you need to care about different things!" you want to be able so say "here is how UX achieves the goal you care about."
  • Ultimately, the proof is in the results. What will really change people's minds is when they see that your UX contribution resulted in a superior product. So focus on doing your job well in the areas of responsibility you are given (even if limited). Excellent work speaks for itself.
4

My perspective:

1.Where is UX designer (who is making also research/workshops/ etc) in organizational structure? ( The best solution is to be a boss, but you can't:)

I have never run into an UX person who became a boss, in my career, but there were many boss-people who were claiming to be a "big UX enthusiasts", and boy what a nightmare that was — all micromanagement without basic understanding of the core principles.

If I end up being a CEO/VP of Product, as much as I care for UX, UX won't be one of my biggest issues, I will have enough of other things to put first. Such as business strategy and running the team, for example.

So a good place for an UX designer is where I usually see it — as a part of a frontend team, or part of a big UX team, or part of the Product Management. All three options have their advantages & disadvantages, and I think it's up to personality where one would feel best. I, for one, love working with frontend. Working with PM while being even a Senior UX is no fun for me, as even junior PMs get to make more decisions (that are often silly).

2.Should UX designer spread the UX as an ideaology ( AND HOW? ) or just take it as his work station somewhere in the company?

Yes and no. First, I found it's best to land on a role in a company where people already understand that UX is a big deal and see their problems. That won't save one from all the battles and all the communication, but at least one will not have to explain what they do and why the team needs their participation.

But even in this case, there will be a need to propagate and evangelize.

It's our job to know why and how UX works, for other people for historical reasons it's mostly invisible, redundant or magic, so unless we explain, nobody will know or care. Unless we advocate for users, nobody will, or they would want to, but they wouldn't know how. And it's a good skill to know how to sell things and explain them. It adds to your social capital and helps you grow career-wise.

So how do you evangelize UX — first, don't evangelize it to people who do not care. Second, don't be too emotional about it. Otherwise, the situation will tell you how to do it — do your user research and build a communication channel :-)

3.What problems of this kind have you had in your career? And how have you dealt with them?

I already listed some. Few more common pitfalls: companies that don't understand what UX is, from top to the bottom (top is more important, but it's the bottom you will work with everyday); miseducated & micromanaging bosses/managers; being a single UX specialist in a very big company or a very big team; being crunched up by badly built task planning; toxic management; shadow management; oldschool corporations that are stuck in 50s; fratboy culture; non-articulate product owner who can't explain what they want and set requirements; having to prove every single decision; everybody tries to do design and meddle with your work; data-driven UX (every decision is made by experiments, none by educated opinions); design by committee (too many people are trying to set requirements, and results are not cohesive); being pushed to do adjacent work like UI design or Data Vis when you are not ready for it and don't see it as a part of your job (I do but that's just me).

2

I agreee with @dan1111, but wanted to add something on the question "where" UX is located in the company.

I've worked in a distributed model, where the designer is part of the product line organization.

Good:

  • You're part of the team, included in meetings, etc.
  • You stay with the product long-term, multiple releases, build trust and relationships

Bad:

  • You're part of the team, which expects loyalty to the team (i.e., compromises in design to meet the deadline)
  • There's likely no central authority to keep all the distributed designers in sync. You work alone.
  • There's no systematic career development for you; your immediate manager might not know much about UX education and careers

I've also worked in a central organisation, where the design department is either completely separate from development, or part of the development division.

Good:

  • You're not part of the team, resulting in different assignments. If done well, it allows to focus UX on projects which are ready to accept it (in terms of the people's openness as well as project priorities).
  • As a central, separate group you have the luxury of a different opinion. You can run quality gates, and refuse to approve a product's UX.
  • It's much easier to align on UX topics, and to build a UX community. You're not alone.

Bad:

  • You're not part of the development team (e.g., "team of ten"), have to ask for invitations or scour calendars for meetings
  • When discussions get heated, it's easy to split along "us" and "them", which does neither improve the product nor your relation (thereby harming further collaboration).

From my experience, I have no clear preference. It might be best to switch after a few years (which companies obviously do sometimes), to get the complementary benefits for a while.

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