Over the last 15 years, I’ve had a recurring conversation with senior UX professionals: “I want to progress in UX, but I’m not sure I really want to manage teams.” It seems to many that the one way up is the management track—and in many organizations, this is the only upward path for UX professionals.
In my long and varied career working on staff within companies and for clients in agencies and consultancies, I have seen many roles in User Experience that need a senior, mature person—some with people-management responsibilities; others that continue to focus on product design. These roles include the following:
UX Project Lead
Each of these UX professionals plays a specific role within an organization. For senior UX professionals, their quandary is to work out which role is required when and what role suits them best. Read More
When something’s level regularly becomes higher, then lower in any particular situation, it has an ebb and flow. There are multiple examples of such ebbs and flows in life. I remember, when growing up, my sister had a poster on her wall of a kitten hanging from a tree branch with these printed words: “Hang in there, baby,” shown in Figure 1. This metaphor has appeared in the arts many times: Frank Sinatra performed a song called “Ebb Tide,” the first episode of Season 2 of The Wire was titled “Ebb Tide,” and Ken Griffen’s “Ebb Tide” provided background music for Season 5 of Mad Men. In business, a company’s stock price reflects the daily ebb and flow of the company’s business performance. Read More
Setting up a UX practice inside any organization—whether small or large—can be a challenge. As a UX leader, to ensure you keep the highest-performing individual contributors on your team, you should make sure they have a clear understanding of what they must do to expand their careers within your organization. While leaders often have a clear growth path inside a company, it is often less clear how individual contributors can nurture their professional career.
For example, in some companies, the only way to advance from an interaction designer, visual designer, UX researcher, or other individual-contributor discipline is to become a manager. But, for individual contributors whose talents are less as people managers and more as superstars in their discipline, who love what they’re doing, and who want to continue to be the best at what they do, their way forward is unclear. Read More