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
This is my first column on the management of UX. In my column, I’ll articulate what I’ve learned from my experience as a senior leader and several years in intensive senior leadership development programs.
Have you ever known a manager you felt shouldn’t manage people? Maybe you’ve worked for one. Most of us have at one point or another. On the other hand, most of us have also had great managers. What sets great managers apart from bad ones? That’s one of the questions I’ll explore in this article.
Almost weekly, I talk with a UX designer or researcher who wants to become a manager of a UX team. For some people, this is a good choice. Both they and their teams thrive. But for many, it’s honestly not the right goal, and the end result is that neither they nor their teams are happy. The book Now, Discover Your Strengths  suggests that we tend to be good at the things we love doing, and we love activities at which we excel. I find that we do our best work when we’re in a playground. (I’ll explore this idea more in my next column.) Isn’t life too short to pursue a path we don’t enjoy? 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