How to build a well balanced UX team
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the acronym UX is used more and more these days. While User Experience is not a term that only applies to an app development lifecycle, more often than not we refer to it as such. As the world becomes more aware of “UX” as a keyword, its true meaning gets blurred while hiring managers and recruiters struggle to build a solid team.
Now, not everybody has access to the same resources. When I say “a solid team” I don’t mean to imply that all companies can place a 16 member team (nor they should). What I refer to is a team that is able to consider and put in practice a good process to produce the best results.
Here are the top 5 attributes that I look for when building a UIUX Team:
Every design project starts (or should start) with research. Curious team members are crucial to capturing the details and considerations that kicks off a project. Whether that means creating a product from scratch, adding a feature to a pre-existing product or enhancing the experience on a particular portion of your app, requirements will have to be gathered and audiences will need to be questioned. A curious person looks for the details, reads between the lines, and adds an incredible amount of value to the process.
Businesses often forget, but products are created for its users. User Experience should be 100% focused in finding business solutions that enhance the life of the user (read: human). As such it is imperative that a UX Team can count on at least 1 member that advocates for the user. A person that regularly puts her/himself in the audience’s shoes, truly feels for them, and often leads the rest of the team on a path to understanding.
Pretty much the biggest reason to become a UX Team member is to find clever (or obvious) solutions to big problems. That requires dedication and sometimes a small level of insanity. Passion is a word often used to describe the fire that fuels these engines. But that fire can also be blinding, and can get in the way of success when looking for a solution as a team. In a collaboration environment, you need passionate people that also understand that perspective is an important tool to success. Team members shouldn’t be afraid to listen, discuss, consider, and change their mind when needed.
I’ve met many talented designers and developers that are just afraid to talk about and defend their work. It is heartbreaking when you see what could have potentially been great, tarnished by the ideals of a peer with a stronger personality. Not everyone possesses the skill to be outspoken, to tell the story of how they’ve arrived at the current solution. While it would be unfair to ask that every single person in your team is expressive, you should always have at least 1 member who is able to articulate for the decision made by the team. Hopefully those decisions came after arduous work and an impeccable process as that makes for an easier sell.
Believe it or not I have found that it all comes down to this one. An effective UX Team understands that their goal is to balance good business strategies (💸) with user desires while using design and technology to bridge the two. They are the psychologists, caregivers and surgeons of the digital age!! — OK, maybe not. In any case they will need to communicate with audiences, other teams, investors, executives, and colleagues. Effective teams are able to do this with grace, eloquence, and clarity across all different groups.
I have been building product design teams for a few years now and my advise is to always look for specialists. While a Swiss Army Knife might get you out of a pinch, they are usually not the best knife, screwdriver or toothpick out there. I hope that these attributes will help you shape your team into a well oiled unit that will yield to more measurable success.