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
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
“Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject.”—Thomas Mann
As a young product designer, I worked hard to perfect my craft. I read widely, studied the work of the masters, and challenged myself. But I was also fortunate: My managers in those early years were good mentors. They gave me projects that would test me, as well as the autonomy to work, learn, and mess things up a bit. They looked out for me—assigning projects that were suitable for my skill level and helping me to avoid any serious mistakes. However, whenever I asked them what I needed to do to move up to the next level, they’d give me answers, but not a detailed career roadmap. What I was lacking was a comprehensive overview of the specific skills and objectives that would be necessary for me to make progress in the professional world of User Experience.
Although I was mastering the design skillset, I soon realized that this was not sufficient to take me where I ultimately wanted to go. Mastery of craft is simply not enough. It is also important to master the work context so we can design effectively within a product-development organization, as depicted in Figure 1. Read More