UIEtips: On UX Leadership

Jared Spool

October 25th, 2011

The field of user experience has grown incredibly over the past decade. It is really quite refreshing to see the number of companies who are starting to view user experience as an essential part of their business strategy. Design skills are in high demand. It is a great time to be a UX professional.

But something is still missing. Though we are making progress and laying groundwork in large organizations, many UX teams still struggle with getting the necessary time and resources to do their jobs as effectively as possible. To continue growing our profession in both influence and in number of good designers, we need to find a sense of leadership.

In today’s UIEtips, we’re reprinting a fabulous UX Magazine article by one of our favorite people, Kim Goodwin. The difference between management and leadership is a great one. Kim believes that UX leadership should contain things such as mentoring and providing vision. Leadership itself is a skill that should be grown along with UX expertise.

Read the article, On UX Leadership.

In addition to her full-day workshop at User Interface 16, Kim will be giving a 90-minute talk, Experience Leadership. Kim will explore how we develop a broad view of what a UX leader is and how we develop both practice leadership and change leadership skills. Join us for UI16, November 7-9 in Boston. You won’t want to miss it!

3 Responses to “UIEtips: On UX Leadership”

  1. AJ Says:

    This article was very timely given a recent conversation I had with a person I mentor. She is struggling to get started in the UX field because she does not have a formal background in the space. As Kim said, “demand for designers is outpacing supply” and “we not only need to educate the next generation of UX professionals, we need to make more designers any way we can”. How can we do this if every UX job requires 5-7 of related experience? I understand that with limited budgets and census for employees we have to make the post out of every position, but if its hard to find good UX people, take a greenhorn and train them.

    Training not only helps them becoming familiar with the facets of UX, it also makes us better practitioners.

  2. Jared Spool Says:

    AJ, I think you have a great point.

    Right now, all those job ads with “requires 5-7 years of experience” aren’t getting filled.

    However, most organizations (especially those just starting to build their design groups) struggle with taking on a junior person because they don’t have the resources or expertise to give them the guidance they would require.

    We need to come up with a way to help organizations mentor and train new talent to the field.

  3. Phillip Hunter Says:

    Since we know that getting experience before you have the job has always been tough and that’s magnified these days because companies are focused on hiring people who can hit the ground running, maybe we need to look at ways outside corporate structures.

    Spinning off from the idea that doing pro bono or low cost design for non-profits is a good way for independents to keep current and sharp, what if experienced and junior designers paired up to do pro bono work for schools and non-profits? This way the junior person not only gets real-world practice, but does so under the all-important guiding hand. Which also means the non-profit gets quality design, which is more fair for them.

    Working on a couple of projects in that fashion won’t get junior designers to 5 – 7 years, but it will get them a solid start. And they’ll be better off from being mentored in design technique as well as customer interaction, which might make taking a risk on someone with 1 – 3 years experience more palatable to corporations.

    Maybe this is something to pitch to IAI or IxDA to do in conjunction with an org such as http://www.taprootfoundation.org.

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