Creating a UX department within a company


#1

Hey Everyone,

I am starting my 4th year at my job and have recently been given approval (after forming and presenting my proposal) to move from a Customer Success manager to a User Experience researcher. I have been asked to (1) write my own job description, (2) develop a career path with the titles and job descriptions that I can grow into, (3) build out the company philosophy and best practices for UX research.

This is super excited and a great opportunity, but I am finding myself overwhelmed by the task. Most of the information I am reading about pertains to large companies that have at least an Insights department of some kind. I have total buy-in from stake holders to work on this.

Some context - We are a hardware and software company with about 30 people (5 developers and one UI designer). I have worked on a lot of projects (out of the box experience, user tests, interviews, ect) with our UI designer.

Has here has experienced building a UX department from the ground up?

Any thoughts in general?

Thanks!
Sam


#2

What an amazing opportunity @sam_alaimo – congratulations!

Let me pull some people into this topic to give you some support.


#3

What an incredibly privileged position to be in! Well done for your initiative and courage. Your stakeholders sound like great people to work with too.

There may be a couple of things you can glean from this article: http://uxmastery.com/how-to-apply-ux-in-an-organisation-new-to-user-centred-design/

It seems like you’re in a natural position for this with your background and the business’ general customer focus—bridging customer success with the product teams will be a great support. But it’s still a massive task, so pace yourself (and others) and grow into the learning with a mixture of planning and flexibility.


#4

Emphasis above is mine, and for good reason.

I’m in a very similar place as I’m the first UX professional my company has hired. While UX has been something of a priority, bringing me onto the team has brought greater focus and improvement as our team grows our software and business.

Pacing yourself is tremendously important in this case. It’s one thing to have plans and to spot potential areas for improvement, but it can be tremendously frustrating not being able to get everything done (or even started).

Know that change is going to take time. Develop a UX process, discuss it with your management team, and get everyone’s understanding and buy-in. By ensuring you have a well-defined process and expectations, you’ll be able to help your development teams (and yourself) build a culture of UX-focused design and thinking.


#5

Any links or tips on developing these processes?


#6

Great position to be in, Sam - congratulations.

I’m not an expert in setting up teams, but have been involved a few times.

I’d echo Luke & Doug’s comment about pacing. But perhaps extend it a bit to pacing the rate at which the team grows. For example, I’m working on a 4-year government project at present, and was the only UX person initially. It was tempting to go out and hire additional people straight away (and we had budget) but it made more sense for me to spend the time understanding the depth of the project, and looking around at the same time for the right people to add. The extra time gives you the ability to have a really solid look at what gaps you need to fill, and only to hire people you really love. We now have 4 UX’ers in all, and I have to say that just a little bit of patience has given us the most amazing team.

Someone who has thought about this much more than I have is Sarah Bloomer. I interviewed her for UXpod a few years back - I think it’s worth a read or listen as she has some great insights: http://uxpod.com/ux-teams-an-interview-with-sarah-bloomer/

Good luck!


#7

@sam_alaimo I’d spend some time writing down what your ideal process would be, and discussing it with your business partners. From there, you’ll probably get some feedback as to how you might be able to optimize your process. Give it one more whirl, and present again to make sure that everyone understands your goals and the “why” behind what you’re doing. When I was going through this process, I included some “Core Principles” to help define my goals.

To give you an idea of what this document looked like for me, I’ve attached it here below. Be aware that my document was tailored to my skills and my company’s needs. These steps may not work for everyone, but I hope they’re a good first step.




#8

Wow! thanks so much!


#9

How are you going with it @sam_alaimo – have you made any progress?