UX professionals who report to head of development or engineering?


I’m trying to document my thoughts about past experiences working in positions where I reported to the head of development. For me, this was problematic, as I was relegated to a tactical UI design role, and had to fight to get any insight or influence into the upstream, product development part of the process, where user-centered design truly begins.

I am interested in knowing how common of an experience this is among my peers, and whether it’s a worthy topic to write about if it negatively impacts a lot of professionals.


Curious - were you a UX team of one when you reported to the head of development? In a similar situation with me, I reported to the head of product development (slightly different role) as a solo UXer and ran into a lot of the same issues.


We were a team of two. You are actually in an ideal position in the product team (where I currently am) IF you can convert the product manager(s) to the user-centered approach–which is where they should be anyway since they’re designing products (which is shockingly not often where their head is at)–and convince them of the value you add as a user experience professional.


Hey Hollie,
I think it sounds like a super valuable thing to document. There are so many variations of this same kind of issue that you’ll be helping people by sharing your experiences.


I’d love to here more about your experience, @dougcollins.


Thanks! If you know want to know more, I suggest checking out this episdoe of @joenatoli’s “Making UX Work” podcast, where he was kind enough to have me as a guest. We talk about both my everyday work and my back story. Hopefully you find it well worth the time!


@dougcollins, WOW, very cool! I will definitely give it a listen. I’ve taken some of Joe’s classes on Udemy.


In my case is often justifying my work to trade teams which is painful sometimes. I also wanted to ask, do you guys find it more useful to get your designers to design on top of the wireframes you create, or do you think it’s better for them to replicate from a blank canvas?


@doro_mila, please explain what you mean by, “get your designers to design on top of the wireframes.”


Hi, I mean exactly that - apply the design on top of the high fedelity prototype. I’ll explain better. I invested a lot of time trying to find a tool from which we can design, prototype and test all in one place. A huge number of tools could achieve this but neither was perfect. Axsure is great at wireframing and prototyping but not good for for design. XD is good at design but the prototyping is still quite basic.
I thought we could be saving so much time if I could just pass over the final wireframe so that the design could be applied on top rather than starting all from scratch. Besides, if I want to test the same prototype with the design applied I would need to export the design files and prototype again. Using the same file and shaping and editing it as it’s tested multiple times makes a lot more sense to me. However I’m finding that some designers tend to have their preferred tools and making this workflow harder for me.

Hope this makes sense…


@doro_mila These days I use Axure for everything. However, as I’m the prototyper (I assume you mean this to encompass wireframing) AND the designer, this workflow works for me. I hardly work on UIs that require any design tool as powerful as Photoshop or XD. Since our developers use the Material Design library, in which a lot of component design is already done, I’ve just imported a Material library into Axure.

I also occasionally use Sketch, for when I need logos, vectors, or graphics that are a little more complex. I also use it for mobile app prototypes.

When I was working with a designer, I would design medium-fidelity wireframes, again in Axure, and let him use his skill to make it look nice. Of course the designer must take into consideration the functionality that is described in the wireframe, and also the development platform. Input forms look a certain way in Material, for example, so the designer can’t take much creative liberty unless it’s really justified.


@doro_mila, between yourself and the designers, who designs the interaction?


Thanks for sharing your process. Does the designer then turn your medium fedelity prototype into a high fedelity in Axure?


I do the interaction


Yes. Axure or Sketch if it’s just for demonstration purposes, but I’ve never had anyone modify my file directly, so I guess it doesn’t matter what the designer uses, unless visual assets are needed by developers (which is typically the case with custom iconography and mobile development). In that case, then you’ll need a graphics program (i.e. Sketch, Illustrator, PS, etc.).


But in answer to your original question, as both the prototyper and designer, I do almost everything in Axure. I’ve found it to be the powerful tool that bridges that gap, and I’ve tested a lot of different tools before coming to that conclusion.


I’ve researched a number of tools though which I could wireframe, prototype, share. Also I wanted the same program to be used by the designer, for the reasons I mentioned before. XD is a good option and when combined with Protopie can achieve great things. Then discoved Studio. by Invision which does all things I was looking for - brilliant. However the tools is still in beta so a few bugs to overcome.

For some reason I backed off Axure lately. I found that the sharing wasn’t as great as the features offered by Invision.

Do you actually find Axure the best tool?


It’s the best tool I know about. It is a rare tool that provides features for both lo-fi wireframing, and hi-fi designs, because like you, I didn’t want to switch apps within the UX process. I’ve used Invision, which has similar features, but is way more cumbersome and unintuitive, in my experience. I’m not yet familiar with XD, but haven’t had a lot of luck with individual Adobe products by themselves for producing multiple UX deliverables at different stages (Illustrator and Photoshop are for different design purposes and are overkill for typical UX deliverables).

I think what you might be struggling with is the handoff or workflow from yourself to other designers. I don’t know how well Axure handles multiple people working on the same file, though there is Axshare, which is provided with the purchase of the app. It allows others to view your file in the browser, or to log in and download it.

I’m not sure what problem you are trying to solve. Are you hoping to have a high-fidelity design that looks good AND is interactive? What kind of testing are you performing with these documents?


That’s right, my aim is to have a hi-fi working prototype that is as close to the working system as possible. I like to test throughout the process and testing the final design is a big part of it.

My team is composed of developers and graphic designers that don’t necessarily think testing is vital and this is the source of my frustration.

Since my initial post I have written a formilised the UX process for the team, so hopefully this will help overcome the difference in opinions going forward.