Are you the only UX designer at your company?
Have you been hired or work as the only UX designer or product designer? If you are the only UX designer it’s your responsibility to instil user-centric methodologies, set up processes, fight for user values, and become a design leader.
I have been in your shoes, and I wanted to share as much about what I have learned and the best way to get company-wide buy-in, promote a culture of feedback and drive change in your role.
Become a design leader for your organisation and represent the user
Everyone is an experience designer
As the only UX designer, it’s your job to make everyone at your company an experience designer, they have contact with customers daily, are experts in their area of the business and have thoughts on how to improve the user experience of the products and services. Here are some practical ways to encourage feedback and to start to discuss the power of a user-centric approach.
Customer intelligence meetings
Set up regular meetings to go over findings you have made, results of surveys and usability tests and customer research. Invite members from each team to share customer and user comments and feedback that they have been receiving. For example at my company, we have customer two separate customer service teams they often have good insights into the current thoughts of new releases business direction and feedback. They are often very tunnel-visioned in their side of the business so its also beneficial for them to get views of different users bases that interact with them.
- Set up fortnightly catch ups
- Send out a review email of findings as a follow up to the meeting
- Encourage feedback themes
Learn it lunches
Set up learn it lunches once a month. These are 15-20 minute presentations to whoever wants to give up some time over their lunch. Get different teams members to do different themes start off with one on the benefits a user-centric approach, how companies like Uber and Airbnb have made it their core values and how much revenue its created.
- Set up monthly learn it lunches
- Present benefits of user centric approach
- Show and tell of work and how that will increase KPIs
Grow a culture of feedback from all departments
Sit with different teams within your company
Set up regular sessions to sit in with different teams within the organisation. Listen in on phone calls and gather as much feedback as you can. Not only does this get you good feedback, it also raises awareness from team members and encouraging them to pass on findings.
Set up chats for feedback (Teams / Slack)
Set up chat channels and invite all team members from customer service teams and other teams that you feel will have insights or benefit from hearing findings.
Hold workshops with members of all departments and encourage a culture of idea sharing and co-creation.
Ideas for workshops
- Brainstorm sessions https://www.designkit.org/methods/brainstorm-rules
- Role play https://www.designkit.org/methods/role-play
- Hold co-creation sessions https://www.designkit.org/methods/co-creation-session
Beers and ideas
Hold a monthly beers and ideas session make it fun and use it as a chance to promote user research and discuss findings and show how other companies are succeeding with a user-centric approach.
- Start with a presentation
- Show and tell from departments
- Chance for feedback
Ideas of themes
- Full user journey mapping out everyones touch points
- Create lifetime value how
- Reduce leakage in the systems
Display work around the office
Find a place which gets lots of footfall, and display work in progress and ask for customer findings to be noted on a wall.
- Wall of ideas
- Feedback wall
- Display key user and company stories
Prepare to grow
You may be the only UX designer in your team or company at the moment, however, this might not always be the case. There are processes that you can introduce to run your solo department which will make it run more effectively and get buy-in from key stakeholders with reporting on how design is improving the bottom line for the business.
Design system implementation and management
If your product team hasn’t already implemented a design system yet now is the time to create one. You may be able to manage all the styles/tone of voice at the moment however as soon as the team expands or another member in the product team starts to work on elements of the system it can start to create a disjointed experience. It’s also good practice as it will help unify the brand style and keep your work consistent.
This is a good system to use https://www.invisionapp.com/design-system-manager
Set out different time frames and methods you would like to gather research on. There are two main areas I am always researching on. Future opportunities based on insights to define user story or problem statements. Then the iteration and improvements of upcoming and current releases.
- Set regular dates and subjects you want to conduct surveys for
- You may have a upcoming project be proactive and call some users to gather feedback
- Organise regular usability tests on core funnels and ask intuitive questions. For example, is there anything you would like to see? What would stop you want to use the product again?
Iteration and improvements
- Usability tests on prototypes, new releases and MVPs
- A/B testing on releases
Build up a plan with specific dates and outcomes you would like to achieve. Create reports on results and present too stakeholders. Tie these into KPIs to give incentives and to prove results so you get stakeholder buy-in to fund usability tests.
A useful resource https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/01/ux-research-plan-stakeholders-love/
There may be no budget for more designers or researches within your organisation however this may not always be the case so a good idea is to offer work experience to local universities, not only will this give them valuable experience, but it will also allow you to have a bank of talent that you know first hand when opportunities arrive.
Being the only UX designer can prove to be a lonely place. Go to meet-ups and if you are working on anything interesting that you think others will benefit from then share it and ask to give a presentation. Not only will this benefit everyone else it will raise your profile in the local scene and you can start to build up relationships to share knowledge.
Prove value with KIPs, Scorecards
You will often have devs working on lots of things at once, business objectives that have come down from the board, something a stakeholder has seen and they want to be built into the system. How do you carve out some priorities for something you have noticed that would improve the usability on an area of the product.
Usability needs will always overlap with business needs you just need to define what that is. For example, you may carry out some usability research and notice a comment form, multiple users, around what is missing or they would like to see they are using a particular funnel or area of the product. Looking at business goals you can attribute the improvement a specific KPI, this will not only help the user but also win your battle to get stakeholder buy-in and dev time if you can define a specific increase in a target.
UX Scorecards are a great way to gauge and show the success of designs within the business. Useful resource
How to get stakeholder buy in | Desirability over design
A lot of stakeholders and workers in different departments will look at Product design and UX as just UI design. Encouraging them to look at design as desirability instead allows you to open up the range of inputs you need. Strategy desirability map if you change the mindset from design to creating desirability then you can open up the thinking of the organisation.
4 pillars of desirability.
- Credibility: To drive adoption, what are the things that need to be credible for the user? Trust, price etc
- Impact: To meet a credibility objective, what are the things that must create impact?
- Usability: To meet an impact objective, what are the things that must be usable?
- Detectability: To meet a usability objective, what are the things that must be detectable?
Solve problems and not features
Start every project with a problem statement. You may be asked to design a design a feature from exec or stakeholder feedback, but you can still work backwards to make sure you are fixing a problem.
Define the problem
- What - What is the current situation
- Why - Why is it happening (research to back this up)
- How? - How are we going to fix it
- Support with SWOT pr SOAR analysis
OKRs and objectives from the business can help set problem statements. Try to keep this in line with business goals as well as user goals. Things like retention, life time value.
Meet with the product manager and a lead dev or the developer that will be working on the project and run through prototypes to iterate on. For larger projects that will have a lot more at stake financially then conduct user testing on the prototype.