Product Design – How to fit a ux designer in your team


If you think the hard part in the UX designer hiring process is to identify the ideal candidate, at the end of this article you will change your mind. The hard part comes when the team and the new resource have to talk to each other and be integrated to work together.

Whether we speak of a software development company, an e-commerce platform or a web agency, the arrival of a UX designer in the business environment represents a change. This has to be managed carefully to allow the team to quickly blend and the designer to become operational as soon as possible.

Against this backdrop, we can imagine two types of scenarios:

  1. the new resource will be part of a team where there is one or more ux designers
    In this case it is important to identify from the very outset the different experiences and basic technical skills. One has to assume that each designer has, in his/her culture, a design notion of his/her own. In the first months of operation, it is therefore crucial to engage him/her in the meetings of all ongoing projects and those concerning the programming of future projects. On the team side, it is also pivotal to integrate the new resource as soon as possible in the implementation phases of small tasks. It is important to promote and encourage her/his participation in moments of brainstorming where her/his point of view, new and free from legacies, could bring an added value. The team will have to promote the digestibility of the amount of information that the new designers will receive during the first months in the company. This has a serious impact on the speed and effectiveness of the integration of new resource in the workflow. The same goes for the indoctrination of production methods and processes. The ux designer should also be assisted in understanding the internal dynamics with suitable tools. i.e. by building an intranet page with the map of the nomenclature used in the company, or instructions on how to perform management tasks (eg. demand for new software). All this assuming that for her/him a lot of information might not make any sense.
  2. the new UX girl/guy will be part of a team where there isn’t any UX resource
    In this scenario, the designer task is mainly focused on the general understanding of business objectives (short and long term ones), production dynamics (who does what) and what tools the team uses to produce. The UX designer will have to identify and classify all design phases. For each of these phases, he/she will have to be able to anticipate how and when to take action to integrate the production processes with the UX design methodologies. Most likely, he/she will face cultural diversity and have to find the right way to communicate the UX approach to the actors involved. The UX designer will need to enter and integrate tools and processes that probably are not present in the company, for example usability testing and new reference grids to evaluate the performance of solutions and products.

Based on my experience in different contexts and types of business, I can say that the process of integrating a designer is a very sensitive task. It goes far beyond the filings of the technical operational activities. In some cases, the critical points relate to the different language used to describe same requests and problems. In some others, a preparatory preventive activity by the company (eg. The necessary software and hardware) is required to enable the designer to integrate quickly and effectively. The designer might even be faced with the need to dip into a whole different world, as he/she will be forced to modify and adapt his/her operational routines (e.g. Agile vs Waterfall processes).

To get solid results it is essential to be open and to have a flexible approach by all the actors involved in the process (product owners, developers, business analysts, etc). I know there is no such a thing as a magic wand to ensure an easy and painless introduction with a high level of performance. Much of the result will be about the quality of communication and everyone’s readiness to change and adapt.

Every change involves a risk. This is a fact. However, without any change, evolution is limited or non-existent at all.

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