Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Building the dream UX team

“Ignorance is bliss” is an age old adage. It might be true in some situations but taking it for granted could be fatal for the business. I get lot of calls for jobs through consultants and job portals but all of them have one common thing that pinches my soul to the core. The common thing that I am talking about is their ignorance about the job roles in their User Experience (UX) Team.

It is good to see that many new organizations have finally accepted the obvious value of design and usability in software and product development. Four-five years back, UX practitioners had to hard sell the importance of their presence in product life cycle. Only a few far-sighted companies had the vision to sense the value of UX professionals in their teams.

Fortunately the ignorance about UX did not last for very long and more and more organizations embraced UX professionals. The trend did not stop here and soon organization started to boast about their UX design capabilities in their sales pitch and offered it as a distinct service.

Today, most of the organizations want to hire UX professionals without knowing what they are? Therefore, I decided to sit down and write a small blog hoping that it would bring some clarity to the senior executives sitting at the top while making hiring decisions.

Building UX dream team

Building a dream UX team is every organization’s dream but it is easier said than done. Most of the times organizations are unclear about the roles and job responsibilities of the UX team and end up building amateur and shallow team. These organizations look for “All in one role” to cut down cost i.e. a person who has the capabilities of usability expert, graphic designer, and web developer. Such thinking is disastrous and suicidal to the organization and reflects shortsightedness.

A UX dream team in my view would consist of:

  • Information Architect (IA) / User Experience Designer/ Usability Expert (Pick any role based on your organization needs)
  • Graphic / Visual Designers
  • Web Developers

All the above mentioned roles are distinctly different. The usability professional is expert in user data gathering, analysis, synthesis, and design. The visual designer is knowledgeable in interaction design and visual design. The web developer is knowledgeable about the technology. A cross-functional team ensures that people with different perspectives and skills will pay attention to different aspects of the data and the design. They will do whatever they are good at.

More about some of these roles can be read at

It is a good article however it does not paint a holistic picture of the whole team.

The ideal workflow in the UX dream team

Information Architects / User Experience designers do data gathering, analysis, synthesis and redesign or design by creating user need matrix, affinity diagrams, personas, scenarios, task flows, wireframes, wireframe specifications, etc. These deliverables are then passed on to the visual design team.

Visual designers work on visual concepts for the deliverables produced by IA and add cool visual flavor to the interface. They also create visual design specifications of the final concept and incorporate branding.

Web Developers receive design specifications and start developing the prototype. They also create documentation from development perspective.

I have just described a bird’s eye view of the user experience design team. We can get into details if needed by discussing each role and responsibilities pertaining to the role.

In the end….

The important point to understand here is the value of each resource in the team. Let everybody do what they are good at and trained in. By having specialists in the team the quality of work would increase drastically. Instead of forcing one person to take all the roles, organizations should focus on developing a winning UXD team.


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  2. hi..Im college student, thanks for sharing :)