As UX designer, even if you are working at a large company with dozens of other designers, you often find yourself as the only designer on a project. It’s a lot of responsibility advocating for users, fighting for time and resources for research, and pushing for beautiful UI details with engineers and product folks that may have little to no experience with design and research methods. How do you create great product experiences when you are, to use the title of Leah Buley’s book, a UX Team of One? For Buley who joined us to discuss the book on April 8th in Mozilla’s San Francisco office it’s about involving people in the process and acting as a facilitator within the team.
The book is divided into theory and practice. The first two chapters of the book are geared towards newbies with little to no training but who desire to move into user experience or apply some of the disciplines’ methods to their work. Since I’ve been in the UX field for some years I skipped to the practice chapters where Buley describes activities and deliverables for planning, research, design and evaluation. What differentiates her book from others is that she sets up each method or deliverable as a group activity. The activities are lightweight and practical, perfect for involving non-designer types that maybe skeptical or time-crunched. One of the hard lessons I learned from transitioning from graduate school to being a designer in industry is that, while in an academic setting rigor is paramount, in the professionally world you can alienate your team if you are too rigid. You need to meet people where they are and be flexible.
For me reading the book was well-timed. I’m starting a new project with a new team. After months of being heads down on features I had forgotten some of the basics of kicking off new work. Starting this week I’ll be using activities like the Opportunity Workshop, Storyboarding and 2 x 2 Prioritization for our product workweek.
If you have anecdotes from working as a team of one I’d love to read about your experiences in the comments. For more information on the book club you can join our Facebook group or follow us on Twitter @uxbookclubsf.