Recently, I was talking with someone who told me, “I won’t take on a UX contract if I have all the accountability without the authority.” That’s an awesome position to take. Too many people don’t ask, then take what’s offered and complain forever more.
I’ve also talked with people who secretly – well not so secretly, apparently – don’t think there’s a business or social value the work they’re doing; it’s just work. I believe that they need to get off that project for their own sake and for their teammates. Their perspective will come through and poison the atmosphere.
Aren’t we all tired of team members who make fun of their employer? It strikes me as a terribly sad position to be in.
I have also seen UX professionals go all martyr-hair-shirty when a difficult-to-use feature isn’t fixed – even when, in the grand scheme of things, it provides little benefit to a user, or takes a lot of development effort to fix. They’re missing perspective.
And when I say “them”, I mean “me”, and them. Come on, it’s human.
Sure we all need the money, but there’s more than enough UX work out there. Go find something different and dump the crappy attitude in the trashcan on the way out. Let someone who values that organization do the work.
I’d like to see UX professionals do five things for themselves in 2015:
- Work with companies whose brand and products you believe in, and a culture that works for you. You have options. You have more options than nearly any other profession around. There is more demand for UX professionals than there are qualified people. There is no need to work for the first company that offers you a job. Find a job you want.
- Work with companies that value the practice of user experience, as expressed by a culture that respects its customers, and a Product Management team that does research with real customers throughout the development cycle. No organization is perfect. For your own happiness, pick an environment that is supportive of your work and again, shares your values.
- Understand that there’s a limited budget to meet customer needs — everywhere. Know how to quantify the benefit from improvements to the user experience (more on that to come) so that experience improvements can be prioritized with other capital budget items and the most important ones realized.
- Concentrate on your realm or realms of expertise:
- User testing
- Scenario / user flow design
- Content analysis, requirements, and taxonomies
- Navigation design
- Information architecture
- Interaction design
Just do that really well. Stop trying to determine the whole product and trust your product managers already. If you don’t trust them, work somewhere you can. If it’s really important to you, then work somewhere the whole team is involved in the customer research and its evaluation.
- If you are still unhappy with your role after putting all those necessary pieces in place, take a step back. What is really going on?
- Are you in the right role? Maybe you’re a frustrated product manager, business analyst, project manager, visual designer, or developer.
- Has this become personal? We put a lot of ourselves into our work and sometimes the line blur; we take rejection of an idea or feature design as a personal rejection. At this moment, it is very important to remember that this is about providing what customers want within the company’s budget; it is not about you.
- If you find yourself in this “place” job after job, well then it is about you. Talk to someone about why you continue to put yourself in unhappy situations and how you can stop.
Warm Gun hosted a great seminar by Amy Jackson called Avoid Saying Yes to the Wrong Job. Start there. It takes a lot to make these changes in your life. Believe me, you’re worth it.