How is your team structured?

25 Sep 2010 - 4:17pm
3 years ago
6 replies
1644 reads
Dorianv
2010

I am dreaming of the perfect division of ia, ux, and visual design in a team. Should we stick to being generalists, and wear all of those hats at once, or should we allocate resources to each role? I am curious to know  how other companies have approached this.

Comments

26 Sep 2010 - 1:48pm
Davin Granroth
2009

I manage a small UX team. The team is young, less than 1 yr since it was formed. My approach is for each team member to train and operate as a generalist. That way we can all back each other up as needed. This has worked well so far.

However, as we continue to mature as a team, I expect to see (and am already seeing) that individuals will demonstrate talents for certain types of work, such as interviewing users or visual design. I intend to see that people with a talent and passion for a certain type of UX work will get to do more of that type of work. We'll still have to be sure to cover all aspects of the job, of course.

If we had a larger UX team then perhaps the story would be different. But for a small team, this approach is working.

26 Sep 2010 - 3:04pm
Dorianv
2010

Thanks for the input Davin! Another question: is your UX team positioned within a marketing department, IT or none of the above (for example in an agency)?

Our team is much the same (generalist), so that we can cover for eachother when necessary.  However, I have also observed that as time goes by, we show more proficiency at one aspect or another, which could lead to more specialization.

I've been reading Designing for the Digital Age, and am intrigued by the model they follow at Cooper. I guess the main deciding factor is resources: you have to stay generalist if you can only have a small team.

30 Sep 2010 - 7:24am
Davin Granroth
2009

From an org chart perspective, we're positioned as a peer to the product development and marketing depts. This allows us some autonomy to make sure that UX can work with various depts of the company. If we were part of product dev, we might not have the opportunity to work with marketing when they need it, and vice versa.

But if you were to walk into the office, you'd see UX people embedded right in there with product dev people. We sit in the same workspace and operate within the agile product dev method along with developers and QA. On a weekly basis we also work with marketing, specifically on the company's website and other special projects.

6 Oct 2010 - 10:05am
eliannaj
2010

The UI/UX people at my company, EBSCO Publishing, which is over 1000+ employees, are in the Product Management dept. Plus we use a couple of outside contractors for UI work as needed.   There is a direct line of report to upper management and not as much official lateral contact as one would hope.   Given that, individual UI people will ping anyone and everyone who might give fuller input to the process. "Leave no voice unheard" might be their motto. The end result is pretty good in terms of usability and general design.

elianna james
'I break websites'

eliannaj@yahoo.com
303-494-2285 (home) 720-425-1001 (cell)

--- On Thu, 9/30/10, Davin Granroth <granroth@gmail.com> wrote:


From: Davin Granroth <granroth@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [IxDA] How is your team structured?
To: eliannaj@yahoo.com
Date: Thursday, September 30, 2010, 10:18 AM

From an org chart perspective, we're positioned as a peer to the product development and marketing depts. This allows us some autonomy to make sure that UX can work with various depts of the company. If we were part of product dev, we might not have the opportunity to work with marketing when they need it, and vice versa.

But if you were to walk into the office, you'd see UX people embedded right in there with product dev people. We sit in the same workspace and operate within the agile product dev method along with developers and QA. On a weekly basis we also work with marketing, specifically on the company's website and other special projects.

27 Sep 2010 - 5:05pm
Jeff Wright
2009

I don't know if a team of generalists is the right way to go, personally. To me, that approach puts a lot of pressure on individuals to be really good at a lot of things, or the resulting product is going to suffer from them only being "pretty good".

Instead, we've had success with a cross-functional UX team where there is tight collaboration between two visual designers, two usability testers, one researcher, one IA, and a content specialist for technical documentation and on-screen writing. It's a really good mix, with overlaps in just the right places. The core of our approach is that UX is very much a cross-functional discipline, and while we COULD get swiss army knives, we're better off building a collaborative team.

We serve four development teams using Agile, working a little bit ahead, and we can partner the right people up with stakeholders and others to facilitate the design needs, testing needs, content needs, etc. specific to that element of the project.

Jeff

On Sep 25, 2010, at 5:31 PM, Dorianv wrote:

> I am dreaming of the perfect division of ia, ux, and visual design in a team. Should we stick to being generalists, and wear all of those hats at once, or should we allocate resources to each role? I am curious to know how other companies have approached this. > >

27 Sep 2010 - 6:42pm
muppetaphrodite
2009

First off, I work at a large company working on a massive piece of PC software for IT pros, so YMMV (especially in a Web context).

Our division approaches iX and UX as entirely different disciplines, which can lead to difficulty when trying to collaborate (we're reporting through two different management chains). Our UX group is about 30 FTEs split between Research and Design, and we're assigned to products in pairs or triplets (one research, 1-2 design). We handle IA as a part of our natural product work, but there has been some cross-product IA research too. FWIW I love the designer/researcher distinction though it seemed anathema at first - and our UX pool approach has been helpful in giving us leverage and respect across the division.

Meanwhile, IX assigns a few content specialists and editors to each product, but because we're in IT software they are mostly consumed with writing and updating the massive amount of documentation that goes with the product. In the end, UX is pretty much on its own WRT onscreen text, with priority given to aiding us with terminology decisions.

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