At the decade milestone of UX at Covenant Eyes, the team was in need of a reset. Expectations had changed over the years. Policies, ceremonies, roles, and responsibilities had been driven by multiple perspectives, experiences, and people. Many voices have influenced and molded UX. At the core of this is the question: “What does it mean to be a UX professional at Covenant Eyes?” It’s for these reasons that I wrote Building UX: A Handbook for UX Development & Career Growth. I wanted to inspire UX practitioners. I wanted clear expectations on how to practice, grow and thrive in the field of UX. I wanted the UX team to understand their role within an organization and with each other. I also wanted this book to help Covenant Eyes to better understand the value of UX and its potential when boundaries are removed, and impediments are addressed.
After going through this process I am convinced Design Directors should do this for their teams. It provides clarity, stability and guidance that I have not found elsewhere.
- Design Leadership
- Content Strategy
- Layout Design
- Visual Design
What’s in the book?
Building UX: A Handbook for UX Development & Career Growth is built on the thoughts, standards and works of experts within the UX Design industry. Without their insights and publications, this book would not exist. The ideas and perspectives of people like Edward Tufte, Jakob Nielsen, Don Norman, Jesse James Garret, Jared Spool, Peter Morville, Massimo Vignelli and so many others have heavily contributed to this book. Many sections borrow heavily from their works. I want to make this clear: Building UX brings together frameworks, ideas, and lessons from various experts, myself included. The contents of this internal book are not 100% my own.
This section is heavily inspired by the works of Peter Morvile and Massimo Vignelli. It’s really about laying the foundation for what is means to be a UX designer or researcher. From a high level, it focusing on Defining Design, Fostering Design and Practicing Design. Vignelli’s Intangibles, AIGA’s Design Grid, and UXPA’s Code of Ethics are all included in this section.
In Design Disciplines I touch on the 8 core disciplines that make up UX Design; Research, Writing, Service Design, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Information Design, User Interface Design, and Visual Design.
I go through every discipline and define what it is, how to get started in it and how to grow in that discipline. Furthermore, I use Jesse James Garret’s Elements of UX to show where each discipline lands on that continuum.
This section again pulls inspiration from Peter Merholz and Kristin Skinner. It goes through the Human Skills and Leadership Skills, their definitions and at which Level you need to have them. The definitions are my own but the framework was adapted from Org Design for Design Orgs.
The goal here to to go into detail on what other skills are needed to be a UX professional. Each team member should have clear expectations after reading these.
Career Growth starts with understanding how to quantify growth universally. This section introduces frameworks to understand what it looks like to master disciplines, how to select which disciplines to focus on growing and how that maps to each Career Level. I essentially have Career Growth broken up into 3 parts; measurements, levels and career paths.
I provide a 5-level mastery scale that starts with “Adequate” and ends with “Mastery”. This framework explains to designers how long it will take to achieve various levels, what it looks like and also the background to pursuing multiple skills.
This is an adaptation of a framework originally create by Peter Merholz. It still retains the 5 levels but I’ve modified it for use with my own team. With each Level I highlight Accomplishments, Design Disciplines, Human Skills, Leadership Skills, etc.
Career Path has Skills Path which shows requirements of various position groups; Product Designer, UX Designer, Design Researcher, etc. As well as The Career Map which is a map of a person’s potential career.
Skills Paths highlight the specific Disciplines recommended for various roles on the UX at each level. Researchers and Designers share in the number of Disciplines and Mastery at each level, yet the specific Disciplines vary. These are to be used as guides for a UX practitioner’s career. Emphasis on certain Disciplines can fluctuate.
The Career Map is a visual representation of a UX professional’s career options and potential over the duration of their career. It’s divided up into 4 lands — Land of Learners, Land of Masters, Land of Player-Coaches and Land of Natural Leaders.
This exercise was overall helpful for me as I worked through what things my team needed in order to excel. It forced me to think through what I needed to do in order to support them. Furthermore, the end result provides a guide for them, our team and organization, while serving as a foundation to build upon.