A brief survival guide to being a ‘UX team of one’

In this week’s #UXchat, we’re discussing the life of the lonesome UXer.

While everyone else in your organisation is happily part of a larger team – leaning on each other for support, bouncing ideas off one another, not having to constantly justify why they exist, “oh look the marketing team are going off for another team lunch” – you, the sole voice for UX in your company, is left all alone.

You’re sat there staring out the window, listening to Harry Nilsson and thinking to yourself, “why doesn’t anyone else understand the true value of UX and what user testing could do for our platform, also, I sit at the same table as marketing, why don’t they ever invite me to Wahaca?”

woman drinking coffee and multitasking with two laptops

“I would even buy them a round of margaritas”

But you’re not alone. Well you are in your building, but in the outside world there are hundreds just like you… The sole voice of UX, fighting the user’s corner and constantly thinking of new ways to convince your bosses that it’s high time they put the user experience first and foremost.

We took to our UX community on Twitter to ask their thoughts on the subject, and they came up with some helpful tips on how to survive being a ‘UX team of one’ while coming up with helpful strategies for communicating the value of user testing.

Just in case you’re new to UXChat, here’s a little background to our weekly UX conversation where you can rub virtual shoulders with some of the most knowledgeable ‘UXperts’ on the planet, every Thursday at 4pm.

This week’s conversation was hosted by Page Laubheimer, User Experience Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group, and you’ll find his comments throughout the following discussions…

What are the biggest challenges when you’re a ‘UX team of one’?

According to our lovely, supportive and friendly community – the biggest challenges they face individually involve grasping the steering the wheel of corporate culture out of the hands of traditionalists and heading off in a much more user-focused direction.

Although Luis D Rodriguez has failed to add an actual recreation of the meme to his tweet, which I believe EVERY HUMAN BEING IN THE CONNECTED WORLD has made, the point is that UI design is an attractive distraction, when in reality you should focus on developing something user-focused with the resources you already have.

Or he just thinks UI has nicer hair than UX.

Although we may think of ourselves as consummate multi-taskers, the reality is that too often it all becomes too difficult to manage on our own.

Speaking of which…

What makes your life as a ‘UX team of one’ easier?

Here are some ways that fellow UXers have made their lives easier. A lot of this is about spending time educating people in your company about UX, as Mira Nair mentions below, it may just be an issue of awareness.

For others, there are more practical tips, such as writing every last thing down, building low-fidelity UX prototypes, and doing fast, low-cost user testing in order to achieve some early quick wins that you can build enthusiasm with.

Or alternatively, you could just be lucky (or convincing enough) to gain full control over your project and have free reign to do whatever you need. You renegade maverick.

How do you get buy-in from stakeholders?

How do you get final approval to make improvements? How can you convince your bosses that you need time and resources to do user testing AND follow through with the observations you’ve made?

It’s hard work, but here’s what the UX community recommends… talk in their language (data, money), show them user test videos (make qualitative research both visible and tangible), build a working prototype and remember that you may need to put in the hours and hopefully your patience won’t be the only thing being tested.

Thanks so much for everyone who took part in #UXchat this week. Please follow us and tune into Twitter every Thursday at 4pm for more insightful UX based discussion.

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Main image by Andrew Neel

Christopher Ratcliff
Christopher is the Content Marketing Manager of WhatUsersDo. He’s also the editor of wayward pop culture site Methods Unsound. He used to be the deputy editor of Econsultancy and editor Search Engine Watch.

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