The variety of roles that creates a project
Although UX is fundamental to the origination and completion of a design project, many roles are equally required to adequately meet the needs of a project. In my current role, most projects facilitate a structure like the one outlined above, with sub-teams of Product, UX, Writing, Research, and Development. An important consultant within this structure (usually housed within Research) is the Accessibility team. The UX Manager (my role) oversees the UX designer’s work, but also consults toward all aspects of the project.
The UX Manager oversees the work of UX Designers who are engaged on many different project teams. Therefore, knowledge of the products and projects that are being developed within each team is essential to understand the work that’s being created. At the same time this occurs, the manager must provide a great deal of guidance to the designers who report to him or her, by way of mentoring, promoting universal design standards, and setting goals.
But he or she is also an innovator, and needs to promote new investigations, opportunities, and recognize places where UX thought leadership will bring about positive change. This is where a manager can make the most difference in the right setting: A solid team will help everyone recognize these opportunities for each other through consistent information sharing. This keeps the manager informed, and also allows team members to explore their own leadership skills in scouting out the places for improved UX design.
My approach to managing teams follows the idea that sharing back and forth is necessary for growth, transparency, and a solid knowledge base. Particularly in an organization that wants to unify under a style language, it’s important for contributors to feel that they are part of that language, but also know that they’re supported when they have concerns and questions. Often the team will rally to support those who need steering or deeper understanding about why we make the design choices we make. I encourage contributors to spend about as much time working within their project teams as they do working as a collective unit of designers together. This way, they are never designing in a vacuum or without the support of other UX designers who want to share challenges and successes.