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13 Coworkers Who Are Crucial to Your Success as a Designer

Springboard – Medium | Guy Ligertwood

How to ensure a good relationship with your most important colleagues

To become a great UX designer, you need to be working with great people. To get the most out of your colleagues, you need to work well with them.

And to work well with them, you need to understand what they do.

As a UX designer, you could be working in a small, medium, or large business. You could be in an agency, a corporation, a government organization, or a small business. Wherever you end up, you’ll be working with other people.

Below is a list of individuals that you could be working alongside. I’ll explain the role and cover some tips on useful ways to work with them.

The areas I’ll cover:

  • User Experience and Design (4)
  • Engineering / Development (6)
  • Digital Product and Business (2)
  • Data Analytics (1)

→ USER EXPERIENCE AND DESIGN ROLES

UX Designer / Product Designer
UX Researcher
UI Designer
UX Writer / Content Designer

1. UX Designer / Product Designer

“Most business models have focused on self interest instead of user experience” (Tim Cook — Apple CEO)

Definition

User experience design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product (Source: Wikipedia).

The term “Product Designer” is still being defined within the industry. It typically refers to holistically looking at the full product journey, experience, interaction, and visuals to create a great product. The role of a product designer has a significant overlap with the function of a UX designer.

How to Work with UX / Product Designers

As a UX designer, you’re likely to be working with other UX designers. You may collaborate on projects so you’ll need to work together and share ideas.

Tip: Make sure to have diplomacy when critiquing other designers’ work. Everyone takes feedback differently, so gauge their character before you jump in to tell them that their design doesn’t work.

2. UX Researcher

“UX is isn’t UX without research”

Definition

User research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies.

This field of research aims at improving the usability of products by incorporating experimental and observational research methods to guide the design, development, and refinement of a product.

User researchers often work alongside designers, engineers, and programmers in all stages of product creation and idealization (Wikipedia).

How to Work with UX Researchers

UX Designers and UX researchers work as a team. You can do UX without them, but you won’t go as far. If you work hard to make the relationship work, you’ll produce great products.

UX researchers are specialized in their field, often with a background in human factors and or psychology.

If you need to gain insights about a feature/product at any stage in your UX process, you need to talk to your UX researchers. Tap their brains for ideas of how to gain more insights.

To solve the problem, they may advise a survey, usability testing, or a workshop with users. Get involved in what they do, go into the workshop to see how they do it, and ask to go into usability testing sessions.

Learn More

UX Research & Strategy with Design Lab (Study: 4 weeks at 10 hours per week)
Foundation in UX research with Udemy (Study: 1 hour)
Usability testing bootcamp with Udemy (Study: 8.5 hours)

3. UI Designer

“A user interface is like a joke, if you have to explain it it’s not that good”

Definition

User interface design (UI) is the design of user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with the focus on maximizing usability and the user experience.

The goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, regarding accomplishing user goals. (Wikipedia).

How to Work with UI Designers

As a UX designer, you may be doing the UI design work depending on your skills or complexity of the work. If not you may be handing off your detailed wireframes and user journeys to the UI designer. If you have a good style guide, this makes the process much easier.

Regular and clear communication is essential between the UI and UX designer.

Tip: If you’re handing off web and app designs to different UI designers, ensure there is consistency across all platforms.

Learn More

Learn UX and UI Design with Hack design (Study: 50 weeks at 1–2 hours per week)

4. UX Writer / Content Designer

“Words are really important because the graphics don’t make sense sometimes” (John Maeda)

Definition

Kristina Bjoran gives a good description of UX writing: “Based on my research around job descriptions and conversations with real-life UX writers, I’ve determined that at its simplest, UX writing is the act of writing copy for user-facing touch points. This copy must not only embody the voice of the organization, but must also be considerate and useful for the user.”

How to Work with UX Writers / Content Designers

UX writer roles are relatively new. The biggest piece of advice for a UX designer is to bring the UX writer/content designer in as early as possible.

Having “Lorem Ipsum” copy is no longer the preferred method to gain valuable insights for usability testing. Work with the writers to get content into the prototypes so that the copy can be tested with the design.

Copy can lead the design so it shouldn’t be an after-thought in the UX process.

Learn More

What is UX Writing: UX Booth Article by Kristina Bjoran
8 lessons in UX Writing: Medium article by Anjana Menon
Writing for the web with Open 2 Study: 4 weeks at 2–4 hours per week
Mailchimp’s Content Style Guide
Google’s Material Design Style Guide

→ ENGINEERING / DEVELOPER ROLES

iOS Developer
Android Developer
Back End Developer
Frond End Developer
API Developer
(I will group the above together when discussing how to work with them.)

5. iOS Developer

“Controlling complexity is the essence of computer programming” (Brian Kernighan)

Definition

iOS (formerly iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple exclusively for its hardware. It is the operating system that presently powers many of the company’s mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPads. Swift is the programming language Apple created specifically for developing their apps. This is the language of all future development for iOS (Wikipedia).

Learn More

Learn Swift and iOS development with One Month (Study: 4 weeks course with a mentor)
Introduction to iOS development with Pluralsight (Study: 1 hour of videos)

6. Android Developer

“If you ever talk to a great programmer, you’ll find they know their tools like an artist knows their paintbrushes” (Bill Gates)

Definiton

Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google, based on the Linux kernel and designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Java is the programming language that Android developers use to create their applications (Wikipedia).

Learn More

Android basics with Udacity (Study: 2 weeks at 2–3 hour per week)
Intro to Android Development with Pluralsight (Study: 40 minutes of videos)

7. Back-End Developer

“Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.” (Steve Jobs)

Definition

Back-end development is defined by Techopedia as the creation of the logical back-end and core computational logic of a website, software, or information system.

Many back-end developers know front end languages such as HTML and CSS but need to use languages such as Java, PHP, Ruby on Rails, Python, and .Net to get the back end job done. Back-end developers are most focused on a site’s responsiveness, speed and how it works.

Learn More

Intro to back-end with Udacity (Study: 2 weeks at 2–3 hour per week)

8. Front-End Developer

“Whether you want to uncover the secrets of the universe, or you want to pursue a career in the 21st century, basic computer programming is an essential skill to learn.” (Stephen Hawking)

Definition

Front-end development is mostly focused on what some may coin the client side of development. Front-end developers will be engaged in analyzing code, design, and debugging applications along with ensuring a seamless user experience. You manage what people first see in their browser. As a front-end developer you are responsible for the look, feel and ultimately the design of the site.

Front-end languages include HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Utilizing JQuery will also be a common occurrence with front-end development work. These are only a few examples of the types of languages they work with.

Learn More

Introduction to front end development with Udemy (Study: 4.5 hour of video)
Front end development: Get started with Pluralsight (Study: 2 hours of videos)

9. API Developer

“Apis really are the secret sauce that makes things possible.” (Carl Kennedy)

In general terms, an API is a set of clearly defined methods of communication between various software components. A good API makes it easier to develop a computer program by providing all the building blocks, which are then put together by the programmer (Wikipedia).

Learn more online

API’s crash course with Udemy (Study: 2 hours of videos)

How to Work with Developers

You will interact with the above developers at different stages of the product. For example, you work with a back-end developer earlier on in the project to get the functionality done and a front-end developer to get the interface looking and interacting in the way you want.

The more that you communicate with the developers, the better. Ask them what you don’t understand, listen to them in stand up meetings, and get a feel for how they work.

Working with developers is one of the favourite parts of my job. Get up and talk to them face to face to see how your designs are being implemented.

Make sure that they have the most up-to-date designs. Don’t be afraid to mention pixel perfect tweaks with front-end developers but avoid this with the back end team, as they will working on the functionality.

For iOS and Android developers make sure to get familiar with the guidelines that Apple and Google have set up. The more you work with these guidelines, the better. Using out-of-the box elements where possible avoids creating too many custom elements on the apps which can take time and may be unfamiliar to the user.

Learn More

Intro programming nano degree with Udacity (this’ll give you broad learning of what the developers are doing).
iOS design guidelines (Apple)
Material Design guidelines (Android)

10.Quality Assurance Engineer(QA)

“Quality is everyone’s responsibility” (Deming Edwards)

Definition

Software quality assurance (SQA) consists of a means of monitoring the software engineering processes and methods used to ensure quality (Wikipedia).

In developing products and services, quality assurance is any systematic process of checking to see whether a product or service being developed is meeting specified requirements. Many companies have a separate department devoted to quality assurance (Tech Target).

Learn More

Software Quality Assurance with Udemy (Study: 5.5 hours of video)

How to work with QAs

To make sure that the interaction of your website or apps is working well QA engineers are essential to delivering a great product to your users. To get the most out of quality assurance, make sure they know how you want the product to interact with the user, what it should look like and what copy is on each screen.

QA engineers can be the last person to make sure all platforms are consistent and working as they should.

→ ANALYTICS ROLES

Data Analytics

11.Data Analytics

“Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.”

Definition

Data analytics refers to qualitative and quantitative techniques and processes used to enhance productivity and business gain. Data is extracted and categorized to identify and analyze behavioral data and patterns, and techniques vary according to organisztional requirements. Data analytics is also known as data analysis (Techopedia).

Learn More:

Data analytics for business with Springboard (60 hours of work over 12 weeks)
Learn Analytics with Google Analytics Academy
Three Uses for Analytics in User-Experience Practice (Nielson Norma Group)

How to work with Data Analysts

Working with data analytics helps UX designers make informed decisions about designs. You want to find out how parts of your product are being used.

The Nielson Norman Group summarizes three high level areas where analytics can help UX.

  • Issue indication: Notifying the team of potential problems reaching goals
  • Investigation: Identifying potential causes of issues
  • Triangulation: Adding data to supplement qualitative research

Adding analytics to the UX process enables designers to:

  • Take early action
  • Quickly prove/disprove hypotheses
  • Better persuade stakeholders

→ BUSINESS ROLES

Product Manager
Delivery Lead

12. Product Manager

“A great product manager has the brain of an engineer, the heart of a designer, and the speech of a diplomat.” (Deep Nishar)

Definition

The product manager is the person responsible for defining the ‘why’, ‘what,’ and ‘when’ of the product that the engineering team will build. They are the CEO of their product — which means they lead cross-functional teams from a product’s conception through to its launch (Aha.io).

A product manager communicates product vision from the highest levels of executive leadership to development and implementation teams. The product manager investigates, selects, and drives the development of products for an organisation (Wikipedia).

A product manager helps to guide a team in discovering and developing the right product for users.

Learn More

Product Management 101 with Udemy (Study: 2 hours videos)
Introduction to software product management with Coursera (Study: 2 weeks at 1–2 hours per week)
Productplan.com article: 4 key responsibilities of outstanding product managers

How to Work with Product Managers

As a UX designer, it is crucial to get on with your product manager. A good relationship keeps the water calm when designing a product. A good product manager will make it clear what the business wants and will work with you to get the best results.

To work well with them, it’s important that you keep the product manager in the loop with your designs. I have always found it very helpful to show early work to product managers. At this stage, they can steer you back on track or let your carry on.

If you are being asked to create designs for something, the product manager has the context of why the business is doing it. This background can be beneficial when you don’t agree with the product or feature.

Tip: Make sure that any research that comes out of testing, workshops or surveys etc is fed back to the product manager. This feedback helps the product manager get the context of why the designs are taking a particular direction.

13. Delivery Lead

Delivery Leads contribute to the productivity of the teams and have a huge role in defining and shaping products, in collaboration with clients, designers and developers.

The result is happy project teams, software delivered on time and budget, with no surprises, and the greatest possible value achieved for the resources that were spent (Atomic Object).

Learn More

Atomic Object Article: The delivery lead: A new type of maker

How to Work with Delivery Leads

Delivery leads are champions of delivery. This is obvious but important. Remember the context of where they’re coming from. They want to get the product/feature shipped on time with all the requirements ticked off.

Tip: As a UX designer, it’s important that you work with the product manager before the deliver leads. It’ll normally be the UX lead’s role to focus on the delivery side of things.

Springboard is an online school that will help you master UX design through mentor-led courses. If you liked this piece, you’ll probably also like our Intro to UX Design workshop which starts October 30.

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13 Coworkers Who Are Crucial to Your Success as a Designer was originally published in Springboard on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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