Archives for the ‘Hiring’ Category

The Right Stuff: What’s in YOUR Portfolio?

Presented at Tech Jobs LA at Blankspaces, July 21, 2012 The growth of the Web and proliferation of mobile devices has created a huge opportunity for people who can design the look and behavior of digital products. This work spans single-person-single-device interactions through experiences that include multiple people, devices and locations. User Experience Designer (UXD), […]

Where the designers are

People often ask me “Where can I find a designer to work with me?” Most of the good matches I’ve seen have been made through referrals and introductions. If you know designers, or people who work with them, ask them if they know anyone who can help you. Check your LinkedIn connections for designers and […]

Why do we have a shortage of designers?

The creation of digital products is a cross-disciplinary activity that involves groups of people. A successful interaction designer has deep skills in some areas and a general understanding of the entire process. Interaction design is a profession that requires good people skills and facilitation experience. It’s difficult to gain this sort of breadth without the experience that comes over time, working on a variety of projects. People who focus on the craft of interaction design as a career require time and practice to develop mastery of the techniques. This process can be improved by regular exposure to more experienced practitioners who can provide advice and support.

Sometimes the way design jobs are structured aren’t attractive to senior designers. When interaction design work is broken into research, construction and usability, it’s more difficult to have an impact on the product because each individuals’ work is structured as a series of handoffs, rather than as an overall objective for a collaborative team. Some of my most skilled IxD colleagues have accepted positions as product managers, to have more of impact on the whole product, having felt marginalized by the design related roles available on the team.

How do we grow the next generation of UX talent?

How can we create work that’s appropriate for a new interaction designer as they gain the full compliment of skills? I’ve observed that there’s often a mismatch between academic programs and the demands of employment in the field. As an employer of interaction designers, I’ve had difficulty finding people who have a work-ready skill set right out of school. Most often, it takes a couple years working in a professional environment before someone picks up the necessary combination of design thinking skills, tools use, collaboration and facilitation skills, client interaction and project management, and general knowledge of how the business world works. When evaluating an applicant, I want to see their process and approach as well as finished work. Most junior level jobs only expose someone to pieces of a project, and don’t provide opportunities to experience the end-to-end process of finding insight, creating a concept, constructing a prototype or other artifact and validating that with actual users. It’s even less common that someone’s had that chance to do that work as part of a collaborative balanced team.

What if we could treat apprenticeship as a form of entrepreneurial exercise? The apprentice creates a portfolio piece that follows an idea from research and concept identification to visualization and validation. With that as a basis, we’d just have to figure out how to extend that individual practice into an ability to participate as a part of cross-functional team. Ideally, we could create cross-functional teams and mentor THEM, but would that still be considered apprenticeship, or an incubator?