7 IT specialties you need for great UX design
To realize the full strategic value of user experience (UX) within your IT organization, you need to do more than hire a few UX designers and encourage them to consult with IT developers on occasion. You need fully integrated and committed multidisciplinary teams that incorporate seven different categories of skills.
Here are the specific talents you'll want, but it's important to also note that broad-based skills and awareness among individual contributors is extremely helpful. Individuals who have concentrated expertise in two or three of the critical disciplines are highly desirable.
1. UX designers
UX designers are primarily focused on how an application behaves and how well it enables users to accomplish a task or achieve a particular goal. Because any given problem—say, a new workflow application to speed invoice processing—may not have a single right answer, UX designers collaborate with other disciplines, such as product management and development, to explore many different approaches to solving it. The overall responsibility of a UX designer is to ensure the logical flow of user actions within an application.
2. UX researchers
Skills in UX research are key to helping the application team validate the solution your organization is building. Your team must answer the question, “Are we building the right features?”
Everyone on your team must champion users’ needs. However, some members must also develop the skills to interview, observe, and interact directly with your target audience. Your team needs to answer two important questions for any given development effort: Who are our users? And what problem does our application solve for them? Research should be a continuous, iterative effort throughout the course of a project.
3. Information architects
The information architect takes the work of the UX researcher and UX designer to build site architectures, wireframes and functional specification documentation for applications, providing a framework for the tactical execution of UX design.
4. Visual designers
A visual designer focuses on crafting the visual language for your applications. Visual language is a key element of your organization’s brand and reflects the elements that make your application appealing to end users.
5. Front-end development engineers
Regardless of whether your UX team is responsible for delivering production-ready code, it needs to have the technical skills to build interactive prototypes and proofs of concept, and to understand different technologies to deliver the best user experience. Partnering with your development counterparts will increase the collaboration process and your ability to iterate and validate the application with your end-users.
6. Accessibility designers
It’s essential that accessibility requirements are not an afterthought, but instead are built into the design and development framework from day one. Delivering accessible applications is not only a sign of good corporate responsibility—it’s also a way to protect your organization against legal action. Accessibility specialists should have domain knowledge about regulations such as Section 508 standards, web accessibility standards, and assistive technology tools.
7. UX strategists
The UX strategy role is comparable to that of the enterprise architect. UX strategists facilitate the conversation between different areas of the organization, working at the enterprise level to tackle problems that impact multiple applications and/or business units, often without the constraint of being tied to a particular feature or application release date.
The goal: Generalists who can specialize
Depending on the size of your team and the scope of your budget, you will derive the most benefit by including people with a broad set of skills and strengths in a few particular areas.
You don’t have to hire specialists to fill each of these roles. You can meet the cross-disciplinary needs of your team with generalists who can do several things well. For example, designers who can do research, developers who understand design, and visual designers who can define the detailed interactions of the application experience.
As long as your team incorporates the appropriate skills and works effectively in collaboration with product managers, business units, and developers, you’ll be on the path to deliver a solid user experience.