Having creative ability and talent is great, but wielding a strong point of view is more significant. Furthermore, having multiple perspectives creates an active dialog in your team, which is critical when designing compelling online experiences.
The one-way discourse, the lone agenda, or a culture where the loudest wins— goes nowhere. Where a monarchy or oligarchy might suffice once production begins, at the genesis of a project a difference of opinion is essential in propelling an unsophisticated idea into a breakthrough concept.
UX (user experience) design has a lot going for it these days. Demand is growing for people with the right skills and ability to conceive and plan robust interactive moments — individuals who can envision whole customer-centered experiences as well as verbally and visually inspire a client in the early stages of a project. However, in today's multi-channel complexity, there are too many angles to consider for only one person’s opinion to move things forward. Solutions these days involve too much specialty knowledge (real web development knowledge, data analysis, visual design, usability standards, an understanding of the customer buying mindset, a sensitivity to operational nuances, interactive writing versus email writing versus promotional writing…*sigh*). And, it’s not enough to rely on others’ best practices. Too many standards are being challenged and debunked every day as technology and user behavior rapidly evolves.
The new must-have for any brilliant UX design team is perspective.
Perspective gives you the ability to debate. Design without a strong intent goes nowhere. It assumes too much. Many may get lucky, but that’s no way to run a business. Creatives love to think instinctively, it’s a virtue of being creative. However, too many times the most creative thinkers follow instinct without challenge. A team with multiple, fierce opinions will naturally weed out the impulsive design decisions.
A culture that values debate will generate stronger thinkers. When you argue for your opinion it makes your stance stronger. Remember it’s not whether you are right or wrong, the more you are forced to champion your ideas the stronger they will become. If your team is able to thrash out the merits of an idea, they will collectively be better enabled to sell that idea. Having an active dialog simulates active thinking, which in turn produces innovative thinking.When pulling together or expanding your UX team, it’s important to consider the group dynamic. Be careful to not skew your team too much into one way of thinking. Are there too many purists in the room? Do they all have the same design sensibilities? Or, do you have a bunch of gunslingers, willing to blast away at any new trend or interactive trick? When recruiting, consider this first: what someone may lack in skills or experience can be made up for in the ability to competently debate and fight for a strong opinion.
Creatives are notorious for sheltering their feelings — especially interactive designers. If it is vital to nurture a culture for healthy debate, why not start from the beginning? During the interview process, find ways to draw out those with the hidden ability to argue their philosophies, creative approaches, or pet peeves.
You may say most agencies haven’t the luxury to build a team around such a lofty requirement due to budget, recruitment, or talent pool limitations. Regardless, we will witness in the coming years that those shops that build perspective into their team mix will see more success with their clients and will be better equipped to bring the smartest and most reliable experiences to their clients’ customers.
Up next: The Pit Bull, the Sniper and the Huggy Bear… which types of personalities work best for a healthy design debate?