Many companies establish their own internal UX departments, which often also includes UI designers, Usability Experts and Front End Developers.
Alas, an internal department is inherently subjected to office dynamic, politics, and conventional wisdom. In-house staff does tend to understand the product and its value more deeply, but also, at times, is content with the status quo. In those situations, it’s critical for companies to help their internal teams rediscover the joy of creation, employ the latest capabilities and methods, deliver quality products, and work efficiently.
But that’s easier said than done.
Or is it?
Start with variety
One of the issues internal teams face is lack of variety in their day-to-day. Teams work long hours, weeks, and months on one product. This creates a great flow and chemistry, but also a certain dynamic (read: groupthink) that’s hard to break free from. Office hierarchy and politics also affects feedback and decision-making, which people are naturally resistant to challenge.
The solution lies in variety.
Allow your team to work on different facets of the product, or the business, and definitely with various people. If they’re working on features, have then plan a cross-platform concept. If they’re doing usability, have them explore new user journeys, and so on.
But variety should be applied everywhere: send the team to an art show, have standup meetings standing up, or maybe just ask them to present an interesting project they’ve seen from someone oversees.
Don’t Forget Enrichment
Everyone understands and acknowledges the importance of professional enrichment, but not everyone knows how to choose the right enrichment programs – or know the areas they need to improve on.
Good news is, we have the Internet at our disposal, where we can find everything from UX Beginners’ tips to detailed explanations for complex systems.
Enrichment can also revolve around learning new technical tools or honing advance skills. Improving the team’s UX methodologies knowledge, product creation processes, prototyping, and even crash courses on SCRUM, Agile etc.
It’s always good to read about Sourcing: The ins and outs but it’s also recommended to hear about it, like at a conference or a talk, where your staff can hear firsthand about other UX people’s challenges and success stories.
Don’t Shortchange the Craft
Things change rapidly when it comes to hardware, and software is never far behind. But with every change, one thing stays consistent: a quality work tool saves time, eliminates obstacles and maximizes every concept’s potential. And, of course, improves the end product tremendously.
This is why ensuring your team has proper tools and software is worth every penny.
That said, make sure you promote a culture of learning, and enable your team members to adopt new practices seamlessly. Every new tool might require an adjustment period, but the ROI is unquestionable when work comes out better, faster. Lastly, many tools rely on plugins that were purposefully built to improve functionality and flow. Be on the lookout for updates, read reviews and prepare to examine their efficiency, as a good plugin can be quite the #lifechanger for designers.
Enable Creative Thinking
How do you encourage a culture of creativity? Just remember one simple rule: Creatives love to create. So they need….
- Someone who might be harsh on the work, but absolutely believes in their talent.
- Someone who understands innovation is a process and, more often than not, first round ideas suck. Positive feedback, especially in early stages, is critical.
- Someone who wants to review case studies from around the world, to inspire the team while allowing individuals to share their unique POV on the industry.
- Someone who pushes them out of their comfort zone with new projects, new environments, and new tools.
Outside Help = Fresh Perspectives
If your team is isolated, they’re at risk of straying a bit too far from new thinking and current best practices. Companies who still rely on experienced freelance UX designers can develop their own team in the process, and set them up for future success.
It’s important to remember that the most professional, “freshest” talent is still found in design firms and dedicated UX agencies. They’re the ones who tackle various assignments for various clients, and are typically also on the cutting edge of technology and tools. They operate within a competitive environment, which brings the best out of them. You can only gain from listening to, and learning from, them.
If everyone in your company understands other people’s roles and challenges, you’ll find unexpected solutions in surprising places. If your UX team understands developers’ needs, the end users of your product will benefit. Messaging will be better if sales, strategy and marketing are on the same page etc. Exposing various parts of your organization to their peers will improve production and feedback, and will lead to better products. It’s also important to expose the team and their work to senior management and decision makers, so the latter can better understand the value of your UX team, their meaning to the success of the company, and how to best utilize it.
Now, let’s make some magic happen.