Being the sole UX designer in a business represents a number of challenges. If you are in this situation, I recommend getting some advice to make sure you do the best work possible.
Sole user experience designers often work with people who do not believe in nor understand user experience (UX) design. UX is about putting customers first, which means incorporating customer feedback in the workflow. Your colleagues may not realise the fantastic benefits of this approach. For them, it might be just another burden to getting work done. From my experience, it is important to stick your guns, otherwise you’ll create sub-optimal work.
Leah Buley has long been a sole user experience designer, until she joined the award-winning agency Adaptive Path in San Franscisco. Here I summarise her advice (screenshots from a 20-minute video presentation):
1. Truly listen to customers (face-to-face)
Identity what does matter (to customers): i.e. what task is really key to customer? this is key in prioritising design elements.
The key is to keep doing user research:
Write down your assumptions about your visitors, then observe users in their natural environment. Take photos, bring proof of what you’re observing. For instance, for a software used by administrative assistants, try and spend a few hours with one, in her office (or wherever she’s using the software). As part of the research, ask users to map out their experience.
2. Invite colleagues in the process. For instance, by pinning screenshots on the wall and ask colleagues to assess the screen (using bad/good post-its).
Do a UX questionnaire to assess the situation and find supporters. Questions: who is the team? what are the customers’ goals? What is our strategy? What is the team’s goal? Success metrics? etc…
3. Make things together
UX is a highly iterative process. Iteration is best done with others (be it another designer or a stakeholder), so one can bounce ideas off each other and produce a variety of ideas.
4. Recognise good enough
Identify sections of your website and decide how good you want it to become. Then assess how good it is against the benchmark. For instance: I want to the shopping cart pages to be as good as [name of benchmark shopping cart pages]. Give a rating to each section against their benchmark.
Do quick & dirty testing of your design: validating with users will help you create superior UX.
To find out more, I recommend the following:
“The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide” by Leah Buley (on Amazon)
Undercover User Experience Design (book’s website) by
A 20-minute video from Leah Buley on being a UX team of one:
A 1h+ video from Leah on her book: