Peter Merholz joins Funsize to unpack the myth of the "User Experience Designer," and along the way we try to figure out on whom the responsibilities of optimizing a product's User Experience should fall. Later, Peter flips the script to find out how Funsize manages their strategic impact as a consultancy with client partners.
Rick is back from paternity leave. His new son is awesome.
Joining us on this episode is the Senior Director of Design at Jawbone, friend of Funsize, and a hugely inspirational designer, Mr. Peter Merholz.
Anthony chronicles Peter's background with the international consulting firm, Adaptive Path, which is perhaps best known for championing "User Experience."
Fun Peter Merholz facts: Peter hired Funsize while at Groupon and was Funsize's first client. Thanks, Peter! He also coined the term 'blog'.
Fun fact about the new Up4 from Jawbone is that it can do NFC payments!
The theme for this episode was conceived following Peter's blog post "There's no such thing as UX design."
Don Norman, credited with the coining the term User Experience in the early 90s, created the User Experience Architect's office at Apple.
Initially, Adaptive Path considered themselves a user experience consultancy because no one else was talking about user experience at the time. The term "design" was an avoided term because designers were not involved in product strategy, often reduced to pixel pushers and production workers.
User experience is an outcome, not a practice." - Peter Merholz. There are many contributing factors to good or bad user experience, but design is only one part of the whole.
User experience designers were actually interaction designers, information architects, or other designers cloaking themselves with the phrase because it sounded good.
Picking apart the concept of the "User Experience Designer." A litmus test for the viability of the "User Experience Designer" career path: How would one grow as a UX designer? What's that path or evolution look like?
The thing that we call "User Experience design" may fit in two buckets: 1) Product Management & 2) Design Execution.
A historic lapse in balanced Product Management may have generated "User Experience Design."
Product designers began to create a set of user research & persona development practices in order to ensure product strategy would not forget to acknowledge the user.
Strategically-minded designers can lead products as well as strategically-minded engineers or business persons.
If we do call "User Experience Designer" a profession, it would be best compared to a film director.
Anyone who tells you they've figured out how the formula for the perfect product team is lying to you.
Peter eventually left consulting because he found the relationship they had with clients wasn't leveraging his agency enough impact on final products. Peter effortlessly flips the interview around on Funsize to discuss how we ensure impact with clients and products.
Funsize discusses our team structures and project pacing.
We share about a tactical program we run called Special Ops, in which designers may do work that can help steer the product in the direction we believe it should go. Special Ops often strengthens our impact within the client organization.
We discuss pairing design teams with clients and the importance spreading out designer's velocity across more than one project at a time. No designer works alone!
We talk about the problems with in-house designers at product companies and how to avoid driving designers insane.
Peter discusses tactical hiring decisions and team formation during his time at Groupon, to which he gives credit for increased impact of designers' decisions.
We recall our discussion with our friends at Adobe, where we learned that there's two designers to 60+ engineers at Photoshop.
Peter recalls hiring outside design support while at Groupon.
For consultancies, it's becoming just as important to help the people and companies you work with hiring internal teams as it is to help them with needed design work.
Design teams in an organization are very different from other types of teams, and they shouldn't be structured or managed as though they were just another flavor of engineer, lest you want frustrated designers.
We're excited to meet up at Front Conference in Utah, coming up this summer.