After years of trying to work out where the UX team should fit into the organisation, it feels almost inevitable that my current thinking is that it belongs everywhere and nowhere. That there is no UX team, but that everyone is the UX team.
I came to this way of thinking by trying to negotiate the organisational structure of the
On the surface that may all sound pretty trite. The truth is that, for many of our projects, the truly challenging user experience issues come not from designing the interface*, but from the constraints of the product that must be designed. Those constraints and challenges tend to come from our friends in policy or standards, or procurement or other parts of the organisation. Try as you might, you can’t interface away inappropriate policy.
It is really important that no one in the team can point to someone over in the corner and put all the burden of user experience on that guy. No one person, no small group of people can be made responsible for the user experience of a service. It is down to the entire team to achieve this, and we need to drag people into the team who make decisions way before we get on the scene. (Should we be there earlier? Perhaps. That’s one for another day).
I don’t see this as a governance issue. It’s not about who is ‘in charge’ of user experience. It’s a philosophical framework for sharing the responsibility for the users’ experience and allowing problems to be directly attributed to the true source, often far more deeply embedded in the organisation than the interface.
It assumes the prerequisite that the entire team agrees that it’s true goal is to create a great user experience. That is no small assumption. The UK Government is relatively rare in having a stated aim to
Not calling people ‘UX’ does lead to interesting challenges in day to day work – like how to refer to the team who do the interface design and user research. This is when we’re most likely to get lazy and just call people ‘UX’. Although it can feel cumbersome, every time you don’t give in, it’s a tiny little reminder of what we believe. Every time we call that team the ‘front end team’ on the project I’m working on it reminds me of our belief. That makes the somewhat awkward title totally worth it for me.
* Having said that, trying to design user interfaces that everyone in the country should be able to use is no small challenge.