Our UX Design Lead Douglas Squires talks through the various challenges and rewards of working in the UX team at makepositive...
Describe your role at makepositive
I am the UX (User Experience) Design Lead and Lead Front End Developer for makepositive. I am also our resident Communities/Experiences UX expert. I am responsible for UX focused Pre-sales work to help land new clients and scope opportunities, UX/Design/FED work during the initial Define and Design stage of projects to help bring the ‘art of the possible’ to life, gather requirements and for governance/front end build during the Develop phase of projects to ensure our solution delivers what it should. If you come to us for a Salesforce Community then I will be one of the first people you will see!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Depending on the project stage and opportunity, I can be asked to fulfil many different roles in a project or in a single week. If the project is in the pre-sales phase, that generally involves travelling to the client site (pre-covid and before Zoom calls had become the de facto means of client communication), and meeting with stakeholders and C Suite executives to ascertain their goals and understand their problems or concerns. After this stage, my normal day will be spent glued to my laptop either working on front end code or design work for the usual UX project touch points such as wireframes, high fidelity designs, proof of concepts or user journeys.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
One of the things I love about my job is the fact that in my 14 years as a UX designer, no two days are the same. Every client is different and all present unique challenges and ideas. I have worked with some incredible brands during my career, as exciting as it is to work with the greatest football club in Manchester or the premier UK sports car manufacturer; actually for me, every client is an exciting opportunity to learn how a new industry works, a new company does their business and a whole new set of objectives and opportunities which must be branded accordingly and designed efficiently and to an aesthetically pleasing standard.
What skills are the most important to perform well in this job?
I have always been an ideas man, I love problem solving and helping people, which are all essential skills in the field of UX. I like to produce as many ideas as possible and then refine and adapt through the various iterations until I end up with the best solution possible. One of my biggest skills, which I think aids me most as a UX designer is empathy – the ability to understand someone else’s position and put myself in their place. This, combined with a deep understanding of human psychology attained through years of research and human interaction with technology really helps me every day with the solutions I seek to apply for our clients. Also, being able to apply cold pragmatic logic is a definite help when sometimes it feels like you can’t see the woods for all the trees. Being able to push back at a senior stakeholder without alienating them and informing them at the same time of the logic and research behind the possible choices or solutions is a very essential skill as well.
What advice would you give someone looking to apply for a similar role?
Do it! InVision published a study last year saying that UX designer is one of the most sought after roles currently in business with over 70% of respondents saying they were seeking to grow their design team and on average most internal design teams head-counts increasing by over 20% each year. UX designers responded saying that 81% are contacted monthly by recruiters and 34% weekly to fill new roles.
With the increase in more out of the box solutions with companies like Squarespace and WordPress for web design and even Salesforce as a CRM and Community/web portal provider, I think there has never been a better time to get into UX design. Ok it is now easier than ever for anyone to produce a passable looking website/app/system but actually the devil is in the details.
The realisation of the importance of delivering a best in class customer experience and internal user experience and how this can literally mean the difference between success and failure for a company has meant that the UX designer is having a renaissance moment. Understanding why and how things should and should not happen is where the success truly lies and there will always be companies who understand that, and being able to action it effectively is what will make you worth more than your weight in gold.
What’s your favourite thing about working at makepositive?
The constant need to challenge myself and push myself harder than I ever have before. Having no one else in the company that does what I do means that it could be very easy to become complacent and rest on my laurels but that is not me. Everyday I have to improve and develop my skill set by myself, I strive to push myself and am on a constant search for more information and knowledge to increase my skill set. During my career design styles and best practice has evolved and developed significantly as well as the never ending wave of technology which i need to keep abreast of to perform my role to the high level our clients demand and deserve. A quote which I believe encapsulates perfectly the idea of what a UX designer must seek and must achieve are the words the brilliant JFK once said in regards to landing on the moon – “(we do) things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win..”
Interested in finding out more about working for us? Check out our latest vacancies here.