Posted on May 31, 2019 by Matt Stewart
Managers have a bigger responsibility in understanding these UX concepts than their teams. It’s the job of the manager to steer the ship—to lay the groundwork for their teams and then get out of the way and let them do their jobs. But how can you lay the groundwork if you aren’t familiar with the fundamentals of UX design guiding their processes? As a manager, it’s your job to be aware of these issues and make sure that you’re the control tower for your team.
1. Get Organizational Buy-In
First and foremost, UX managers need to coordinate the efforts of their team in both senior level staff and lower-level employees. It’ll be necessary for managers to work closely with higher-up executives to secure resources and set milestones. For lower-level team members, managers will need to guide strategic directives, monitor performance, and make sure the projects stay on schedule.
It’s a delicate balancing act, but it’s a necessary function of UX managers who want to keep their organizational goals aligned across all departments.
2. Flexibility in Process
Managers need to champion the idea that UX design isn’t a singular process. With so much focus on efficiency and structure in business processes (think Six Sigma or Lean), executives are often hungry for UX design workflows that can be standardized and repeated across projects. But as manager, it’s your job to make it clear that no two UX design projects are the same. Advocate on behalf of your team and push the value of flexible workflows in UX design.
3. Variations in B2B vs. B2C Design
Perhaps obvious to managers who work with a single company for years, but these days, designers and UX managers are hot commodities in the job market—and it’s not uncommon for managers to explore different opportunities that may take them into B2B vs. B2C, and vice-versa. If so, you’ll need to be aware of which design considerations work best for business-oriented markets versus typical consumers.
You’ll also want to pay specific attention to the differences in each market’s buyer journey, placing more emphasis on B2B content discovery, consistent branding, and post-sale support.
4. Ethical Design
Referring to the little-discussed concept of the “dark UX,” managers must make the final call when it comes to ethical design choices. This means watching your team and keeping an eye out for any UX/UI decisions that could potentially drive results, but at the cost of your soul, e.g., automatically renewing subscriptions without adequate warning or forcing users to go through lengthy processes to unsubscribe from basic email communications.
5. Content Metadata
While any UX designer worth his/her salt will be familiar with content metadata, it’s the manager’s responsibility to direct the strategy. As such, you’ll need to have a deep understanding of how search crawlers “read” a piece of content, categorize it, and display it to viewers.
This is a foundational element of SEO and of getting your brand seen in organic search, so make sure your team is familiar with these concepts before content production begins.
6. Adaptive Content Optimization
A crucial part of the UX, particularly where cross-platform publishing is concerned, is making sure that the right content displays at the right time. A fancier way to characterize this concept is adaptive content—or in other words, platform-agnostic content that automatically presents specific content blocks based on the platform.
From a cost/benefit perspective, managers can stretch their content budgets by tapping into this strategy and making sure that each piece of content is formatted correctly to display the best possible presentation, regardless of the device used.
7. Barriers to Conversion
This one involves assessing user behavior data and your dashboard analytics to better understand what elements are preventing your leads from converting. As manager, you’ll have unique insight into this area through your top-down assessments of your team’s work. Work with your UX engineers to look for sticking points. Are you asking for too much information on your landing pages? Are your web form fields optimized for mobile viewers as well as desktop users? Managers should work with their teams to uncover these problems and aim to make conversion best practices a key part of the company’s UX design training.
8. Branding Consistency
A great example of how managers can act as the control tower for UI/UX design decisions is in branding. Branding consistency across website, apps, and marketing materials is an obvious necessity for companies, particularly those who operate in high-value fields where customers conduct thorough research before purchasing. And when you have multiple teams working on separate site elements in silos, it can be easy for minor branding details to get lost in the shuffle.
This is particularly important when you bring on new employees to the UX team for the first time. Work toward making branding expectations clear for everyone involved in the project.
9. Recruiting the Right Team
While not directly pertaining to UX decisions, your recruiting strategy may be one of the most important parts of your project. UX design is a tricky thing, often requiring designers to have a thorough understanding of usability concepts, consumer research, backend technical considerations, and web design best practices overall. It’s a lot for any single team member to manage, and finding employees with these multi-disciplinary skill sets can be tough. Work on cultivating your teams and be careful not to dump too much work on any single individual, regardless of how much more cost-effective it may be to keep your team small.
UX Design Concepts for Managers
There’s a lot of ground for managers to cover when it comes to UX design. As the “middle ground” between high-level executives and the lower-level designers who work in the trenches, managers must be able to balance the needs of both parties to keep projects on track. It’s a tough skill set, to be sure—but it’s a necessary one if you want to develop the type of focused UX experience that modern customers expect.