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2021 January Questions and Answers

Question from audience: (opinion) are there opportunities for UX in small companies? what’s your experience with small company — wearing many hats (including UX) vs large company with more specialized roles (dedicated UX)


Answer from Eric Wiley

Yes, absolutely! Anyone can begin incorporating UX into their job. For context, I have been a one-person department in several past jobs. My main responsibilities in those roles were to build and manage the public facing website, and to a lesser degree create sales presentations (web, print). In all cases I reported to the company owner or CEO. 

Here are a grab-bag of pointers I gathered from serving in those roles for incorporating user-centered design/ux into my job:

  • Just do it. If it doesn't absolutely require buy-in or permission: identify a new process you'd like to try out, start small, and experiment with incorporating it into your process.
  • Speak the native tongue. If what you're doing requires conversation or approval from stakeholders, and they have no interest in "UX" or user-centered design, frame what you plan to do (or have already done) in terms they can relate to. Mainly, show them how what you're doing will help increase efficiencies or impact the bottom line. Don't try to convert them to UX, simply sell them on the business advantages using language they are familiar with. You can always re-frame the work you've done in UX terms when you're talking to your next potential employer or client. An anecdote to make my point: One of my friends was a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. He learned it in a small town in Indiana in the 80s. For years, he and his parents thought he was learning Karate. When he got older and became friends with his instructor, who owned the school, he asked him why his school was marketed as a Karate school. The owner said, "Because no one around here knows what Jiu Jitsu is."
  • Become friendly with people who interface directly with customers (or whatever the term is for your target audience) at your workplace. It's critical to know the intentions and motivations of the people you're creating solutions for. If you don't have direct access to those people in your job, then the next best thing is to be able to ask questions of people in your organization who do.

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