What is UX design?

Amazon / DesignPopcorn 🍿
Aug 19, 2018 20 Comments

I’ve walked through my portfolio with UX recruiters/HMs from Facebook, MS, Google, +others, and I’ve gotten consistent feedback that the work “isn’t UX design”.

Project 1: Evaluated and analyzed company’s communication strategy with customers, gathered qualitative feedback and quant data from research team and proposed a revised strategy to leadership that later resulted in measurable value to business and customers.

Project 2: Identified opportunity for better case handling/support for a common customer issue. Researched the issue and partnered with legal/program management teams to develop a revised company policy. Managed roll-out and customer communication of new policy and reported on KPIs that showed call reduction, higher customer sat, and increased engagement linked to the change.

Project 3: Re-imagined a webform that had a high drop-off rate due to a mismatch with the customer needs as an SMS experience resulting in a drastic increase in form completion and data quality.

Each of these projects stemmed from UX insights, I modeled and developed solutions to address opportunities I discovered, and I measured the outcomes of my work.

Is UX limited to drawing screen UIs or am I just doing a poor job connecting the dots? How do you present UX work that isn’t tied to a UI?

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TOP 20 Comments
  • Monster uuuoooaaa
    What you're doing sounds more like service design. Look it up. It's not really a thing in the States yet. Maybe look for "customer experience" type roles. UX design is research > insights > revise goals > develop design solution > wireframe > prototype > user test > revise > repeat
    Aug 19, 20181
    • New TBIM54
      I'd agree. A bizdev or a customer experience position may be more appropriate.
      Aug 19, 2018
  • Amazon / DesignPopcorn 🍿
    OP
    Why is wireframing a UI part of the UX process?
    Aug 19, 20184
    • New TBIM54
      It is a type of prototyping, which is essential for any type of design.
      Aug 19, 2018
    • Amazon / DesignPopcorn 🍿
      OP
      Jumping to making an app or website as a UX solution seems like a fairly shallow way to practice UX design. However, if that’s the common understanding, maybe I should update my folio to only include screen-flows.
      Aug 19, 2018
    • Monster uuuoooaaa
      What TBIM54 said. You need to communicate with others how you would change a design, even if it's just a process. You still create user flows and less commonly, wireframes, for process and service design types of projects.
      Aug 19, 2018
    • Amazon / DesignPopcorn 🍿
      OP
      That makes sense. Maybe I should include more of the artifacts in my presentation.
      Aug 19, 2018
  • SunTrust ••|••
    I would have asked these people to elaborate. I’m also curious to know what percentage of this feedback came from recruiters versus hiring managers.

    Tbqh, anyone who tells you that you need to have UI elements in your portfolio in order to “prove” that you do UX work doesn’t really know what UX is, especially considering you’ve been in principal-level roles where production work probably isn’t typically your output. It is totally possible to do UX work that isn’t tied to a UI at all.

    Maybe these people aren’t the kind of people you want to work for.
    Aug 19, 20181
    • Amazon / DesignPopcorn 🍿
      OP
      That’s what I keep asking myself. When I interviewed at Facebook, they really harped in what they call “attention to craft” saying I should have included more screen shots and animations in my folio. The feedback also said I talked a lot about outcomes, but not enough about process.

      I’ve incorporated the feedback into my presentation, but the priorities seem odd to me for evaluating a UX designer. In the templated, tool-enabled world we live in...I’m not terribly impressed when designers show off their flavor of a “material” login screen or floating field labels... 🤷‍♂️
      Aug 19, 2018
  • New TBIM54
    Project 1 and 2 sound like business analysis or bizdev. Only project 3 seems to be related to what an actual user is going through.

    There are research components that you mention, but they may not be as rigorous as the methods for UX design.

    Have you produced any of the artifacts or flows that the users are going through in these projects? Are they featured in your portfolio? Happy to have a look if you provide a link.
    Aug 19, 20184
    • Amazon / DesignPopcorn 🍿
      OP
      I have a pretty broad range of projects ranging from policy updates to developing new apps, websites, or features to help customer have a better experience when engaging with the brand. Since I’ve been a Sr. or Principle designer in each of my roles, I’m usually responsible for gathering insights, modeling solutions with stakeholders, execution/adoption, and reporting outcomes to leadership.

      I guess my understanding of UX design was never limited to the screen, but maybe it should be?
      Aug 19, 2018
    • New TBIM54
      Your role sounds more like a coordinating role. If you are well-versed in research methods (academic level knowledge + degree) maybe a research role.

      If you are not gathering the insight yourself, that is, planning and carrying out the research with actual users, then you would have very hard time to make a case for a design or a research title.

      It would be pushing to call yourself a UX designer if you are not doing any production work, either.

      Why do you want to call yourself a UX designer?
      Aug 19, 2018
    • Amazon / DesignPopcorn 🍿
      OP
      I’ve been in a Sr. or Principle level UX design role for more than 11 years. After spending the past 3 as an L7 UX designer at Amazon, I opted to branch out to other tech companies in the area. The feedback was surprising at first, but after hearing it again I’m reconsidering my definition of the role and maybe reshaping how I present my work.
      Aug 19, 2018
    • New TBIM54
      Best of luck. I managed 60+ designers in VP and director roles in the past 5 years, dm if you want feedback on your portfolio.
      Aug 19, 2018
  • Uber nejkylo
    What you described is the first 50%. At the end of the day Designer is an IC role. You're supposed to take all that a d actually apply it to the product. UX Designer means... User Experience Designer. Which means you have to design the user experience (how they interact with the product).

    A good product manager could do what you did. In fact if you don't want to do hands on work that's probably the role for you.
    Aug 19, 20181
    • Amazon / DesignPopcorn 🍿
      OP
      Execution has always been part of my role, including websites and apps I’ve worked on. I have plenty of pieces that showcase mocks and prototypes I’ve built, but that’s a bit narrow in my opinion without the context of what the user needed in the first place, or how the business might change to meet those needs.
      Aug 19, 2018
  • New / DesignScoobyPoop
    Your projects sound like marketing. Maybe research and analytics too. This is only a small percentage of what UX is.
    Aug 20, 20180
  • New / Designb7dpX
    This sounds like service design as said above, Cap1 and Lyft both hire for service designers explicitly
    Aug 19, 20180
  • Amazon IIik40
    Popcorn I’m really interested in what you’re saying and I’m struggling with the same ( UX identity ) and what an L7 role should even look like and what are the expectations. L7 business folks are expected to set the overall strategy for a product which by definition includes the CX strategy , so what does that leave for an L7 UX designer? I agree with you that at that level your work / value shouldn’t be tied to “UI production” especially when there is no net new elements or patterns that were invented. showcasing the complexity of the work either by the complexity of number of stakeholders you had to get aligned , the technical complexity of the work itself or some other form of complexity that you had to tackle that someone in a less senior role wouldn’t be able to do. I am saddened though, that the CX strategy is expected out of an L7 business leader and not a design leader . Highly frustrating
    Mar 230
  • Lyft / OpsCESTMOI
    Did you do any User testing?
    Oct 17, 20180

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