For those thinking about making the switch from designing in-house, to an agency, or for a consultancy, there are unique opportunities and challenges a user experience (UX) designer faces. From the varied cultures to the type of work to the skills that best suit each environment, designers can experience diversity in their careers.
To explore the topic, we recently co-sponsored a virtual panel discussion alongside Flexport, a freight forwarding platform company, and the Product Strategy and Design Chicago Meetup group.
Elaine Meese, UX Manager at Flexport
Patty Ni, Principal Product Designer at Root Insurance Company
David Burns, Design Director at Grubhub
Mo Goltz, UX Researcher and Design Strategist at CuriosityTank
Below we share some of the key takeaways from the conversation.
The Combat Metaphor
When considering the differences between work environments, it’s important to remember the lens of opportunity. Whether in-house or agency or consultancy, you are providing a service to a company, and there’s a lot that goes with that.
One panelist shared a metaphor to help explain the differences. Think of an in-house designer as a general, in charge of the army with deep institutional knowledge. You have your ranks above and below, building a roadmap for users. You are sticking around to see the outcomes of your work.
Consultants are the SWAT team. They come into what could be a messy situation and ask, “What are we here to fix? What are we supposed to make?” They are triaging, forging relationships, and building trust in order to achieve a successful end result.
Finally, agency designers are the mercenaries for hire. They are known for doing something really good and are hired for execution and tactics, more so than strategy.