How to Start a UX Team from Square One
Key questions and considerations when building your dream team
What is your plan? Create one. It starts here.
What skills and traits will add the most value? Write them down.
How will you find talent? Hint: network, network, network!
How will different candidates work together? Consider your options.
How does company culture play into the selection process? Ensure values are aligned.
What is your onboarding process? Ensuring a new associate feels like a part of the team is important.
Once you’ve got the right people, how will you keep them? Engage. Encourage. Empower.
Whether you work at an ad agency, consultancy, or run an in-house operation, project teams come in all shapes, sizes, and skillsets. Determining who has the right expertise for a specific project can prove tricky, and bringing the right people on board, whether full time or freelance, can make or break an engagement. While developing a team of top user experience (UX) talent is always the goal, the process to get there is not always clear. It’s more than just recruiting, hiring, and onboarding. Here, we offer our recommendation for creating a team from square one.
Start with a vision
Having a strategic roadmap in place is essential. Just as companies often forecast their future to ensure continued success, you should have an idea of how you want your team to grow. Start with an end goal and work backward, creating separate milestones along the way. Then, begin to determine what type of talent you will need at each milestone. Start small. At first, you might need only a few people to support ongoing efforts. Then, after your division has seen growth, you can leverage the success to hire more. But keep in mind, it’s not always about the number of team members but rather the quality of the work that’s getting done. Which, brings us to the next point.
The hiring process—early stages
Who should you hire? Answering this
question is not always so easy. Assembling a dream team takes time because it’s much more than merely combining great skill sets; you also need to make sure that team members get along—conflicting personalities or diva attitudes can quickly bring a team down. The most simple place to start in the hiring process is to develop job descriptions and the qualifications that go along with the culture.
When it is time to begin looking through resumes, keep those descriptions in mind, focusing on the top three qualities you require. By identifying your needs upfront, it becomes easier to set up interviews with the right people.
UX/UI team configurations vary based on budget and team size restrictions. We find that most groups are composed of:
See our sample UX team, their skills + super powers
- UX Designer
- UI/Visual Designer
- Interaction Designer
- Information Architect
- UX Researcher
- Project Manager/Product Owner
- Business Analyst
Finding talent in all the right places
Some companies take a more conventional path to build a team. They might hire from within or outsource needs to placement agencies. But it’s not always beneficial to leave the talent search to an outside source. There’s always a chance that the headhunter doesn’t fully understand the UX/PM industry.
For instance, think back to a time when you’ve been on the phone with a recruiter. Have you ever realized a few minutes into the conversation that they might not need you but rather another position altogether? This is especially relevant to more obscure positions, such as a backend developer or information architect. Sometimes having the ability to identify the necessary job experience requires technical knowledge that only a person who has worked in the field can spot.
One of the best places to find great talent? The network you already have. Reach out to people you have connected with on social media—LinkedIn is always a good place to start. Try good ole fashioned word of mouth. Use your connections to find people who are looking for their next opportunity. These tactics, in combination with the traditional ad placements, should bring in a sufficient amount of options to start with.
It’s essential to get to know your candidates. During conversation pay attention to qualities that reflect what you want in your team. UX/PM teams look for collaborative and innovative problem solvers with a user-centered perspective. Ask yourself: will this person bring an optimistic attitude and adapt even with the most challenging projects or clients?
Once you’ve interviewed a number of candidates for a few different positions, consider their skill sets and personalities. Who best fits together? Consider a few options composed of different candidates and feel out who makes the best fit. Doing this will also help to identify additional positions you’ll need to fill in the future. Make sure that the rest of your organization is on board with your plan including leadership. Allow them to ask questions to ensure buy-in from all the top players.
The best for last: culture
Just as important as it is to build a solid team, creating a healthy environment for the team to work in is key. If your organization makes culture a priority, then you’re in luck—systems are already in place for your group to grow and thrive. If culture feels lacking, however, it presents an opportunity to consider how to engage team members. To keep them happy, comfortable, and motivated to produce awesome work. One of the best (and easiest) ways to go about this is to ask your team. What do they require to create the best possible working environment and boost team morale? Most likely, they will have plenty of ideas to offer.
Now, it’s your job to implement and watch your team shine!