How do you evaluate just how committed a tech company is to UX? You might be in the middle of the interview process and you want to know what life will really be like on the inside. Or you might currently be in a company like the one I describe below and you’re not sure how to evaluate whether to stay.
Below are 10 hard-won and very specific red-flags that the company you are dealing with isn’t really committed to UX yet. And if you currently work for a company like this you have to decide whether you’re up for the difficult challenge of changing their culture or moving on to a company that is more committed to UX (they do exist).
1. During the interview are they asking you to “clean up our interfaces” because “they are a mess” OR are they asking you to come up with the overall flow, vision and bonus: do they expect you to do customer visits and usability testing?
2. When you mention you always do research before a design is their response “we’ll get to that eventually but we can’t right now.”
3. Does Design (any discipline of design), B.A. (Business Analysis), or god-forbid Product report to engineering, the VP of engineering or a CTO (this really happens).
4. Do they not have a formal Product Manager at their company and I don’t mean Product Owner. (lol bonus red-flag: Do they not know the difference between Product Manager and Product Owner? super yikes)
5. Was the company started by an engineer who has little to no business savvy (this is very common in Utah) if so RUN AWAY FAST.
6. Do they actually have dedicated front-end developers (UI engineers, Web Designers or whatever you call them) or are the back-end programmers also doing all the front-end development?
7. When you say a design will take a month is their response “oh gosh no we don’t have time for that we need stuff today.”
8. Have they done a usability test ever in the entire time they’ve been in business?
9. Are they asking you to code your own designs (for example: you design it in Sketch and then you build it yourself in HTML/CSS/et.all)?
10. Are they asking you to actually design in HTML (design with code) and not in some kind of drawing program or sketching process? (Or god-forbid are they asking you to design in an IDE’s interface builder?)
And just because I’ve seen so many, here are some bonus red-flags:
11. When they describe your job requirements are they actually describing what a traditional graphic designer does? For example, do they say the phrase “We need someone who can make it pretty.”
12. Did someone at the company with no design experience “try” to design their interfaces and failed miserably but still to this day thinks they nailed it?
If you run into these red-flags be warned you are entering or are currently in an environment that is not really committed to UX yet. But that doesn’t mean you have to quit or not take the job. It just means you’re going to be spending a great deal of time fighting for UX versus actually doing UX. It can be very rewarding to change a culture to love and fully commit to UX, but this challenge is not for the feint of heart and especially not for someone who just wants to spend their day designing.