ALL UX JOBS ARE
(NOT)
CREATED EQUAL
⚠
Madison+ UX
July 11, 2014
Director, User Experience at Recurly
San Francisco, CA
@mntgmry
Andy Montgomery
⋆
1998
2004
2012
Software Engineer
UX Designer
UX Director
Interactive Director
2007
A brief history.
Director, User Experie...
A brief history.
Director, User Experience at Recurly
San Francisco, CA
@mntgmry
Andy Montgomery
⋆
AGENCIES
T R I C Y C L ...
DESIGN AT RECURLY
Team.


Visual Designer
UI Designers (2)
Front-End Engineers (2)
UX Designer / Design Director (me)
Philosophy.


Everythi...
DESIGN AT AGENCIES
🌄
DESIGN AT AGENCIES
🌄
What is an Agency?


Work for hire: Client services, Consulting, Freelance

Paid to produce something...
DESIGN AT AGENCIES
🌄
How does it work?


Focus on billing hours and producing deliverables

Waterfall process

Estimated a...
DESIGN AT AGENCIES
🌄
Why does it work this way?


Traditional Ad Agency Model (think Mad Men)

Clients pay for “deliverabl...
DESIGN AT AGENCIES
🌄
Pros.


Exciting!

Variety

Learning

Practice

Portfolio
DESIGN AT AGENCIES
🌄
Cons.

Model is sorta broken

Clients

Stressful

Not (usually) iterative

Combative relationships
DESIGN AT STARTUPS
🚀
What is a Startup?


A company with a product or service

Creating or improving quickly with a goal of acquisition or IPO
...
How does it work?


Focus on improving the product to meet customer needs

Process is collaborative (sometimes) and lean (...
Why does it work this way?


Build faster

Learn faster

Customers, not clients

Product effectiveness
DESIGN AT STARTUPS
🚀
Pros.


Focus

Purpose

Collaborative relationships

Failure is valuable

Highly iterative (hopefully)DESIGN AT STARTUPS
🚀
Cons.


Slower, deeper learning on one product

Riskier (sometimes)

Customers

Sometimes boring?

Limited portfolioDESIGN...
so... WHAT TO DO?
%
It depends.


There are upsides to both

Start at an agency, move to a product company

Think about what you like to do mo...
Questions?
❓
Questions?
❓
@mntgmry
Additional Reading.
!
UX Design at Digital Agencies is F*cked (Part 2 & a Response)
Lean UX in an Ag...
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All UX Jobs Are (Not) Created Equal

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Doing user experience design work at a digital agency is very different from doing it at a startup or small product company. I should know: I spent the first 15 years of my career in and running agencies and for the past year have been leading the UX effort at a small (50ish) but successful startup called Recurly in San Francisco. (You may have heard of us.)

In this talk, I’ll be sharing my experiences on both sides, the strengths and weaknesses of each, and sharing a few recommendations for the UX designer just starting out or thinking of making the leap from one to the other.

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All UX Jobs Are (Not) Created Equal

  1. 1. ALL UX JOBS ARE (NOT) CREATED EQUAL ⚠ Madison+ UX July 11, 2014
  2. 2. Director, User Experience at Recurly San Francisco, CA @mntgmry Andy Montgomery ⋆
  3. 3. 1998 2004 2012 Software Engineer UX Designer UX Director Interactive Director 2007 A brief history. Director, User Experience at Recurly San Francisco, CA @mntgmry Andy Montgomery ⋆
  4. 4. A brief history. Director, User Experience at Recurly San Francisco, CA @mntgmry Andy Montgomery ⋆ AGENCIES T R I C Y C L E STARTUPS
  5. 5. DESIGN AT RECURLY
  6. 6. Team. 
 Visual Designer UI Designers (2) Front-End Engineers (2) UX Designer / Design Director (me) Philosophy. 
 Everything is UX (and UX is Everything) Work. 
 Product Marketing You name it DESIGN AT RECURLY
  7. 7. DESIGN AT AGENCIES 🌄
  8. 8. DESIGN AT AGENCIES 🌄 What is an Agency? 
 Work for hire: Client services, Consulting, Freelance
 Paid to produce something, and then hand it off
 External to company and product
 Short-term relationship with the client and the product (usually)
 Some environments are better than others
  9. 9. DESIGN AT AGENCIES 🌄 How does it work? 
 Focus on billing hours and producing deliverables
 Waterfall process
 Estimated and then billed by the hour
 Multiple clients and projects at once
 More specialized skill set and defined roles related to waterfall
 Less iterative, more sequential
 Hard(er) Deadlines
  10. 10. DESIGN AT AGENCIES 🌄 Why does it work this way? 
 Traditional Ad Agency Model (think Mad Men)
 Clients pay for “deliverables”
 Deliverables have to look good (PSDs, not sketches)
 Resource management is hard
  11. 11. DESIGN AT AGENCIES 🌄 Pros. 
 Exciting!
 Variety
 Learning
 Practice
 Portfolio
  12. 12. DESIGN AT AGENCIES 🌄 Cons.
 Model is sorta broken
 Clients
 Stressful
 Not (usually) iterative
 Combative relationships
  13. 13. DESIGN AT STARTUPS 🚀
  14. 14. What is a Startup? 
 A company with a product or service
 Creating or improving quickly with a goal of acquisition or IPO
 Design for an internal team helping to create or improve the product
 Long-term relationship with the product and customers
 Some environments are better than othersDESIGN AT STARTUPS 🚀
  15. 15. How does it work? 
 Focus on improving the product to meet customer needs
 Process is collaborative (sometimes) and lean (hopefully)
 Broader skill set required
 Flexible deadlines (sorta) DESIGN AT STARTUPS 🚀
  16. 16. Why does it work this way? 
 Build faster
 Learn faster
 Customers, not clients
 Product effectiveness DESIGN AT STARTUPS 🚀
  17. 17. Pros. 
 Focus
 Purpose
 Collaborative relationships
 Failure is valuable
 Highly iterative (hopefully)DESIGN AT STARTUPS 🚀
  18. 18. Cons. 
 Slower, deeper learning on one product
 Riskier (sometimes)
 Customers
 Sometimes boring?
 Limited portfolioDESIGN AT STARTUPS 🚀
  19. 19. so... WHAT TO DO? %
  20. 20. It depends. 
 There are upsides to both
 Start at an agency, move to a product company
 Think about what you like to do most and focus there
 Consider lifestyle you want
 Look for somewhere that appreciates UX from the top down
 Never stop learning
 Keep skills current
 Design A LOT
 Volunteer
 Share your work (early and often) so... WHAT TO DO? %
  21. 21. Questions? ❓
  22. 22. Questions? ❓ @mntgmry Additional Reading. ! UX Design at Digital Agencies is F*cked (Part 2 & a Response) Lean UX in an Agency World How I’ve Come to Love Agile UX Design The Agile Mindset – Perceptions around Failure How I Learned to Become a Failure The McDonald’s Theory Lean UX: Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business 10 Most Common Misconceptions About UX Design Konigi: User Experience Definitions When To Apply UX Apple's Design Approach “Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right” Thinking, Fast and Slow Insights on Collaborating with Steve Jobs This Advertising Life Tweets. ! @mntgmry

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