Do you think designers are evangelists? Outside of the religion context, an evangelist “is a person who enthusiastically promotes or supports something” according to Wikipedia. Based on this definition, we designers are obviously User Experience evangelists. The slide below is from the training that new designers take at Microsoft, which explicitly calls designers are evangelists.
Why is important for designers to be evangelists in their teams? In addition to the reasons provided on the slide, I think it’s the best way for UX design to scale in a software development team. Think about the designer-developer ratio in any development team, most of time is 1: many. Although designers create the overall software UX design, developers build the final UX in the product. If designers can help developers understand good UX practice and the design rationales behind, it will result in an end-to-end high quality user experience. Especially when a team is working on a large product, designers usually cannot design every aspect of the product and rely on developers to make good UX design decisions.
Evangelizing UX design and Microsoft UX technologies is my daily job. I think “Influence” is the most useful skill for designers to evangelize in their teams.
The graph bellow illustrates that there are limited things we can control, but there are more things we can influence than control. The larger their sphere of influence is, the more likely someone can achieve their desired results. In the context of a software product team, maybe it’s more effective for designers to focus on influencing an experience rather than feeling the need to control it.
But how to influence others effectively? Here are my tips:
- Your influence power grows when you have more people stand by your side. For example, if you have a User Researcher or a technical writer working on the team as well, then he/she could be your best ally.
- Most of the time, you are influencing without authority. Maintaining a great relationship in the cross-disciplinary team is critical.
- In order to influence others with your design ideas, you need to clearly and creatively communicate your ideas. If you are influencing others with your design principles, make sure the principles are easy to understand and placed in handy locations where others can review them often. Also, consider communicating your design ideas in different formats (e.g. online or offline) according to the audience you are talking to.
- Build your credibility in the team by providing guidance and support to others. Don’t just focus on what you are doing and your portion of the project, providing help to others when necessary will help you grow your influence power in the long run.
Why not start practicing your influencing skills with the tips above and be the UX evangelist in your team!