If I could dog-ear every page in this book I would.
The UX Team of One is a "Research and Design Survival Guide" by Leah Buley. A damn good one.
So what is a User Experience Team of One?
Buley states that a "User Experience team of one is someone who works in a situation where they are the key person driving a user-centred design philosophy. Certainly, if you are the only person practising (or aspiring to practice) user-centred design, you are a user experience team of one."
The role of UX can seem daunting with a dizzying amount of tasks, responsibilities and multiple definitions. Sure, if you've landed a junior UX (or you're a senior) role in a well funded, highly organised and UX focused company, you should be sweet. No doubt your gig is challenging, but there may be more well-defined roles and responsibilities.
A UX team of one has some different challenges. As outlined in the opening pages:
You feel like a jack of all trades, master of none.
You need to evangelize.
You're learning on the job.
You're working with constrained resources.
You're charting your course.
Challenges, yes. But also, exciting opportunities.
To better guide a reader Buley has broken the book up into two main parts.
Part 1: Philosophy
Part 2: Practice
In Part 1: Philosophy, Buley explains what it means to be a UX team of one, we're talking UX 101, getting started, how to build support and how to grow yourself and your career etc etc, mostly standard introduction fare. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this, as it is important information, but I feel that many may already be across a lot of it.
The chapter on growing yourself and your career, was enlightening, I don't know many in this industry, and I haven't really met any in the same position that I am in, so reading about self-starters makes me feel as if I am a part of the community, that no road is straight in UX. Getting that career chat from a book was a new experience for me, and I learned of new resources and communities that I researched and joined. I hadn't heard of the IXDA before, I looked further and it looks like the Melbourne chapter is dead, but the Sydney chapter is thriving, so I joined. The book gave me actionable career advice, which I sorely need. Great practical advice.
Part 2 is the practical, actionable things that you can do for your UX team of one process, the nitty gritty, the nuts and bolts.
Many will be aware of these methods (Discovery, Research, Design, Testing, Evangelism), but part 2 has a focus on how to do these methods if it's just you leading the process, or doing something like running usability tests by yourself.
Each chapter in Part 2 is broken down into multiple methods (around 6 for each chapter). For example:
Chapter 6: Research Methods has 6 different methods that you can perform as a UX team of one (Learning Plan, Guerilla User Research, Proto-Personas, Heuristic Markup, Comparative Assessment and Content Patterns). Each method is explained in detail, what the method is, what it's for, how long it'll take when to use and a step by step instruction of how to do it. This is accompanied by images, examples and handy tips and tricks. This makes it super easy to add to your own processes and add to your repertoire of tricks to get better results for users.
A favourite addition to the end of each chapter is; a short section titled "If you only do one thing...". This is a quick guide of what to choose depending on your situation.
In Part 1 of the book (Philosophy), it is often used as a summary of the most important part of the chapter, the big takeaway.
Where this shines is in Part 2: Practice.
At the end of the chapter, we get that excellent little "If you only do one thing..." that a person can easily flick to and make a quick decision on the most important method to employ in the situation. For example in Chapter 8: Testing and Validation Methods the "If you only do one thing..." box, advises that if you only have the time for one method in the chapter that you should choose the "Black Hat Session" (a group activity where each person is to adopt the most critical and judgemental perspective they can muster and to look at the designs from that point of view. It gives the team the opportunity to openly talk and discuss the designs, giving feedback that is sometimes held back for far too long). Giving this little "If you only do one thing..." makes the decision-making process for a time and resource-strapped designer so much easier.
I don't know about you, but I just do not have the resources to run full scale Sprints, so grabbing a quick takeaway to improve the experience is priceless.
As UX teams of one, we are restricted by time and resources. The User Experience Team of One gives actionable tools that are easy to follow, easy to flick to, and easy to employ. As I said, if I could dog-ear every page in this book, I would. An extremely worthy addition to my shelf.
Highly recommended for a practical, easy to follow and easy to employ set of methods and techniques to increase your practice as a user experience team of one.
** The cover also has some weird velvety finish on it that feels odd, more of this, please.