We recently sat down with Jamie-Lee Easton, Practice Lead: UX at Immersion Group for a very interesting UX-inspiring Q&A
What keeps you challenged in UX?
Think about what it means to create an experience - you are creating a moment in time for a person. We owe it to the world to design long-lasting, ethical, and sustainable experiences. This becomes increasingly difficult due to the pace we are evolving at as a human-race. Not only from a human factor's perspective, the way we scroll, how we see things, how we perceive things but also our environment that is constantly changing (consider technology, the context of use, generational differences, etc.) All these are things we need to continuously learn, understand, and stay on top of to craft the perfect experience. With all that said - what is there not to keep me challenged?
What was your last biggest challenge, how did the company react and what did you learn?
I recently started a new journey as practice lead for User Experience at Immersion Group. Initially, I experienced extreme Imposter Syndrome and questioned whether I was the best person for the role. I raised this with my mentor and line manager. My mentor responded that there would be something seriously wrong if I didn't feel like that. He mentioned that everyone undertaking a new role would have this feeling and that it would take time to settle in and if it was not stretching me, what is the point? Subsequently, my line manager explained to me the reasons why I was chosen for the role. With the support, encouragement, and tools that enabled me to fulfil this role, I am settling in just fine, and getting more and more comfortable every day while being constantly challenged and curious.
How do you judge when someone is ready for that next level role within UX?
In immersion Group we have a couple of ways to determine when someone is ready for their next role. The first way is an in-depth, detailed competency model with various different technical and behavioural competencies mapped out against roles. We have recently gone through an exercise and asked Immersionites to rate themselves not only on the area of specialisation, but also on other areas to adequately determine their T-Shapes. The purpose of such an exercise is to ultimately identify whether a person is new to a role, or have outgrown their role, and how we can better support them in order to achieve their goals. The second way is to continuously get feedback from their circles (team mates) as well as clients. The combination of qualitative feedback, performance and the ratings on the competency models gives us quite an accurate and holistic view of when an Immersionite is ready for the next step in their career.
What have you done to create an environment where innovation can thrive through UX?
I recently spoke about this at the World Class Designer Conference, and answered this question as two parts. The first part - I really wanted to drive home that it's about being able and enabled to identify the right problem, and solve it in the best way, and not just blindly copy and pasting existing solutions. I referred to it as avoiding the "copy-paste syndrome". The second part - I posed a question: "How do we innovate and iterate on our own design process?". "Is there a new way of doing Guerilla Testing in times of Covid?" "Great! Let's try it!", "Is there a better way of designing for users than using personas?" "Awesome, let's investigate it!" I think it's about being open-minded, just enough to try new things, and new ways of work, but being able to maintain an excellent level of quality. I believe this can be done by understanding the foundations and theory of something. We encourage our own Immersionites to feel free and brave to explore different things, but understand the underlying theory so that we still get the same level of quality and outcome.
How does the company measure UX success?
Immersion Group measures UX Success from a capability and delivery perspective. We have our own in-house UX Practice which is responsible for enabling, growing, and teaching all our UX Designers and quality assuring and enabling projects that have a UX component. The success measured within the practice is the outcomes we achieve at clients (this is of course setting up the right tools, templates, and methods continuously and consistently and enabling and growing our people).
What is the structure of cross-functional teams? How does UX influence multi-disciplined teams?
Cross-functional teams comes in many forms and shapes, but it is ultimately dependent on the needs and requirements of the specific project or initiative. In most of our projects we would have a blend of Product Owners, Deliver Managers, UX, UI and Content Strategists, Leads, and Designers, and in some cases front-end developers. We work closely with data and analytics teams, marketing teams, in house product teams to ultimately craft great user experiences. Think of a project as building a house, and all of the different roles and disciplines coming together to build this house, from the architect, to the builder to the interior decorator. When we build a solution, we also have different people involved that give their specialised input into building a digital solution, and I believe that's how great experiences are made - having many cross-skilled, highly-specialised people give input into a solution.
How does UX contribute strategically to the company’s success?
Immersion Group initially started as a UX company, where we wanted to partner with and provide extraordinary UX services to companies. Our key differentiator has always been quality and sitting behind quality, is not only being fluent in the theory, or even knowing how to execute it in practice, but also knowing how to apply and adapt it in different organisations and situations. In recent years though, we have realised that there is in fact a great demand to deliver integrated experiences, and we have expanded our capabilities to include UI and Content as part of a holistic digital design solution. Other capabilities that has come to life in Immersion Group to craft a holistic experience is XD, CX, and Customer Strategy. So even though UX is no longer our only offering at Immersion Group it remains a crucial capability to create user-obsessed experiences.
How do companies currently view the role of a “UX Designer”? Should this change, how should we be viewing UX designers within organisations?
It's interesting what is being demanded from designers nowadays... Many companies want to hire "unicorns" that are cross-skilled across different capabilities like UX, UI, Front-end dev, etc. What they might not realise is that these unicorns are extremely t-shaped, but most likely don't specialise in any of the capabilities. For me it's extremely important to have a deep t-shape with a specialisation in order to provide the best level of quality for my teams, projects and clients. This doesn't mean I'm oblivious to what happens in UI, content, front-end dev, etc. I still have knowledge about those capabilities, but would rather lean on my specialised colleagues if I need specialised input from them. Looking back at the "building a house" analogy you won't want your architect to be your builder or your builder to be your interior decorator - they simply don't specialise in their respective fields... Why should we expecting this from designers?
MORE ABOUT JAMIE
Born and raised in a small town in South Africa, with no more than a few thousand people Jamie chased her dreams all the way to the city where she successfully completed her degree in B.Com Informatics, later furthering her studies with a B.Com Hons in Informatics minoring in industrial psychology.
Following her discovery of user experience in a human-computer interaction class, she has since worked with some of South Africa’s largest financial organisations including Standard Bank, Old Mutual and ABSA but also gaining experience within health and care services and retail industries.
Her passion for skills development, career growth, mentorship and inspiring of other up and coming industry professionals; Jamie thrives when interacting with people, contributing to knowledge-share and making a success of navigating projects through even the toughest of challenges.
Connect with Jamie on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamie-lee-easton/
Learn more about Immersion Group: www.immersion-group.com