Ask DN : What is your definition of a 'Lead' ?

almost 5 years ago from , Lead Experience Designer at Hugo & Cat

We're debating roles and titles at the moment, so I'm throwing this out there to get some help. As we all know they differ massively between size of organisation and involve a lot of inter-company politics but...

What is your company's definition of a 'Lead' (UX or Design)? What key skills would someone with the title have? How does this differ from a Senior role, or Principle or any-other-title-you-use?


  • Carlos SousaCarlos Sousa, almost 5 years ago

    It depends how your company's projects are run. For instance, where I work I'm Lead UX on some projects, while other senior designers are Lead UX on other projects. Since we are part of a company group, there is the Group UX Lead where UX 'recommendations' come from but each UX Designer has the freedom of deciding how things are done, through user testing, user research, analytics, etc.

    In terms of skills you have to have great communication skills, being able to express users' point of view, elaborate on how deep the problem is and what can be done to solve it, is a major part of being a good UX designer. Another key skill is being able to map user journeys to uncover potential pain points, being able to read quantitative data and produce qualitative data through user testing and research. You'll need this to justify your decisions.

    Lastly using the right tools for the right tasks, this skill is not major but helps a UX designer on the longer run. Quick wireframing and prototyping tools to focus on what really matters, putting things in front of users.

    If you are looking at being the head of UX then all these skills are pretty much useless to you. The head of UX will manage people and projects, you want management skills like project prioritisation that favours product/service development where the business KPI's are met. Another good skill of a head of UX is being able to keep the UX team happy and motivated, bring them to workshops, invest on good software and hardware. Happy team = fresher and better ideas.

    Very crude explanation but you'll get an idea, hope it helps.

    3 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      Thanks I like your definition!

      So 'Lead' isn't the title you have, more your role within the project team? Does it get confusing to have Project Lead and Group UX Lead both having the term 'lead' ? :)

      0 points
  • Ferdi WielingFerdi Wieling, over 4 years ago

    In my current job we don't use the "Lead" prefix, but tend to stick to senior/director/group/executive/vp/etc. trajectory. At a previous agency however the "Lead" was assigned on a per project basis and could be anyone that was more senior and was responsible for their particular discipline.

    So a creative lead on the project would be where the buck stopped in terms of ensuring everyone on the team understood what needed to be done, managed expectations and comms with other disciplines, etc. Same for the other leads. What this establishes is a working environment where everyone is clear about ownership and communication responsibilities.

    What it prevents is a bunch of supposedly senior people, sitting around a mess that is the project and all shrugging and going - "I thought you were going to do fix that...".

    1 point
    • Tom Good, over 4 years ago

      That last point is interesting, but does that happen a lot in your experience? (A lot of Senior people debating responsibility without some guidance? )

      0 points
  • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 4 years ago

    I would say that "Lead" heads up a team that's not large enough to constitute a formal department (or if it does, they may lead the team but they're not senior management).

    In my experience Seniors and Leads are roughly at the same level in terms of experience, but with different team structures.

    0 points