Design recruiting, portfolios, and showing work

Jared Spool tweeted about hiring designers and requiring portfolios a couple days ago: If you’re trying to hire designers & require a portfolio, you’re not gonna get top talent. The best designers don’t have them. Too busy. — Jared Spool (@jmspool) November 2, 2016 As a design hiring manager. I require a portfolio. In Org Design […]

Customer-centered is the optimal org model in a world of services

In Org Design for Design Orgs, we argue that design teams should be organized by customer journey. Let’s say your service is a simple marketplace. Instead of having designers embedded in the different product teams that make up the marketplace (a fully decentralized and embedded model), or instead of having a single monolithic team (a fully centralized model), to instead […]

Centralized vs Decentralized UX orgs… over 20 years ago

In Org Design for Design Orgs, an entire chapter (Ch. 4, The Centralized Partnership) addresses organization models for design teams, specifically centralized, decentralized and embedded, and the Centralized Partnership, our preferred hybrid approach. After I spoke at the Big Design Conference in Dallas last week, an attendee, Randolph Bias, pointed me to a paper he co-wrote […]

Glowing unsolicited feedback about “Org Design for Design Orgs”

In writing Org Design for Design Orgs, Kristin and I had a sense of the kind of impact it could have, in that it addresses a gap in the current conversation around design, specifically on organizational, operational, and managerial issues. And while we consider this topic vital, we weren’t sure how readers would respond. So, […]

Levels framework: like Lebowski’s rug for your design org

From Chapter 7 of Org Design for Design Orgs: Many companies use a framework of levels to chart the seniority of employees. Typically, human resources (HR) teams use levels to calibrate employees across different functions, to make things easier in matters such as compensation. The risk of working with levels is adopting a bureaucratic stance, […]

Design orgs get fucked over by relative team size

Typically, design orgs are significantly smaller than the engineering orgs they support. Designer:developer ratios are usually between 1:4 and 1:10. In the diagram here, we’re looking at 1:6. In the book, we discuss the benefit of this ratio—design is a highly leveraged function, where a relatively small number of designers can have an outsized impact. There’s a dark side to […]

You probably don’t have enough designers

I’m reposting items originally written for This post is from April 19, 2016. On Twitter, Sally Carson asked me the question, “…how to best ‘resource’ design & plan projects when you have designers embedded on cross-functional teams?” I gave a 140-character answer, “The simple answer is: hire more designers. Or, only do so many […]

“Should Designers Code?” fetishizes tech over other crucial design skills

I’m reposting items originally written for This post is from April 13, 2016. I’m writing a book on building effective in-house design teams. I recently completed a draft of the chapter on professional development for designers. The following is inspired by that. Design is so much more than what most people think it is. […]