#4: Weekly Digest

The purpose of this newsletter is to help you grow as a designer and human and increase your chances to get hired in UX. While I am trying to form my voice for this newsletter, I will be experimenting with the content strategy, so bear with me 🙏

Disclaimer: all opinions are my own, just sharing my thoughts.

💬 Quote of the week

You say freak, I say unique.

— Christian Baloga

🙋‍♂️ Question of the week

Do companies look for specialists or generalists?

As with many things, it depends. Different companies are looking for different kinds of roles. After getting to know different environments, my observation was that the larger the company the more specialized the roles tend to get. And on the other side, within the startup world, the tendency is to have generalists just because they cannot afford a larger team. So, many startups hire generalists.

However, the more I was learning about different startups (and large companies), the more exceptions I was noticing. There are quite a few small startups that have specialist roles. Also, many large companies look for generalist roles. This was contradicting my initial analysis. Thinking through this further, my understanding has shifted from company size to the design team size. The larger the team size, the higher the level of specialization goes.

Later, I learned about some companies who had a large design team size, but quite a low level of specialization. Though it’s not as common, I decided to seek better patterns for what determines if a company looks for specialists or generalists. And my (current) conclusion is that it all ties to the level of maturity of the design practice at a company. This is not directly connected to the company or design team size, but I have noticed that with larger companies and larger design teams, there is a higher chance of finding more mature design practice.

Then, I was thinking of how could one find companies that have the level of maturity they are interested in. And so far, I haven’t found a foolproof method. The way I have been doing this is by using the job description as a proxy. Not the best way, but can indicate some red flags quite fast. For instance, having 20+ items in the list of job responsibilities, or minimum requirements of 3 years of experience for an entry-level position, or many others. (might be worth writing a separate post on the topic of job posting red flags 🤔). Also, the job posting should give you some clues about the specialist or generalist question. Quite often, there will be a couple of lines in the overview of what kind of designers they are looking for. Or the job responsibilities.

My favourite way though is to have a conversation with the design leader and designers at this company and ask them questions about how they do things (as an indication of their level of design practice maturity) and directly about the job responsibilities for that particular role. I’ve seen situations when one company may have both specialized and generalist roles.

That being said, the real question is - “Who are you? A generalist or a specialist?” Make sure you understand what you want to do for your career.

You do you.

🤔 Interesting

What’s wrong with the design industry. A rant (of sorts) about some big fundamental flaws with the overall design industry. Highly recommend reading (though it’s pretty long, 20 min), but the author highlights very complex problems. Most of those have been raised by many others (including myself), but she articulates the issues very well. You will probably want to re-read it a couple of times =) All very valid. View post.

52 Weeks of UX is one of the early unique resources I used when I was learning the basics of UX design. View website.

The importance of purpose, constraints, prioritization, and judgement when creating products. Excellent quote from Charles & Ray Eames: "...Here is one of the few effective keys to the Design problem: the ability of the Designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible; his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints. Constraints of price, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, of time, and so forth. Each problem has its own peculiar list." The article has some (potentially) trippy animations on the page =) View post.

7 simple guidelines for accessible design. A good list to start with. The title is a bit clickbaity, it’s not that simple in practice, but a goog checklist to follow. View post.

Сolour-contrast checker tool I use. My favourite of all alternatives I have used. Free. View website.

💭 A thought

It’s interesting to see how some events keep trending and how such levels of attention are foreign to me. One of the recent examples - new Google apps icons. It’s been several weeks now and I still see people complaining about them. I never understood how people keep mulling over such minor things in life. I always wonder if there are more important things to post/share online? Yes, they suck on some levels. Yes, many people will struggle (if you can call it a struggle) because it will take them 1 more second to launch their apps. I am not saying I liked this change, but let’s move on already. Just don’t get why this is such a big deal. Instead of pointing out the privacy issues that Google has, everybody is talking about their new icons? #ffs