Writing

January, 2024

What’s The Role of a Head of UX?

Including UX Director

In organisation structures, “Head of” is a role equivalent to a “Director”, but more inclusive. In any professional field there can be many directors, but there can be only one “Head of”.

It is a unifying role that binds the director tasks to one person. (Responsibilities for each team may still be shared among other UX Directors, which share the same tasks and responsibilities within a larger organisation structure that employs several design teams.) Of course, in a smaller organisation with a single UX- or design team, the Head of UX can be simply the UX Director.

The Head of UX has oversight over various design teams (or a single UX team), including positions like UX Directors, UX Architects, UX Designers, UX Researchers and UX Consultants – it all depends on the scale and proportion of design operations within the organisation.

The job of the Head of UX is to keep processes and methodologies aligned with an organisation-wide structure, which translates the company’s overall design goals (overseen by the CDO, the Chief Design Officer). This means the Head of UX role is more about how things are done in UX Design within the organisation and less about what is done in terms of the overal design strategy and direction.

Ideally, all people working in design fields contribute to the development and implementation of organisation-wide processes, methods, design systems, etc. All of this together, the processes and methodologies, the experienced gathered through doing and through thinking will lead to a more unified design approach across the organisation, which saves time, money and leads to a more directed and efficient result.

The following are responsibilities and requirements I see for this role:

Responsibilities

  • Team management
  • Lead of UX team leaders
  • Hiring new talent for design teams
  • Design teams unification
  • Talent coaching and development
  • Client needs evaluation
  • Client consultation
  • Client presentations
  • Contributes to, develops UX strategy
  • Vision and conceptual design direction
  • Business scope and goal evaluation
  • Customer research
  • Competitor research
  • UX research analysis
  • Keeping the project within budget and time constraints

Requirements

  • Higher education with degree in design, computer science or equivalent in experience
  • Minimum of four years leadership experience
  • Strong creative and visionary skills
  • Experience with software product design, user experience, user interface
  • Up-to-date knowledge of current technologies, systems, methods, patterns and tools
  • Excellence in leadership, organisation and analytical skills
  • Great communication and collaboration skills
  • Ability to resolve complex design and communication issues

Related or Similar Roles

Hiring Mistakes

Resist the temptation to select only people from the top crop of applicants. Only because these candidates check off on every point of your requirements and have a degree from a prestigious university, they are not necessarily your best option. For a guiding UX role, someone with an ability to learn and adapt, who possesses a sense for strategic thinking and who is great in communication, may serve you better than a candidate that looks perfect on paper.

It’s great if you find someone who has experience in research, workshops, studies, analysis, user journeys, user flows and prototyping. But you’re not looking for a UX designer or UX consultant, you are trying to find someone who can lead, with a sense for strategy and the bigger picture. Trying to find someone who can lead but is also “hands on” will ultimately result in disappointments.