How to lose a designer in 10 days (proven to work!!)

OK, this is admittedly a bit snarky (ha!) but I couldn’t resist writing this up, after reflecting lately on my career thus far and the various shifts/changes along the way across companies. What are the common qualities that turn a job into something unpalatable for UI designers, driving them away even and souring those initially high-flying hopes/dreams? Here’s a sampling of issues, in no particular order.


** Immediate focus on “fixing the spec” for an already insane (or is it asinine?) coding schedule, rather than a collaborative approach of iterating designs, outside of the release cycle.

** Tedious, crowded review process with excessive mix of hoops and ladders (and too many reviewers in the mix). No clear distinction of owners, approvers, etc.

** The product manager doesn’t even know his own requirements or the customer-based rationale for a feature, when called on it. (yes, this has happened to me!)

** Meandering team meetings (Dev, QA, Doc, PM, etc.) with no agenda or focus, or takeaway action items, much less any resolution of project issues.

** Obfuscation of intention through senseless “corporate speak” (alphabet soup of acronyms, etc.) reflecting legacy thinking and irrelevant attitudes.

** A process (and culture) predicated upon excessive documentation, rather than fluid innovation and design-driven conversations.

** Put the designer on a project that is under her skill level or (worse) on a project that nobody wants because it’s a known disaster (poor coordination, scheduling, expectations management, assumptions muddied, etc.) that “has to be done” b/c of

** Have the designer spend more time documenting and analyzing rather than sketching, brainstorming, designing. Disproportionate balance of logical/emotional activities.


This may all seem pretty grim and depressing, but hopefully this provokes discussion amid the industry of how to properly set up a newly hired designer for long-term success, beyond the initial “honeymoon period” towards becoming a valued resource and truly loyal advocate for sustaining/growing the organizational culture.

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