How to get promoted to Senior User Experience Designer?

Your job title is User Experience Architect, or User Experience Designer, or Information Architect. One question on your mind is probably when will I get to be a senior? What do I have to do to get promoted to a senior?

Getting promoted or moving companies into a new position as a senior is a big step. It means that you are experienced, skilled, and a leader.

A Senior User Experience Architect

  • More than 5 years experience in UXA
  • Can lead a small temporary team, including external people
  • Well experienced with all the skills of UX
  • They have the skills and experience to support almost every one of the UX values. There might be one or two they are learning.
  • They teach and inspire others in supporting the 8 UX values.

Before you start on your journey to be a senior you need to make sure you have mastered all inner circle things. You need to then start to master the 4 things below.

Knowing the large – This means knowing what you competitors are up to (both direct and indirect) as well as how your customers are changing.  Even larger context issues such as twitter, something that just 2 years ago was just starting which is now a major force.

Discussing the different – This is the respectful voice that allows the senior to build experiences that are owned by all stakeholders. It is a difficult role, but we need to facilitate the conversation. These conversations can include external stakeholders and executive clients.

Dreaming the better – This is the ability to generate great ideas, collect them, and have them at the ready for other projects or later phases.  These is related to service design, product roadmaps, white-papers, business modeling, vision prototyping, and conceptualizing.

Measuring the impact – Seniors need to be able to predict the impact of our different recommendations.  This means watching the different metrics. Omniture, Customer Satisfaction, Search Logs, etc.

6 Responses to “How to get promoted to Senior User Experience Designer?”

  1. Gabby Hon says:

    I would adjust your list as follows:

    1) Move years of experience to last item on list — 1 year at, say, Critical Mass as an IA = 2-3 years at most interactive shops. (This, I know firsthand ;-))
    2) Decrease years of experience to 2-3. It’s not how long you’ve been doing something, it’s how much and how well you’ve been doing it.
    3) Emphasize leadership and don’t ignore how many people work in a vacuum — if you’re a one-man band and have to be PM, IA and other roles, you’ve got a lot of valuable experience.
    4) Emphasize problem solving and bridge building — how much and how well has the person made inroads to other disciplines (BFF with creative and tech teams? Awesome!) and to clients, particularly those of a reluctant-to-use-IA stripe.

  2. David Fiorito says:

    This is fantastic! So many companies struggle with career paths for UX professionals and this is such a clear and concise guide post. I hope you keep expanding this in both directions from beginner through to cUXo.


  3. admin says:

    Hi Gabby. You make some good points about the years. Different places allow some people to focus more and develop faster. When you write about decreasing the years to 2-3 are you doing that in regards to someone having a masters in interaction design or information architecture, or HCI?

  4. admin says:

    Hi David. You are right, clarity is key. If this is where we want to be driving to, lets put a big x on the spot and get there. Thanks for you comments.

  5. Gabby says:

    Nope, I’m not reducing years based on grad work — and in all honesty, except in rare cases, grad work makes people *less* employable in every day UX work. I have yet to meet a graduate of any program who emerged with skills comparable to the money they spent on the degree. (So, folks, skip grad school and start doing UX work by hook or crook on your own –it’s so much more worthwhile.) And I speak form the trad and digital agency world — it’s possible that internal IA/UX groups at large companies can put these folks to work at a senior level, but again: their needs aren’t as intense. (I’ve done enough time inside to know that much.)

    And I still think that 5 years experience to move to Senior is way too much — at 5 years, you ought to be a Lead or moving into early management roles.

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