Summary: UX managers are increasingly in high demand, in fact reports indicate there are currently not enough UX managers to fill the need. For the industry, this is good news as Senior UX Designers or UX Leads look to help their organizations build UX maturity.
Understanding the driving forces behind the wave of UX manager hiring can help senior management hire or promote the right person for the job.
Here are the top 5 reasons UX managers are in demand:
1. Teams are getting bigger. Fast-growing organizations have more room for slippage: New UX desginers are added to the mix and acquisitions bring in new team tension, opportunity and constraint. The collaboration culture that UX requires means the strategic resource of a UX team needs to be tightly managed. UX teams are also finding themselves thrown into cross-functional team situations, and are being pulled in many directions. Their efforts (and sanity) need to be managed.
2. Complexity needs to be managed. UX Design continues to gain executive-level attention as a strategic asset to software development, product management and service design and delivery. Since UX works cross-platform, and cross-team, it has become essential to align with brand and customer experience efforts. New challenges continue to increase the management workload: omnichannel (cross-channel) experiences need to be coordinated; larger teams need to be cross-pollinated; new service or hybrid product-service delivery situations need to be managed.
Fast-moving UX groups are building out DesignOps and ResearchOps to formalize, operationalize, scale and provide leadership to the ongoing value that UX Research and Design brings to an organization. This needs strategic ownership and guidance.
3. UX process needs to be improved. Studies show that UX process is generally weak or broken in many organizations. Even organizations that have mature UX groups do not have consistency across the enterprise or its business units. This is highly typical with dev teams in one location and product or UX teams in another geography.
4. ROI from UX Design needs to be realized. UX management is ultimately about leveraging Human-Centered Design methodology to produce meaningful business outcomes. To know if your UX Design ROI is good, UX managers need to do more formal measurement. Measurement of UX-inspired business results need to be constantly monitored and married to all UX Design activities and initiatives.
5. UX needs to be improved. Inconsistent UI success, skunkworks UX projects, or poorly resourced efforts can lead to breakdowns: You can have a shiny new, fast car but no wheels to run it. UX Design (UI improvement) is typically the main focus of improvement in many organizations seeking to hire UX Managers. However, this is the short-sighted tactical aspect of UX Design.
While it falls under a UX Manager's role to help the team identify and fix priority UI/UX issues, a UX manager is also responsible for setting process guideposts that lead to the better making of UX Design, not just the actual making of a given UI.
UX Managers should be encouraged to build processes and systems to maintain momentum and build organizational collaboration that UX requires to survive and thrive.