I joined Emarsys not just to lead its UX team, but also to establish the team and introduce the design practice into product development. Before I joined Emarsys didn’t have a dedicated UX team, they worked with contractors and agencies. Product managers did some user research and mockups for their features. Even with the company’s openness towards UX and committed leadership, creating the team and injecting design into the development process was a great challenge.

emarsys ux team 2017 working with design thinking methods emarsys ux team intro video 2015
People are the most important part of a great UX team

I had three basic ideas on how to establish the team.

  1. Apply the Lean UX mindset to everything we do, so experiment and learn what the organization needs to bring the product forward.
  2. Establish researcher - designer pairs based on the pair design practice by Cooper.
  3. Make product teams superheroes by embedding UX people with devs and PMs (the talk I did when introducing this).

Starting with 2 people and hiring 14 more since then, we had been working on most of the product. I also established key design practices (with the support of my awesome team): design studios, critiques, frequent interviews and tests, design briefs, principles, remote design feedback over Invision, user story maps, design sprints, a design system. While doing this I learned, an organization is very similar to the product: you have to understand the needs and pain points of users (the rest of the organization) to create the best solutions.