Is UX Design Management the Right Path for You?

Learn if design management is the right step for you and what you can expect from a management role in UX design.

As user experience (UX) designers consider their long-term career goals, some assume that management is the obvious next step. It’s true that the best managers usually have a background in the field they manage. But management also requires skills for which designers aren’t often trained, including leadership, time management, budgeting and interpersonal skills. Not every talented designer is a good fit as a manager, but for the right person, UX design management can be an immensely rewarding and satisfying career path.

Why Is UX Design Management Important?

Experienced UX designers know how to design to suit the needs of the end user—but what about the needs of the organization and its stakeholders? That’s where UX design management comes in.

To guide a design team, design managers must think strategically, approach design intentionally, and understand the big-picture needs and goals of the organization. Some of that guidance can lead to internal improvements, such as boosting the efficiency of the design process and making the best use of a company’s resources. A UX design manager also ensures that the team’s design work represents a company’s brand and stands out against the competition.

A good UX design manager encourages brand stewardship and compliance.

An effective UX design manager supports the design team, inspiring their best work and ensuring they have what they need to succeed. In addition, because of the collaborative nature of user interface design, the best UX design managers develop relationships with other teams in the company. For example, it’s vitally important that UX designers and content strategists work well together.

An effective manager inspires their team’s best work and ensures they have what they need to succeed.

With a good UX design manager at the helm, a design team will communicate well, operate smoothly and produce high-quality, targeted products.

What Does a UX Design Manager Do?

UX design managers employ the skills of both user interface designers and managers, often weighted more heavily on the management side. If you’ve ever held (and enjoyed!) a management position, you might find that UX design management is a good fit—good core management skills are applicable across fields.

Design managers may work in research and development, marketing, or corporate communications depending on the business and design needs.

Is UX Design Management the Right Path for You infographic

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He is an Associate Professor in the Evaluation and Measurement program within the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University. He is also the program coordinator for the online Master of Education degree in Research, Measurement, and Statistics.
Dr. Astrid N. Sambolín Morales is an Assistant Professor in Kent State Online’s 100% Online Master of Education degree in Cultural Foundations. She received her PhD in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity from the University of Colorado Boulder and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research provides a more nuanced picture of the agency, resistance, and empowerment enacted by displaced Puerto Rican m(others) in the U.S., and her work was funded by several grants, including the University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center, the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education, the URBAN Research Network, and the NAEd Spencer Foundation.
Felesia McDonald, ’14 is an adjunct instructor in the iSchool, teaching courses in the 100% Online Master of Science in User Experience. McDonald is also the Sr Manager UX Design at Optum, a branch of UnitedHealth Group.