Story: Bring a friend

This “Story” series came from our discussion last month about Positive examples of UX and FOSS The goal is for folks to post stories of work where UX went well. The goal being to collect a range of successful techniques so we can share as a community what has worked.

This first story is a simple one, and maybe a bit obvious. I was working at working on an open source version of Google Docs, using the shiny new CRDT tech. I was brought in as the tech lead had asked for a single UX designer (always a good sign) but through a strange set of circumstances, TWO UX designers were brought onboard. This turned out to be very helpful.

Two designers are so much more productive than one. It is just so much faster to brainstorm early ideas, critique each others work, and generally improve designs before showing it to others. In my experience, UX designers are willing to show and discuss very rough work. This can get us into trouble as people keep thinking it is EXACTLY what we want. UX designers prototype, proposing rough ideas and changing their opinions quickly. This can be very confusing to the more technically minded. This ability to work through our concepts, refining and changing them quickly was very helpful and allowed us to present more mature work to the team, minimizing feedback loops.

In addition, having another voice in the room was helpful when the team discussed the product. The tech lead, even though they did ask for a UX designer, still had a very ‘I’m the user’ approach to the problem. By having two UX designers in the room, there were twice as many people chiming into the discussion which made it easier to discuss tricky issues.

Having two UX designers more than doubles the output, It’s not that you can’t be solo UX designer! It’s just much easier if you bring a friend.


Thanks for sharing the story, @scottjenson, really inspiring!

I think having a second voice, a second brain, and a second pair of hands is a great idea, especially if you have a certain synergy that allows you to not only split the workload, but complement each other’s strengths.

In case of an open source, it can be a great learning playground as well. If one of the two is a strong design systems specialist, and the other is better at research, I would suggest them to swap and learn from each other: given that they don’t have any business constraints or strict delivery timelines, they’ve got a great opportunity to learn a new skill!

We’ve started doing this with an ex-colleague of mine at Formbricks: as I was planning how to kick-start the design process, he was proofreading, helping analyse the insights, etc.

Having 2 people, as long as they understand and respect each other, is awesome. And fun!