game, game. repeat.

The Coming War for Design Talent

Wed 11 April 2012 #leadership


While the war rages on for software engineers, I can’t help wondering when UX, interaction designers, and product managers are going to have their turn. For a lot of software projects adding a rockstar engineer can boost productivity by more than their substantial individual contribution, but adding a rockstar designer can double a team’s output.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that 1 in 5 of a good designer’s decisions are adding value a year after they are released; let’s say a rockstar achieves 2 in 5. The team building what the rockstar designer chose are happier (more of their work has an impact), their customers are happier (better ‘awesome’ to ‘meh’ ratio for new features), and they are twice as productive as measured by value to the business.

Velocity is important, but progress in the wrong direction is only useful inasmuch as it helps you figure out the right direction. Some people guess better than others, some people know more than others, some people can read the tea leaves better than others, and all of them are going to be in increasing demand as more companies focus on the tremendous leverage of their design talent.