UX team technical track

UX team technical track

This largely follows the Engineering Progression path aligning with the rest of the company with some minor recasting of the descriptions, different titles and positions. There is a forking of responsibilities at stage 4, one leading to a focus on the management of reports and teams and the other leading to architectural excellence.

UX Designer

Level: 1

  • Description: Designs features and screens that are well-defined. Communicates status and identifies blocking issues. Responds to feedback with alternative solutions, implements change requests. Generally joins with a lot of potential and energy.
  • Problem indicators: Poor design quality, inadequate attention to detail. Not self-motivated. Easily distracted. Entirely dependent on others with a disregard for team process.

UX Designer II

Level: 2

  • Description: Clarifies user needs and mental models before synthesising solutions. Breaks down large work into smaller tasks on their own. Writes complete documentation for designs/ wireframes. Can own a feature / flow of screens / layout. Can estimate, set goals, and meet them. Can provide design reviews to peers. Takes practical buildability considerations (working within patterns, templates and norms) into account. Demonstrates an understanding of the definition of done.
  • Problem indicators: Fails to identify or communicate big roadblocks. Consistently underestimates during planning. Designs without regard to user need, application consistency or our design pattern-language. Combative attitude.

Senior UX Designer

Level: 3

  • Description: Capable of owning the design / experience of a large project or product. Encourages a solid design process within their squad. UCD, research and testing, Information architecture informing UX, component and pattern led solutions, writes specifications and documentation. Communicates detail and intentions of design approach to both implementers and stakeholders. Roots designs in the triangle of business goals, technical feasibility and user-needs. They are capable of taking on lead responsibilities to drive a product to completion. Capable of representing their team as a subject-matter expert.
  • Problem indicators: Arrogant. Doesn’t delegate. Never says no. Quick to jump to solutions without consideration. Misses details. Doesn’t communicate higher-level risks (project and people risks). Ignorant of industry trends and new technologies.

Lead UX Designer

Level: 4 (equivalent to Engineering Manager)

  • Description: Everything a Senior UX Designer is plus the ability to lead multiple projects or products across squads, not focusing only on a single one. They spend a significant amount of time mentoring others and managing effective cross team and cross squad relationships. They influence others and represent technical thought leadership to customers and other engineers. Capable of representing the team they report with stakeholders and with their own team. Seen as a trusted advisor for their area of expertise within Canonical. Has a solid understanding of work/life balance. Able to represent the team at sprints.
  • Problem indicators: Focuses on creativity, visual perfection and gold-plated interaction design far beyond business needs. Fails to understand the larger company picture. Spends too much time chasing the newest “shiny” technology. Condescending.

Principal UX Designer

Level: 5 (equivalent to Engineering Director)

  • Description: Everything a Lead UX Designer is plus they can provide comprehensive UX technical leadership and direction on the process. Solve complex UX problems across squads and teams of the company. Often someone the company cannot do without because they have such a key role in company technology. Sometimes have extensive industry accomplishments.
  • Problem indicators: Not engaged by other teams, pushes opinions without solicitation. Silos on interesting but unimpactful topics. Disparaging of alternate views.

Management track

UX Manager

Level: 4

  • Description: Demonstrates the qualities of a Lead UX Designer plus manages expectations across teams and organisational boundaries. Understands that a healthy team is more valuable than being an individual rock star. Facilitates self-organising and values continuous improvement. Can help individuals identify areas of growth and guide them to improve in these areas. An excellent communicator who cares about people and understands motivations. Able to represent their product to the team and external stakeholders.
  • Problem indicators: Has individual silos on their team. Defensive posture. Reticent to change. Values heroic efforts over managed execution. Conscious of what’s being built, but not how it’s built.

Head of UX

Level: 5 (equivalent to Engineering Director)

  • Description: Everything an UX Manager is plus demonstrated ability to build high-performing teams. Mentors other managers. Trusted among their peers and has cross-team organisational influence. Can spot team health problems and indirectly address them. Can get things done across organisational boundaries without a direct reporting line. Has an understanding of commercial goals and exercises good judgement in weighing business versus engineering priorities. Uses data to inform decisions. Able to represent Canonical and their organisation. Guide the development of cohesive UX patterns, across web / applications and CLI. Promote the practical delivery of User Research systematically in our process. Mentor the skills, methods and thinking of the UX designers and others. Champion user-centred thinking: balance the needs of our users with the goals of the business and the technological opportunities and constraints. Hire the next generation of UX designers at Canonical.
  • Problem indicators: Fails to delegate. Directly manages indirect reports. Always fighting fires rather than addressing systemic problems. More interested in growing the organisation rather than improving the current organisation.

Design Director

Level: 6 (equivalent to Senior Engineering Director)

  • Description: Everything Head of UX is plus demonstrated ability to mentor other managers and build a team of teams. Organized and data-driven with an ability to cultivate management talent. Strong business acumen that allows for efficient decision-making. Demonstrates strategic awareness and considers long term consequences. Constantly balances commercial, organisational, and technical priorities to effectively support business goals.
  • Problem indicators: Drowns in a sea of details. Always reactive, demonstrating a lack of forethought. Imbalance in weighing competing priorities. Organisational friction and poor cross-team relationships. Inability to handle conflict without escalation. Not aware of business consequences for technical decisions.
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