Lead Experience Architect

| Greater Denver Area
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 “I’ve got a lot of balls in the air” was the honest answer to my boss’s question, “So, how’s life as a new LXA treating you?” I started at EffectiveUI in the spring of 2013 as a UX designer. I was promoted to Sr. UXD within the year and made the jump to LXA in the fall of 2014.

A Lead Experience Architect (LXA) is the internal design team lead on any given project at EffectiveUI and it is one of two design tracks you can take from Sr. UXD. In a nutshell, it’s the more client-facing of the two. The other track is for those who want to go deep in an area of expertise (e.g. become the Android SME). Choosing the LXA route seemed like a no-brainer for me. As a people-person at heart, wading into the complexity of internal and client relationships felt up my alley.

And my boss told me I was ready. Ready for what, exactly, I didn’t quite know. Anyone will tell you — the LXA role is a bit cryptic. It’s like you can never quite describe it, but you know it when you see it. Much of this, I’m told, is because it requires innate soft-skills that are tough to put in a job description or look for in an interview. For example, the ability to read a room. Or have a challenging conversation.

Despite the reassurance I received, I couldn’t help but feel I was venturing into a mythical space where all I had were my God-given instincts to rely on. No amount of annotated wireframes and design comps could save me now. I wanted so bad to succeed but there was definitely some self-doubt. And then one day, a few months in, I recall thinking to myself, “Wait a minute, I think I’m doing it. I’m LXA-ing!”

Now that’s not to say it was a breeze by any stretch of the imagination. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s the perpetual state of one too many balls in the air. Even a year and a half later, I still wrestle with this feeling. The difference is I am now better able to identify which ball to let momentarily drop. And which ball to toss someone else’s way. That really is the rabbit in the hat. As an LXA, you have to get comfortable with the fact that you can’t do it all — a horribly uncomfortable feeling. And that’s why prioritization and delegation become your two very best friends. And for someone like myself, who’s the perfect blend of over-achiever and perfectionist, the ability to let things slide and hand things off took some practice.

Prioritization

On any given day, my to-do list will be chock full, from following up with a client about an issue and preparing for an important stakeholder presentation to reviewing the latest iteration of design comps and facilitating a sketching session to an internal project plan meeting and a check-in with the director of UX. And that doesn’t account for all the to-dos that pop up throughout the day. A constant assessment of tasks and priorities is important, but identifying where I should spend my time versus where I could spend my time is the key. In other words, I need to take on the shoulds and delegate the coulds.

Delegation

So much easier said then done. I’m embarrassed to admit the amount of times I’ve had to fight the “just give it to me and I’ll finish it” urge. That’s what we at EffectiveUI refer to as “being the hero” and it’s not revered. I’ve learned that trusting teammates to produce high-quality work, even if their process differs from mine, is paramount to not only my sanity but to the success of any project. And I’ve had to learn that trust can be broken. There are times I’ve delegated and I’ve been let down. But keeping the faith, despite past disappointments, is what’s important.

Grace

Now it’s one thing to juggle a lot of balls but it’s a whole different ballgame to juggle them gracefully. In other words, if prioritization and delegation are the LXA cake, grace is the frosting. And no cake’s quite as sweet without it. I’m an emotions-on-my-sleeve kinda gal and being in a leadership role has made me acutely aware of the effect those emotions can have on a team. There’s a whole new responsibility that accompanies your stress, frustration, anxiety, you name it, as an LXA (and trust me when I say there’s a fair amount of it). It’s now your job to employ your emotions tactfully, shielding the team when necessary to protect productivity and morale and at other times, thoughtfully clueing them in so they feel there’s team transparency. It’s an art form — one I’ll surely be studying so long as I’m LXA-ing.

So I still can’t tell you exactly how to be an LXA, as I’m still very much on the journey to figure that out myself, but what I can tell you is this: if you want to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and stretch yourself, not only as a designer, but as a person, a peer, a mentor, a strategist, a researcher, a communicator, a doer, and a delegator, this role might just be for you. 

Desired Skills and Experience

A lead experience architect (LXA) is responsible for facilitating, generating and executing great user experiences for our clients and their end users. Acting as a coach, mentor and lead for both internal teams as well as an advocate for our clients’ needs, a lead experience architect is a true veteran of human-centered design, interaction design and design research – and still in love with getting their hands dirty.

  • User experience planning and development
  • Responsible for the execution of strong interaction design and visual design principles
  • Facilitating dialog around end-user requirements and business requirements
  • Guiding clients through key design engagements
  • Performing user research
  • Driving innovative solutions within platform constraints and technical limitations
  • Developing interaction models and conceptual frameworks of experience
  • Researching interaction design trends
  • Researching technology trends
  • Performing other duties as assigned

ROLE REQUIREMENTS

  • Five or more years of user experience design experience for software, Web applications, consumer electronics and/or mobile devices
  • Strong conceptualization ability and strong visual communication ability
  • Exceptional design skills, production value and attention to detail
  • Strong working knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Fireworks and associated design tools
  • Extensive experience with user interface design patterns and standard UCD methodologies across multiple platforms
  • Clear leadership skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong client-facing presentation and communication skills
  • Strong understanding of common software project management practices
  • Strong understanding of common software development practices
  • Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree in interaction design, new media design, industrial design, HCI, human factors/ergonomics or related field
  • Background check and reference checks required upon hire

ADDITIONAL

  • Note: The job title, description and role requirements for this position are subject to change without notice.
  • Currently, EffectiveUI does not offer employment-based visa sponsorship.
  • EffectiveUI is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
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