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September 2011 Contents

UPA Job Bank

UPA 2012


The UX Planner

Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong

Daniel Szuc is a Principal Consultant at Apogee Usability Asia Ltd, based in Hong Kong, and previously worked on a usability team for Telstra Australia.

Josephine Wong is the co-founder of Apogee Usability Asia Ltd. and has been in Project Management for more than 10 years. In the past 10 years, Josephine has been practicing usability and promoting customer-centered design in both Hong Kong and China.

Business and people can suffer due to a lack of planning and vision and/or the time to dedicate to planning and vision. UX can also suffer as UX Management and teams are spread too thinly on projects where they are not providing the right value to match the available skill sets on the team. Sometimes UXers are simply working on the wrong projects. Sometimes the UX Manager has to wear a number of hats including (but not limited to) - finance, sales, people management, project management - adding to the problem.


As UX Managers, UX Teams and Project Teams look at what they want to find out through User Research, they are sometimes constrained by:

  • Their understanding and exposure to UX (What do they know)
  • Their experience in the available UX Methods (What have they done in the past)
  • Their ability to choose the right method (UX maturity)
  • The availability of the methods (UX maturity)
  • The range of people/roles/skills to talk to from other teams about how the User Research can compliment previous research or the overall product strategy (Vision)
  • The UX skills, maturity and experience on the project team (UX maturity)
  • The need to deliver results and/or the trap of "ticking a box" without understanding why (Choosing the wrong UX method)

The Problem

We see that UX teams also do not always have a dedicated person/role whose primary purpose is to help determine what the right UX approach should be for a project team (they are consulting to) through giving time and effort to UX planning.

A Possible Answer

Enter the "UX Planner." This is a different role from, say a Project Manager, who would eventually take on the "UX Plan" as outlined by the "UX Planner" to implement against. It is also different to a User Researcher or Designer who is tasked with doing the work as outlined in the "UX Plan." And different again from the UX Manager who is responsible for the UX Team Strategy.

So what should a UX Planner do?

  • Work with the Project Lead/Product Manager to understand the state of the project
  • Work with the UX Manager and UX Project Managers to understand resourcing and skills available
  • Determine the receptiveness and maturity of the Project Team to UX
  • Determine a UX education program so that the Project Team is on the same page as to what the UX team can provide
  • Work with the UX Manager to understand how a specific piece of UX work will fit into the whole UX Strategy and if it complements the UX Team's portfolio
  • Outline the catalog of UX Methods the UX Team can provide to see what would best fit the project in question
  • Be able to mix and match UX Methods for the initial project stages and also bridge this into a rolling UX Research Plan)
  • Understand the deliverables of each UX Method and know who needs to own the results in the project team to bridge into design

By giving these responsibilities to a UX Planner, it may also help the UX Manager by giving the Manager more time to focus on Strategy and overall project planning to see how UX resources are allocated more effectively in a business.

Questions for You

  • Do you think there is a role for a UX Planner?
  • What else do you think a UX Planner should be doing?
  • Is there cross over with other roles?

I look forward to hearing from you.


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