UX Managers, Here is your 7-Step Action Plan for Career Growth in 2016

You deserve a promotion. You’ve worked hard all year, put in long hours, met with clients, come up with amazing design solutions to interface problems.  Here are a few tips on how to get that promotion you’ve been hoping for. The tips range from field-related advice, networking, personal care and development. Follow this 7 step plan to meet your career goals in 2016.

1. Create a Personal Website to Showcase your Work

A personal website is a powerful form of personal branding. It is essentially your three dimensional CV, unconstrained by the bullet points of the traditional medium. This website is also your online portfolio where you can showcase your creative work. There are a number of free website-building sites, like WIX and WordPress, and free sites specifically for portfolio-building, like Behance.  

2. Flex your Creative Muscles using Fun Exercises

Stay on top of your game through game-storming and creative exercises. Get your team together, set a time limit, and go wild with creative tasks that gets your mind thinking outside the box. Need inspiration? Try the “prison cake care package” exercise. Each person imagines a loved one in prison that they’re set on helping break free. Small problem though: no contraband allowed in this prison. The one exception: a homemade cake. Your team has three minutes to list as many tools as possible that would fit into a cake that would help the prisoner escape.  

3. Integrate Mico-Copy into your work

Much like micro-content, micro-copy is a UX technique that uses short, concise sentences or words to provide just-in-time clear instructions for users. Micro-copy refers to instructional text, field labels, error messaging, dropdowns and confirmations. Figure out how to you can incorporate micro-copy into your website or application through usability testing. Your users will tell you how they describe the actions they’d like to take and what the language and tone should be.

4. Discover New UX Technologies

Since UX design improves how we interact with the digital world, leveraging technology further enhances the user experience. Though there are a plethora of options, these 3 technologies are worth exploring: ^ WalkMe provides you with a variety of interactive on-screen guidance tools that assist your users in easily completing even the most complex tasks. Your users will receive clear on-screen instructions as they perform work processes, from start to finish. Think of it as if you’re sitting right next to your users, personally guiding them through each task, step-by-step, on any site platform. ^ Woopra provides you with a comprehensive user profile tracking all activity, even for anonymous users. Observing how customers interact with your product, is the first step in improving user experience. ^ MouseStats allows you to watch the users’ mouse movements. Learn where your user likes to hang out on your site and where they get lost. This provides you with usability assessment of your product.  

5. Apply Your UX Talents to Different Fields

Use your UX talents across a variety of departments, not just the immediate department that you’re in. Try to think how you can influence your organization in every field. If you’re UXing within the Product Department, think about how you can help the Marketing Department? Can you review Sales presentations and make sure they’re user/observer oriented?  

6. Incorporate Your Passions into your UX

Find what and who inspires you and build it into your work. If you’re interested in scuba diving, take a lesson and see how the fluidity of water can translate onscreen into your work flow. Is your heart in a certain social cause, like animal rights or child welfare? Include a link to a well-known NGO from the website to get them some extra traffic and publicity. Love foreign languages? Note how nuances of words change the interpretation of your messaging.  

7. Step out of your Comfort Zone Once a Day

Identify your boundaries and choose a new technique to tackle.  Dive in head first and work your way through potential failures to create a new design. Choose two to three designs to explore. Don’t aim to be radically different from your design technique now. Aim for attainable goals, such as working with a new color palette, or conceptual illustration for a homepage — these challenges should provoke innovation while perfecting your current skill set.  Are you used to design with your team? Go out and try a participatory design session with a selection of your users. Challenge yourself outside your comfort zone. Present your creativity and determination and your success will shine through. And most importantly, test early and test often.   Now, for those readers who have read this until the end, I’d like to share with you a cause that is very close to my heart. Broadway Cares is an organization that helps to mitigate the suffering of people with AIDS and other critical illnesses by providing essential services and raising awareness. If you’re interested, check them out and see how you can help.
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com