Starting a new year means you’re likely making both personal and professional resolutions for the months ahead. If you’re considering expanding your UX team into a full-sized design practice—whether that means building a team in-house or starting your own firm from scratch—it’s important to keep in mind some basic principles when getting started. Keeping these concepts top of mind during the growth and execution phase of your practice can help ensure your 2018 goal becomes a reality.

Define your scope.

The UX world is wide and growing wider everyday. Increasingly user experience professionals are expected to tackle nearly every facet of the design process, from ideation and user research to wireframing and prototyping.

In some cases, clients or managers may expect the UX team to tackle adjacent projects like visual and web design or content strategy. When starting your own UX practice, it’s important to remember that firms or teams that overpromise and underdeliver rarely thrive.

Rather than committing to every UX-related specialty, decide the areas of user experience design and research that appeal to you and highlight your team’s strengths. You’ll likely be more successful with a narrower scope than with a jack-of-all-trades approach.

Search within your networks.

When developing your team, you may already have ideal candidates for particular roles. But if you’re struggling to find the perfect fit for a particular specialty, consult your existing professional networks.

Since the UX field is growing so quickly, your colleagues and friends likely know a trusted co-worker who may be looking for new opportunities. The same principle holds true for developing your first clients or projects if you are starting an independent UX practice.

People who are already familiar with your work and your specialization will be more likely to give you business, which can generate a steady stream of word-of-mouth clients to help get your practice off the ground.

Develop a collaborative process.

It goes without saying that the best teams learn how to function collaboratively, respectfully, and creatively to execute great work. Yet truly successful teams not only collaborate well but ensure that collaboration becomes a process that can be repeated over and over again with positive results.

Creating a process out of daily routines isn’t always the easiest step. It requires a thorough, top-down look at what’s working and what’s not within your team followed by a comprehensive documentation of how your team should work moving forward. But when done right, creating a workable process ensures that no matter who you add or remove from your team, you can get the work done on time and within requirements.

You may not be able to create a working process right away while your UX practice gets off the ground. But within a few months of consistent projects, you’ll see what’s working and what needs to be fixed in your workflow. This is the perfect time to take a step back, assess, and begin to create a workable framework for the future.

When in doubt, turn to a professional.

As your UX practice grows, there will come a time when you’ll need to fill a complex role. Whether it’s an upper-level management position which requires extensive experience in a particular specialty or the perfect entry or mid-level employee who can hit the ground running, you may find it difficult to source the right candidate through your usual channels.

In this case, we recommend seeking out recruiting specialists who understand the UX field and have access to a pool of experienced candidates that your own networks may not know. By turning to a recruiter who truly understands the UX field—rather than a generalist recruitment firm or hiring website—you’re more likely to find pre-vetted and qualified candidates while saving yourself the time and aggravation of scouting out talent on your own.

2018 could be your year to begin a new UX practice, whether it’s internal or client-facing, while expanding your team and sharpening your specialization. We wish you luck as you embark on your new venture!

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