UX to Developer ratio

18 Mar 2010 - 6:47pm
4 years ago
6 replies
2417 reads
Archana
2010

What is the ratio of UX individuals to developers in your organizations? I realize that the timeline of a given project, size of the project etc has an effect on this number. I just want to get a general idea of the trend of this ratio today. Further, what do you think it should be? If you could mention the size of your company, that would give me a  better idea too.

Comments

19 Mar 2010 - 6:54am
Chris Collingridge
2007

From an agile development perspective, the key thing from my perspective is a collaborative and generalist team. While some organisations have a Usability or UX department or business function that acts in a consultancy role, ours does not. Usability-trained people are embedded with development teams (or at least, teams undertaking the most "risky" activities), but the single most important thing is to educate, empower, and assist everyone in the team - developers very much included - to focus on delivering a great user experience.

So in terms of a ratio - I'd say you probably need 80% of everyone on the team to be actively involved in UX activities, with allowance for a few people who maybe just concentrate on under-the-hood technicalities and nothing else. Depending on the kind of people you have, their experience, and attitude, you may need many or few specialist UX people to make this happen....

19 Mar 2010 - 6:33pm
smag
2010

I've worked in hades, and I've worked in halcyon. I would say that I and the business were happiest with a ratio of about 3-4 software engineers per UX professional, plus one product manager, and a user research specialist (either full time or 50%). When there are 40-50 software engineers per UX designer, what happens is that SWE's are itching to get their code launched, and they perceive the UX designer as an impediment (rightly). If the ratio is 1:1, what happens is that the UX designer gets way out ahead, and is designing UI's that are 3 sprints down the road, and is starting to teach himself to code various pieces of the software. If I had to choose, I'd opt of for the 1:1 ratio. UX designers are most valuable when they reach out across the aisle and learn to become generalizing specialists. Part UX designer, part developer, visual designer, product manager, and scrum master.

22 Mar 2010 - 9:57am
ray.dahl
2010

Our organization has just recently invested in a full-time UX role so we are still working through what it means to have a usability professional in the house.   My current situation is 1UX (me) to 50+ developers.  The projects that have gone best are the ones where I am embedded with the developers.  Participate in the daily stand ups and when needed sit with the developers to work through design/coding concerns.  On other projects where I have been used as a "consultant" I think the developers see me as an impediment to progress.  That said most of the project managers that I have woked with are very excited about having access to a usability person.  I am spending about equal ammounts of time promoting, educating and designing. 

22 Mar 2010 - 10:54am
Jennifer Wolfgang
2010

I tend to think my organization may be an outlier in your research, but perhaps it will help to round your answers out.

Though we are a large software company, we barely have a team to support our website; we're very far behind the curve in this respect, I suspect. So, I am the only UX person, and though similar in many ways to Ray, we have only a handful of developers: 2 (soon to be 3) full time devs + one dev manager (not a programmer). We have better luck getting new developers on staff than UX (I've been here over a year and have been told that it will probably be a long time before they resource any more UX). Also, let me add that "UX" for us means... Web designer, IA, and any other number of roles. I represent it all. (We have no web designers.)

Good luck!

24 Mar 2010 - 9:08am
Leon Barnard
2008

I agree with smag that 1 IxD per 3-5 developers is a "happy" ratio. I would clarify that it should refer only to UI/front-end developers, since they are the ones working with the Interaction Designer most closely. So 8 developers, say, for each IxD would be fine, so long as about half of them weren't working on anything UI-related.

26 Mar 2010 - 4:21pm
Archana Thiagarajan
2008

Thank you all for the super valuable feedback. Thanks to this discussion I was able to get my VP to agree that we needed more open heads on my team :). 
-Archana
On Mar 24, 2010, at 12:17 PM, Leon Barnard wrote:

I agree with smag that 1 IxD per 3-5 developers is a "happy" ratio. I would  
clarify that it should refer only to UI/front-end developers, since they are  
the ones working with the Interaction Designer most closely. So 8 developers,  
say, for each IxD would be fine, so long as about half of them weren't  
working on anything UI-related.

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