Sunday, March 20, 2005

Yahoo's UED Jobs

I keep tabs on jobs in my field as a way of feeling the pulse of the industry. They tell you a lot about the corporate situation and the company vision; and sometimes, if you read between the lines, you can tell how healthy their internal design and usability efforts are. Most of the hot industry jobs right now are interaction design or information architecture; there aren't that many strictly "usability evaluation" jobs now (this has been noted on a contracting mailing list I'm on as well). Except at Yahoo. They've got 36 jobs open in their User Experience Design category, which encompasses interaction design, visual design, web programming, and user research, which they are now calling "Design Research." I like this title, in that it focuses better on the deliverables and end-goal of research in usability.

Some of the key responsibilities for this role include:

  • Responsible for the user research, including planning and running usability studies, benchmark studies, competitive evaluations, participatory design sessions, ethnographic field studies, user surveys, heuristic evaluations, and similar methods.
  • Provide insight and vision for the team based on researching user needs. Convert research findings into actionable items.
  • Collaborate with other research organizations within Yahoo! (market researchers and data mining analysts) in order to create comprehensive coordinated research.
  • Synthesize research findings from other data sources (including market research and data mining) into meaningful recommendations and actionable items.

Their new corporate design mantra is "Life Engine," which you'll have to embrace to work there. It's all about integration of experience, in the face of Google's growing presence.

The VP position is most interesting and revealing (my commentary in brackets):

...A key goal for this position is to elevate the influence of the UE group to become a strategic resource. [Whoa: They aren't now. They're biting the bullet and making it a VP-level job--unless someone quit--because everyone in the industry knows user experience can't succeed as a priority without VP-level support--? But I'm a little surprised Yahoo feels this too; it must be Google nipping at their backside.]

...Ensure successful knowledge sharing and improve visual, functional, and conceptual consistency across products and components - oversee the development of design standards, guidelines, and best practices;  [Again, I always thought they were remarkably consistent and had this already. One ad says "new creative direction," so I suppose they're just worried about continuing and pulling deviant products into line.]

...Partner with Engineering on the development of new interface conventions and code libraries to ensure consistent and efficient deployment of design; [Ah, the crucial insight into why standards are hard to enforce -- the tools need to enforce them well, not a human post-design police force. This goes back to Don Norman in, like, the Stone Age, I think. But few places get it.]

....A professional manager with strong executive presence, credibility, and a reputation for unquestioned integrity and management skills that allow for instant credibility with business partners; Demonstrated ability to build strong relationships with and influence senior executives and internal clients; Degree in graphic design, human interface design, interaction design, computer science, or information design; advanced degree in these fields and/or MBA a plus. [I like this: Computer science counts too, and an MBA is an asset. And the rest: Whoever wrote this is pretty right on.]

Other places hiring widely now: Google (of course, and in multiple regions), Adobe (because of a small diaspora, I believe), Intuit (always hiring, very hard to please), Microsoft (ditto and hard to please the hiree, too), and a few design agencies like Razorfish, which is usually the best indicator that the industry is in an up-turn. You can check out the Yahoo UED job list at Yahoo! Find a Job.

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