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The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide

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The User Experience Team of One prescribes a range of approaches that have big impact and take less time and fewer resources than the standard lineup of UX deliverables. Whether you want to cross over into user experience or you're a seasoned practitioner trying to drag your organization forward, this book gives you tools and insight for doing more with less.

264 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2013

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Leah Buley

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5 stars
571 (42%)
4 stars
530 (39%)
3 stars
215 (15%)
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33 (2%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 94 reviews
Profile Image for Dani Shuping.
572 reviews42 followers
December 21, 2013
Review copy provided by O'Reilly Press

There are plenty of books on user experience, heck there are probably 5 more being written right now. So why should you read Leah Buley's "The User Experience Team of One?" Not only is this a well written book, but Leah also fills a current void in the UX literature, which is some of the challenges that someone might face trying to start a UX program at their POW. Leah not only answers addresses this challenge, but also provides a solid framework of how to construct a plan, gain support from your colleagues, and how to show management that this is a worthwhile pursuit.

This book is dived up into two primary sections: philosophy and practice. The philosophy section is relatively short and provides a solid foundation for those just beginning to work with UX. This section walks us through the history of UX (tracing it back to the 18th century), the theory and philosophy of UX, and how to grow your career within the UX field.

The primary bulk of the book however, is devoted to putting UX into practice. Leah walks through some basic tools of the UX trade. While none of them are covered in depth, it does give a good basic understanding of how a tool works, such as the different types of surveys that might be conducted. What is even more important to me however, is that Leah doesn't just focus on UX as being a webdesign only tool. Instead she offers tips and advice that can be used for any project, including redesigning an office space or even just the layout of computers. She also offers good practical advice on how to administer these tips and tricks remotely, which is important if you're part of a larger company or offering your services to clients in different states.

As I mentioned above, Leah offers good advice on how to get buy in from the rest of the organization, which is often the biggest challenge in the UX world. She offers great advice on how to explain UX and immerse folks in the process from the beginning to help build support.

If you're interested in UX or already involved in the field, this is a good resource to have handy. While some of what's offered might be old hat to seasoned professionals, I'm willing to bet that Leah offers some new ideas to put into practice. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars, and it definitely has a place on my shelf.
Profile Image for Graham Herrli.
96 reviews66 followers
September 11, 2016
Five of the ten chapters of this book are largely theoretical and aimed at people who don't know much about UX design. I didn't find these to be particularly useful.

The remaining chapters contain a mix of lightweight, collaborative methods aimed at getting the wider development team involved in UX design. In some cases, these methods were patently obvious (e.g. wireframes; did you know you can review wireframes with your team?), but in others they were useful outlines of quick ways to increase stakeholder involvement. For example, a "black hat session" is something I've heard of, but never used, and this book provides the key things I need to know to try one out. I'm also interested in using a physical sketchboard as a way of soliciting feedback about many variations of ideas along a flow. (Each method summary provides just enough information to get up and running: when to use it, how long it takes, overall steps to using it, and a few tips for making it successful.)
Profile Image for Ryan Boone.
15 reviews5 followers
April 6, 2015
A great handbook for the lone UXer

Leah has written what equates to a UX survival guide in The User Experience Team of One. Being in this position at my current place of employment, this book has empowered me to go forth and do more with what I have. This book is perfect for lone UXers and those who are just thinking of getting into the user experience field. Buy the ebook version so you'll always have an easily searchable copy. Buy the physical version because the Rosenfeld books are gorgeous.
January 6, 2020
A very practical book! It isn't the most informative in terms of concept and theory but is helpful in providing methods and techniques to implement at different stages of projects. A useful guide when you don't know when/where to start something.
Profile Image for Lee Gingras.
298 reviews12 followers
July 12, 2014
One of the best UX primers I've read, and well-targeted at the wide market of people who have to do a little UX or go it alone. It does a good job of getting out of the "by-UX for-UX" echo chamber. Too bad it seems to be out of print - the digital version is still available, of course, but it makes it harder for me to recommend it to my students.
Profile Image for Celena.
107 reviews
September 24, 2017
This is really a very practical no-nonsense guide for sole UI/UX designers in a corporation! The best for me were the possible ways that I can get feedback on my work without having to spend too much time and energy.
Profile Image for Khai Sheng.
89 reviews22 followers
May 30, 2021
It's refreshing to read a UX book that considers organizational constraints around UX work. Not every organization is ready to invest in UX, that's the hard truth, and this book acknowledges that.

I really enjoyed the use of frameworks with creative twists to get around these constraints. It's encouraging to read advice and know that there's a good chance you can still apply it.
59 reviews2 followers
March 10, 2021
Overall, this is helpful and insight reference. It was written from someone who has clearly learned to excel in the role of doing UX solo. I could see it as essential reading for all senior UXers since most arrive at an organization without much support.

The most useful part for me was Chapter 5 about "Planning and Discovery Methods" because of the details provided on getting strategic questions answered. Everything else was still a good refresher. Would recommend to anyone who has been working as an intermediate level UX designer or higher.
Profile Image for Niklas.
41 reviews7 followers
November 14, 2022
Dieses Buch hätte ich am Anfang meiner Karriere lesen sollen. Jetzt ist es „nur noch“ ein Buchtipp.
Für Leute, die schon ein paar Jahre als UX Designer arbeiten, ist es ein gutes Nachschlagewerk. Ich habe mir sogar ein paar Stellen markiert, die bekannte Methoden besser erklärt haben.
Profile Image for Maria Lasprilla.
63 reviews13 followers
January 27, 2018
I started reading this book when we were a small team of product managers and product designers in the job. Often finding myself stuck in how to go on about a problem, and seeing that product designers were always full of work, I wanted to learn some more specific things about UX that I could apply myself to help move forward things without waiting for someone who already knew how to do it. Doing research, sketching ideas, presenting results.

Suddenly the team around me started growing really fast, and very talented people were coming in to tackle the problems faster than it would have taken me to learn the best techniques to do it myself, so I abandoned it temporarily and focused on learning on the job, from real practice.

I am glad I came back to the book. While I don't have the same urgency I did when I first chose it, I discovered the book is like a small treasure (or cheat sheet) that comprises a ton of practical techniques to do UX work, from problem definition, to delivering results. When I finished it, I immediately found myself applying at least three of the techniques, giving some of my work more meaning and structure than it had before I knew about them.

I am not a team of one. In fact, I think I am part of a privileged group that gets to work with people who have very clearly defined roles inside of the different areas that entail product (researchers, designers, data analysts). But I still benefited a lot from this publication. If you're starting in product management or UX design, it will be really useful to get an overview and tips of how to go about certain things. If you're experienced in this area, it can be a good way of getting an overview of big part of what your job entails and perhaps refresh some of the areas or skills you might have unintentionally let to rust or gather dust.
Profile Image for J.
170 reviews7 followers
June 3, 2014
This book presents a very structured and stylized approach to web design with an entire focus on the user experience. It's also a sort of hand-guide on how to deal with setting up the "UX" strategies it endorses and how to operate as a single man driving force for those same strategies.

The book rightly assumes that many web designers and professionals who find themselves suddenly behind the wheel of a design team in charge of web development, are often clueless about how to go about structuring their decisions and plans for the website.

The author advocates UX as the best and really only choice moving forward. In this regard it comes on a bit strong. The overtone doesn't come across as helpful and suggestive, but demanding and imperative. There is NO other way but UX. Convert to UX. Teach others about UX. Get other people to believe in UX.

It feels a touch like the ramblings of a zealot.

It does paint a clear picture despite it's adamant presentation and the picture reveals a clear path to follow for one who chooses to use these tools to their advantage. There are a lot of knowledge pebbles lying along that path which could be snatched up and used by people who don't totally buy into the full on immersion, but it's up to the reader to figure out how they can use them as the book doesn't give the best advice on how to only partially apply the tactics.
Profile Image for Leslie Liu.
29 reviews
January 12, 2015
This is a book with a lot information about how to implement UX when there is just one UX designer in a company. The book was well-structure and has a clear introduction of many UX methods. I think some of them are quite useful and are able to make an individual more clear of what to do under various circumstances. You may also use it as a reference book, if necessary.
June 29, 2021
First half has amazing approaches to adding UX value into your workplace where you dont have the scope to implement a full human centered approach. A great read for all designers for surviving and finding a framework to work into your process and guide you.
Profile Image for Davood Torabzadeh.
20 reviews12 followers
August 28, 2014
I don't like this book, It just tells you methods without any path or direction. It's a UX Methos reference
Profile Image for Norman.
423 reviews1 follower
June 21, 2018
A great book full of ideas to use in User Experience work.
10 reviews
April 23, 2018
UX, while less new than many thing, is still a field where it feels really hard to grasp the basic concepts and get a good overview of what the field has to offer. This can be incredibly frustrating for newbies getting into the field (I fall in the first category), experienced UX designers attempting to get others onboard, and UX skeptics who don't understand the value or resources needed for the field.

As someone who wanted to get a better idea of the field for a career change, I was looking for a book that would provide a comprehensive overview of the UX field, especially since many places don't have an established UX system. For me, the User Experience Team of One was exactly the resource I was looking for. It provided and overview of the field, ways to advance personally and professionally, and most important - it also talked about how to advocate within your role if you are the sole UX Designer in an organization.

The main chapters which talk about design, research, and testing methodologies among other topics, also provide helpful tips for remote workers, ways that you can bring your coworkers into the UX design process, and a "if you only do one thing" section for the time-pressed professional.

I took off one star due to the fact that the book unfortunately is very small, leading to many of the images being incredibly tiny and hard to read. It makes a nice, light book for my train ride, but hard to read in practice.

Overall, if you only do one thing when trying to get an overview of UX.... read this book.
Profile Image for Ilinalta.
157 reviews6 followers
September 22, 2018
This was highly recommended for people in the same position as me. After reading the book, I can see why. The first half of this book talked about what to do in the position of being the solo UXer in the company. How to speak to people to get them onboard with better ux, how to sell ux to the stakeholders and etc. I found the first half to be very helpful.

The second half of the book talks about the different techniques used for user research, gathering requirements, etc. I found this section to be more reference material than anything else. It creates a situation where you want to keep this book around for inspiration during times of blockage. And if you ever lose sight of your ways, the first half of the book is a great reminder of what to do about it.
Profile Image for Vytas Ramanauskas.
57 reviews3 followers
June 8, 2020
Leah Buley wrote an outstanding and resourceful book on the basics of the User Experience, and how to apply if you work as a solo UX'er in your organization. I have never thought this can be a problem until I started to work as a 'UX team of one' in the bank. She writes about the main methods for discovery, research, design, and lastly- how to perform evangelism in your organization to build the right relationships for your future UX work. Totally recommend for anyone who works as a solo designer in any kind of organization, or for anyone who is just starting (or about to start) in the field of the User Experience.
Profile Image for Chesco.
54 reviews32 followers
May 5, 2020
Very interesting approach for getting started in the UX world! It focuses on both forming the reader with a set of pretty well defined tools, also explaining when to use them and when not to.

It can teach some methods to an experienced UX designer too, or expand their knowledge, although many of them are well known.

I love that it included a "if you are remote..." section at every tool.

Very recommended for a UX-curious professional in any field, or beginner UX designers. Moderately recommended for experienced designers, to maybe discover new tools.
August 17, 2017
For freelance UX practitioners who are starting to confront design projects alone, this book is still a must. Today there is much more literature online than when it was first published, but take into account that this is one of those sources that many "forget" to quote in their Medium articles.

To me still serves as a good reference to revisit methods that now are very well known, but to which Leah gives her own brilliant touches.
Profile Image for Jess.
723 reviews41 followers
February 23, 2019
Like with INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love, this isn't the kind of book I'm just going to recommend to everyone but it's very, very solid and actionable for people who are passionate about content strategy and user experience. I plan to use many of the tactics in here to get more done and expand my UX wheelhouse.
Profile Image for Simon Vandereecken.
Author 2 books48 followers
February 17, 2020
Was on my shelf for quite a long time, a very good book for anyone having to do all the UX work in a company, be it a big structure or a startup. This book does a very good job at giving you some tools you can use to start doing a great job and some basis on which you can evolve later. Especially useful for people in startups where you have to do a lot of things in a short span of time. And really important for anyone starting into the UX field.
Profile Image for Julian Dunn.
268 reviews15 followers
March 22, 2017
I have to admit: I skimmed this book, mostly because I work in product management and this book was written at a time when UX was less well understood and more exposition for the purposes of buy-in was necessary. Also, I work with a UX counterpart every day, and while it's valuable for me to understand his work (and research/development techniques), I personally am unlikely to practice those skills that much.

That said, there's nothing *wrong* with this book per se; it's just showing its age a little bit. I still think it's helpful if you are actually a UX team of one and it teaches you many things about how to evangelize your profession and win over skeptics. And I found a couple of the techniques useful & I will try them when my UX counterpart isn't around.
Profile Image for lisa.
55 reviews1 follower
June 18, 2019
This is a good pamphlet on user experience methods for those starting out or just curious about the field, considering it was first published in 2008. A lot of what we do as designers revolves around the methods described, and now I know the "proper" names to those. But this is not an ideal format to consult these methods, given that nowadays we have so many sources of online quality material.
Profile Image for Marek.
30 reviews1 follower
December 13, 2019
Nice book for beginner UX designers. Explained methods of what and how you can do and how to deal with it when you are the only one UX in the company (or work remotely). Good examples of materials to use.

Go ahead and use it like a textbook - no need to read from cover to cover.

The book is very nicely published.
25 reviews
February 6, 2020
Was hesitant to get this but worth it

I found that I was already doing some of the suggestions in this book as a UX person tackling a lot in my everyday job. Leah provides a pragmatic guide to what UXers go through and how to deal with being tossed in to a very abstract field companies are still trying to figure out.
Profile Image for Tanner.
7 reviews31 followers
April 24, 2020
Short and to-the-point introductory read for UX design. I wanted to review this book as a possible recommendation for design students and was not disappointed. If you’re at all experienced in UX design you’ll find the book to be a light read of familiar or even habitual information and processes. But if you’re inexperienced in the world of product design, this can be a great introduction.
Profile Image for Ellixs Tulagan.
7 reviews1 follower
May 12, 2020
Essential reading for any stage of designer. Particularly useful for solo UX designers, freelancers, for those whom work in a small design team, or those who want to persuade others on the value of user experience design. Got this recommendation from one of my design professors and I wasn't disappointed. Will be revisiting this book from time to time whenever I engage in designing a new product.
1 review
August 4, 2020
Very practical book. I simply loved the fact that the author didn't simply unloaded dozens of research methods and said "Do this". She recognises the constraints of being a solo UXR/Designer and had that into consideration during the whole book, recommending the most important method "If you only do one thing"...
Displaying 1 - 30 of 94 reviews

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