From Account Manager to UX Designer

How the newest member of our product design team transitioned into the UX world

After spending the first 5 years of my career in account management, I recently decided to transition into UX design. This decision was mostly sparked from working with clients during my time as a Client Engagement Manager (CEM) at 4C and observing where they would run into user errors, areas to improve the platform, and inconsistencies across our different tools. Being on the front lines and seeing all of this inspired me to enroll in a UX bootcamp called Designation, during which 4C has been gracious enough to keep me on as an intern on the UX team.

Similarities Between UX and Account Management

While UX and account management are viewed as very different fields, there are actually several areas they overlap.

Empathy is at the Heart of both Functions

The first similarity is that both revolve around the clients/users and require empathy. It was easy to relate with clients’ pain points because I was an activator at an agency in a past life, so most I experienced most of their qualms when I walked in their shoes. I would often speak of my agency days when working with clients which helped me relate and build rapport. I have learned that UX designers must also be empathetic to fully understand the user’s mindset, goals, and frustrations in order to design products that will not only solve their problems, but also be enjoyable to use. It’s important that UX team to get face time with clients early and often throughout the design process in order to apply their feedback in design iterations (check out Mike’s article on iteration.)

Both Sit at the Intersection of Multiple Departments

Another similarity between UX and account management is that both sit at the intersection of multiple departments at 4C. As a CEM, I worked closely with sales, marketing, customer support, engineering, product, and finance. I was essentially an extension of the client’s team and internal 4C champion to ensure that their bugs were resolved, they were sold our newest products, our product team heard their requests, etc. UX is similar in that we work very closely with the engineering team implementing our designs, product managers who own each tool in the platform, and CEMs who are able to give us client insights and connect us with them for direct feedback sessions.

Differences Between UX and Account Management

While Account Management and UX are two very similar fields, there are also some key differences that I am looking forward to learning more about.

UX Hard Skills

Most of the design work we do is in a design platform called Sketch — I have a basic understanding of the tool, but there is always more to learn.

Being on the Front Lines vs. Working with Internal Teams

Working primarily with internal teams rather than out on the front lines constantly interfacing directly with clients has been an interesting change. I now realize how important the information CEMs gain from clients are, especially when we’re working through client-requested product designs.

Applying what I’ve Learned in Class

It has been interesting to see what I’ve been learning in my class play out in the “real world”. For example, we put together a user interview script at the same time I was learning about user interviews in my class, which helped me form the questions to ask and how not to lead the user when asking them.

My projects in class have mostly focused on the design process for new products, but it’s interesting to see how the same principle apply to designing for an existing product. With new products, we’ve had to do extensive research on who the user is, identify their problems and the approach we want to take to solve them. Existing products have already defined who the users are and what their problems are, as well as a solidified approach to how to solve them. Existing products have also been styled, so it’s important to ensure that new tools and features align with legacy tools to ensure the user has a consistent experience. User interviews are still essential with existing products to test our design approaches and make iterations based on the feedback received. It’s nice because all of the components already exist and we can focus on iterating designs to continuously improve the platform.

At first, I thought that transitioning from account management to UX would be a 180 from what I had been doing, but it’s nice there are so many areas that overlap and my background has actually applied quite a bit to my class and intern work. I am excited to continue to learn new things and become a better designer throughout my class and internship — hopefully I can help make 4C even better!

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