UX Unicorns Exist and You Should Find Them

There are many companies looking for designers who champion design from all perspectives. Instead of designers, community calls them UX unicorns. Magical creatures who can research, design, validate, work with the development team and suggest changes to the business.

The community almost gets offended when companies try to find these unicorns. You can see articles and discussions on LinkedIn. People think designers must specialise. That’s why our recruiting friends look for UX researchers so much these days. You can’t expect a UX designers to research, right? How about a designer that can research, understand the code and offer a solution to the development team? No way, we need a band of people to do that!

We’ve grown soft.

The point is, UX designers must be able to research to be UX designers. If your designer can’t, you should ask yourself how much of User there is in the UX title. If your designer has no appreciation of technical implementation, they put effort only to the prototypes, not the product itself.

As a result, your product suffers.

I see this upset around UX unicorns differently. Companies with a small design team should specifically look for these. It’s better to have a few unicorns than trying to manage a group of specialists.

Why?

Unicorns put effort into every step of the product lifecycle. Your product is where they measure success, not their deliverables. They are fully invested, trying to help everyone in getting better at delivering great experiences. They are accountable for success and failure of the product design. Rather their niche, they care about the design as a whole.

While I see the point for specialisation in design, it adds a lot of complexity to your business. You have to manage people. You need to make them accountable for their bit. You need to provide them with coaching and career development. If you have a large design team, specialisation makes sense. If you don’t, make your life easier by hiring unicorns.

As you mature, let those unicorns lead teams of specialists.

PS: I would propose changing UX unicorn “title” to full stack designer. What do you think?

Thanks for reading. I wish you the best of luck with finding the right talent!