UX, CommunicationPaul McAleer

Chief Wireframe Officer

UX, CommunicationPaul McAleer

I was interviewing for a job earlier this year with what I thought was a pretty great sounding place. The CEO had a solid reputation for good work, and some of my former colleagues had worked with him. They called me and wanted to know if I wanted to interview for a Chief Design Officer position.

CDO. 

Let me tell you, the part of me that loves titles... was on board . That part of me saw this as a huge jump, a prestigious one. It sounded great (still does!) And the interview process started off really strongly, too. A couple of phone conversations, sharing my portfolio, and then I was talking with the fellow's executive assistant (who mattered in this case) and an HR person.

The conversation started out strong, speaking about strategy and the role of design in this organization. I spoke about how design has to align with business goals, and how obvious it was that this company got it  because they saw design as a core competency. And they nodded and smiled. Then they asked me a question.

"So, what tool do you use for wireframes?" 

They explained a little more about the job: the CEO would come up with ideas (requirements) and need someone to make wireframes to handoff to development. There were other designers on this team too, so there was a management component, but nothing terribly formal.

My heart sunk. This? This was a CDO?

I did answer, of course, that I could make wireframes in whatever tool, who really gives a fuck. (I didn't say "fuck", but maybe I should have.) I went on to add, "But that doesn't touch on what all of design can or should do. Wireframes are a tiny aspect of it, and sure they're important, but I would be loathe to make something without proper user research." 

"Oh." 

It was clear what this company wanted. But it was equally clear, maybe even moreso, that I knew what I wanted. It was a job where design and research are taken seriously, and where everyone on the team gets it - no fighting nor multiple-year-long campaigns to "fight for UX" involved. 

At that job, I would have had to do that every day. It would have bored me to tears and not challenged me at all. 

I did not hear from that company after our talk, but I didn't mind it in the least.

They wanted a CDO who wasn't really a C, a D, or an O. They wanted a person to make wireframes.