I led User Experience for Cadence Design Systems. As Director of User Experience, I oversaw all product design and UX activities for the company across all lines of business.
In 2003 Cadence eliminated all UX roles while downsizing. By 2014 the executive team realized the most successful software companies are user-driven, so they decided to re-establish the practice. I was hired to evangelize user experience across the organization, establish processes, identify core areas of need, and create a hiring strategy.
My first goal was to research the baseline health of the software and document the most critical issues. I ran a standard heuristic using standard design guidelines, along with conducting user research (formal interviews, observational study, and surveys) with existing customers.
My second goal was to prioritize the issues, create a roadmap, and design the UX artifacts necessary for engineering to make updates. I then identified full-stack engineers with UX skills in core areas of the company and recruited them to be UX Ambassadors. An Ambassador was responsible for UX improvements, checking for consistency of patterns, and evangelizing UX to their respective teams.
My final goal was to create a culture of UX within the entire organization. I did this through brown bag engagements that detailed my design process, how to repeat this process throughout the company, and how to get involved. The sessions were so successful I was given authority to conduct them globally at our principal offices.
Cadence was also looking to add future functionality, most notably with Artificial Intelligence. This interest in AI included exploring the mental model of Analog Designers, job mapping their typical workflows, and helping build machine learning models to analyze and predict what a user would do next. While nascent, this work was promising, and UX played a huge role in understanding what a user's error tolerance would be with the new functionality.