User experience is a vital part of any successful product strategy, and establishing a solid team of UX professionals should of course be a top priority for anyone in product development. This time last year, I had the opportunity to join Samsung and build such an organization: the very first internal UX Design team for samsung.com. While moving from Boston to Seattle would surely be a challenge of its own (packing up my Vespa without draining the fuel first made for an unexpected surprise at the destination), the opportunity was too great to refuse.
I have built design teams in both small and large environments before, but this time the task felt much greater than just assembling a few fresh minds and creating the necessary space and procedures to help them succeed. Samsung has always worked with external partners for UX and brand initiatives. Building an in-house team would mean elevating that team's collaboration with partners while supporting the broader product roadmap and striving for measurable performance.
Nothing can identify a team better at face value than its own visual identity, especially when it shares an environment with different product categories (Mobile, TV, Home Appliances), apps (Samsung Shopping, Samsung+, Samsung Pay), and offices spanning the globe from New York to Seoul. And so, one of my very first moves when I arrived on the ground in Seattle was to create an identity for the newborn UX Design team and begin the delicate task of spreading it around the organization and beyond—with partners, vendors, and everyone else that we were planning to actively interact with.
The identity had to be simple, immediately recognizable, and most of all in style with Samsung's image of technological sophistication and innovation. It also had to be understood in multiple languages and countries, as dozens of other teams, internal and external, would interface with this UX Design group and would need to recognize themselves in it, as each one would be a fundamental part of its success. Of course, Samsung is also the largest manufacturing company in the world with meaningful, human innovation at the core of its product strategy, so you can immediately see how intimidating such a task became for me.
Building this team and designing its identity has been a terrific challenge for me and I will surely be grateful for this opportunity for a long while. In the meantime all I can do is order hats and t-shirts to go and hope that the laundry machine will be kind to the image that aims to unify the diverse and talented group of fantastic people that I have the luck and honor to work with. Now it's time to go back to the interfaces—in the meantime, if you can, give your team the identity they deserve.