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Good design, growing your UX Career & accessibility with Tony Moura
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Good design, growing your UX Career & accessibility with Tony Moura

Good design, growing your UX Career & accessibility with Tony Moura

Satvik Soni
March 16, 2023

Good design, growing your UX Career & accessibility with Tony Moura

Tony Moura has been working in UX for over three decades now.
In that time, he has navigated the field as a job applicant, a recruiter, an entrepreneur, and a design leader.

He’s also a refreshing LinkedIn influencer.

“I can't stand it when people are like, hey, tell me what books to read. I don't read any.”

(more on this in a minute)

We recently had a chance to chat with Tony. This article sums together what we learned from him on:

  • working up to a leadership role
  • proving the value of your UX work in a company
  • growing your network through LinkedIn
  • designing more inclusive products

Navigating a UX Career

Tony’s insightful career advice is one of the best reasons to follow him on LinkedIn.
Throughout our chat with him, a few nuggets kept showing up.

Tony's LinkedIn Post
Source: Tony Moura on LinkedIn

There’s no secret UX formula

As Tony gets more popular on LinkedIn, a ton of UX newcomers flood his inbox asking for a formula to UX success.

As newcomers to the industry, it’s natural to wish for a definitive roadmap that you can then follow to the letter—“5 simple steps for the ultimate UX career!”

Unfortunately, there is no formulaic process to succeed in UX — the best you can hope for are guidelines that give you the right mindset.

However, there are 2 lessons Tony would share with newcomers to UX. It’s not a formula, but it may be all you really need to create incredible designs:

1. Follow the path of least resistance. What are users trying to achieve and how can you help them get there as quickly and easily as possible?

2. Designs should delight users. What’s better than efficient tools? Efficient tools that can make a person smile!

  • Users got disconnected? Let them enjoy a dinosaur jumping over cacti.
  • Selling footwear? Give your customers 365 days to return them.
  • Selling a physical product? Leave a thank you note in the delivery box

When you strip UX to the basics, we are all trying to create excellent human experiences. UXers must start thinking about their work with these two basics in mind and then move to the hard skills and processes that we’re taught in school.

📚Relevant articles:

Communicate your value to the C-Suite

This part of your job will, again, depend more on your soft skills.
Tony has learned that (in most companies), C-level executives are largely concerned with time and money. Shocking, I know.

They are more likely to care if they know how you are making them more money or saving it for them. 

If you’ve been following our interview series, you’ll recall that this works well with Joe Natoli’s advice on getting buy-in. Instead of being dogmatic about due process, do what can help the organization the quickest for the least amount of money.

If you’re able to tie your work to the money you’ve made or saved for the company, you will no longer need to prove that your work matters.

Find mentors and champions

Once you nail down the art of talking to c-level executives, you might want to join that club!

We asked Tony—who has held titles like Director and Vice President—for his advice on reaching positions of design leadership. In characteristic pragmatism, his answer was that who you know matters.

This is, of course, not limited to someone climbing up to leadership positions. All forms of career growth, including getting a job, benefit from having someone who can vouch for you.

The little problem here, of course, is that not everyone is buddies with Jared Spool.
Tony understands that as well. His solution is to use LinkedIn to your advantage.

Using LinkedIn to find your champions

LinkedIn is a great tool to build relationships with more experienced people you want advice and support from. While we are all using LinkedIn to build those relationships, a lot of us are doing it wrong.

We won’t recommend connecting with people with the ulterior motive of using them to get to the next step in your career. Instead, build a relationship with them and save your asks for later, when it doesn’t come across as the only thing you wanted.

Tony narrated a story of someone who reached out to him on LinkedIn. While the usual messages he receives are requests for jobs and/or recommendation letters, this one was just a request to connect.

Once they were connected, this person, new to UXR, built a real friendship with Tony — checking in ever so often and having a conversation with him. Their relationship eventually grew to a place where Tony is happy to lend her his mentorship or coaching.

This was a fresh change of pace from the other messages asking him for favors out of the blue.

In short—don’t ping people asking them for references if you don’t even know them.

Building genuine connections should be your first goal! The successful execs on LinkedIn are still people who’d like to have normal interactions every now and then.

📚Relevant Reading:

Making UX Accessible for Neurodivergent Users

We also got Tony’s thoughts on an often overlooked topic.  Our product teams AND the products they create, both, lack inclusivity for the neurodivergent.

Let’s walk through the Kanban board as an example.
A neurotypical user looks at a Kanban board and walks through it step by step.
What do I need to do today?
What are the steps I need to take to complete this task?
One might start from the left and work their way down a list, one card at a time.

Tony, however, has ADHD. His brain processes the information on this board very differently. He looks at one card, then jumps to another halfway down the list, and then back up again.

“The way that we process information in our brain is fundamentally different. So if you try and put me in a Kanban board, I look at it, and while I can understand it, [the gears in] my brain [are] not moving smoothly, right?”


Despite being neurodivergent, Tony himself had been designing products throughout his career without taking into account what his needs would be. How would he process a screen differently from his peers?

“So here you have a person that's neurodivergent, who has tried to design his entire career for a world that was neurotypical. And I never took into account the people that were neurodivergent.”

Based on some estimates, neurodivergent people make up up to 20% of the global population.
At the moment, we’re designing products that do not work for 1 in every 5 people.

Not to fear—resources already exist to help us build more inclusive products.
Here are a few to get started with:. 

You can read more of Tony’s thoughts on his LinkedIn.

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