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By Jenny Lam

Working at a startup in the tech industry can offer so many exciting opportunities that are hard to come by in a large, established organization. But with that excitement come difficult new challenges. Recruiting is one — you’re still under pressure to make every hire exceptional, but it’s not always as clear exactly what job roles you need to fill. And you don’t have the luxury of a large, experienced HR team to help.

Since leaving Microsoft and co-founding a software startup here in Seattle, I’m repeatedly struck by how this is especially true for design talent. The tech community is starved for great design and doesn’t know how to get it. Almost weekly, I get emails and phone calls from folks looking for a “UX designer.” Often times the conversation starts out with a poorly written job description, which only underscores that the hiring managers don’t fully understand what designers really do.

It’s not that tech companies don’t get the value of design — I truly believe they do — but it isn’t always clear how to integrate designers into their organization to derive that value. I hear complaints all across the board: it’s hard to source good candidates, we’re not sure how to interview them, and frankly we don’t always know what’s “good design.”

And the problems don’t stop when the offer letter is accepted. I also field a lot of questions from terrific managers struggling to find better ways to work with the designers they already have on board. (The confusion isn’t one-sided, by the way. There are just as many traditional graphic designers and interaction designers desperate to figure out a better way to work with developers!)

This is why I’m working so hard to get the word out about HIVE 2011 – a one-day conference that explores the role of design in tech. The inaugural event produced by AIGA Seattle will take place in Redmond, WA at the Microsoft Conference Center on Friday, Sept. 16th, 2011 from 10am – 5pm. Whether you’re a designer, developer, or a founder, there’s something in this conference just for you. We have a ton of great speakers and topics, but we’re also working hard to provide a great framework for local UX professionals to engage with tech managers and bridge the communication gap to improve the products and services we build.

Here’s a preview of some of the talk topics given by expert design and industry leaders:

  • Hiring the UX Designer
  • What to expect from UX Designers coming straight out of school
  • How I learned to stop worrying and love the engineers
  • CEOs: How to lead the way to great design
  • Why VCs care about design
  • Building a UX team from the ground up
  • How to run an effective design critique
  • and much more…

In addition to the talks, we have two special spaces for you to experience the conference:

  • The Stereo Type room – This space offers attendees the ability to meet other local designers, developers and business people through an activities.
  • Simulcast Lounge – Relax and kick back in this lounge with a live stream of the HIVE talks coming from the main room. Talking and working is allowed in this room. We’ll even make sure there are plenty of power outlets :-)
Early bird tickets end THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST 5th.
See you there!
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