When Christina and I started UXmentor.me in 2013 we had no idea it would turn into one of the largest design communities online.

We have around 1500 mentees from all walks of life, at different stages in their career and from across the globe.

In those 6 years, our mentors have helped guide mentees who had no other source of advice available to them. They have done this free of charge and in their spare time.

Today we are announcing that we are closing the UXmentor.me Slack channel on the 13th December 2019.

Here are the reasons why, and what we are doing next.

Our north star

We have always had a very clear purpose for UXmentor.me.

We want to create a world where the next generation of UX Designers and Researchers are well informed and practice design thinking effectively to raise the standards of products and services in the world around us

As the Slack has grown, it has become harder and harder to stay aligned to this north star and have the impact we want.

Short term resource over long term development

In its current format, UXmentor.me is being used to ask one-off questions to mentors, get an answer and then disengage.

We have found that mentees ask mentors what they would do, rather than come up with suggestions themselves to get feedback on.

There is no follow up on how the advice went, what was learnt, or how it could help others. All these things are needed to create a valuable feedback loop in a healthy learning environment and community.

This type of short term interaction may solve an immediate problem, but it doesn’t help develop critical-thinking. This is a skill which is essential to practice and improve as a Designer.

We firmly believe that mentoring has the best success when it is a long term relationship.

The Q&A format Slack encourages is not helping us meet the needs of our mentees or to effect the change we want to see in the UX industry.

Resource hub, not guidance

We get hundreds of similar questions around the best tools or ‘how do I do <UX technique>’.

We believe there may be better solutions to answer these questions rather than Slack. This is something we will look into in future.

Dealing with these types of queries takes mentors time away from their core purpose of guiding mentees on their approach and development.

Community paralysis

Teacher and student

We strongly believe in the benefits of a UX community, but it is not working in its current form.

As the community has grown, it has become harder for (particularly new) Designers to speak up and ask questions, help other mentees or even say hello when they join.

They are afraid to look stupid in front of others. This has led to a sterile teacher/student environment which doesn’t foster learning and helping others.

Only 1.34% of members are interacting in the community weekly

Based on average of last 30 days activity

It’s not sustainable

Some of our costs to run UXmentor.me are:

  • Hosting
  • Development
  • Branding
  • Advertising
  • Equipment
  • Time

Many of you may not be aware that the mentors are offering up their free time for UXmentor.me. This is on top of real-life jobs, family and other commitments outside of work.

Having no sustainable source of income means we can’t invest in exploring better solutions to help tackle the big meaty challenges we have uncovered in the UX industry.

Deeply embedded UX industry problems

There are some huge industry-wide problems that have become very apparent over the last 6 years of running UXmentor.me. They are frankly too big for a Slack channel to solve on its own.

Missing post-education support

There is a severe gap in mentoring availability for new UX Designers. This is something that needs to be addressed by the UX industry as a whole.

This includes making mentoring available after a UX course or education is completed and ensuring there are support networks in place for graduates when they start work.

Differences in markets

Global UX markets

The UX landscape varies widely depending on where you are practising it. Different countries have vastly different UX maturity levels. The challenges a UX designer from one country may face compared to another can be stark.

Fundamental UX principles do not change by location, but how you implement them effectively does.

We have a good handle on the UK market and what works there. All our mentors have worked in it for many years. We don’t feel we are able to offer the level of advice we would want to for Designers in other markets yet.

Lack of career transition advice

Availability of information around how to transition into UX from other careers is almost non-existent.

88.2% of new Standard UXmentor.me applications are for those not currently working as UX Designers or researchers

September – October 2019

We have developed content around this issue, but the scope of this problem area is too large for us to tackle at the moment.

The UX market is also completely different in different countries. This means we cannot give effective career advice for those outside the UK.

UX Portfolios

We also get many questions around reviewing UX portfolios. This level of individual attention is not something we can offer at this kind of scale. Plus, there are people who can do it better than we can.

We want to solve one thing well

Focus

Unfortunately, we have come to realise it’s simply not possible for us to tackle all of these industry-wide challenges at the same time effectively and with the level of quality we want to maintain.

Our biggest success and impact has been mentoring Designers and Researchers individually who are either in their first UX job or are the only Designers in their organisation.

This is because we can concentrate on helping them with their approach, rather than teaching them basic UX tools like wireframes or how to become a UX Designer.

This is where we now want to focus.

What we are doing next

ℹī¸ The Slack channel will be decommissioned on December 13th 2019.

We will now be solely focussed on offering individual mentoring for people who are:

  • In their first UX or Research job
  • The only UX Designer or Researcher in their team
  • In the UK đŸ‡Ŧ🇧 (for now)

We are going to roll this out slowly to make sure we get it right and to give us time to tackle the bigger issues we want to solve.

But I still need help!

We still want to help contribute to solving the wider problems in the UX industry. We know there are still many of you on your own with no support.

There are a few ways you can stay up to date with what we are doing:

Thank you

We truly believe in the last 6 years we have been able to help a lot of people who really had nowhere else to turn.

👏đŸģ Thanks to our Community Managers who helped us grow.

👏đŸģ Thanks to our UX Career Booster and Plus beta testers who helped us develop new ideas to help Designers.

👏đŸģ Thanks to all our mentors who have helped countless people.

And lastly thanks to all of our mentees who have joined us in this journey ❤ī¸

Categories: Mentoring

Chris Mears

Chris is co-founder of UXmentor.me. He has worked with clients such as the UK government, Just Eat & Which? with a focus on service design and transformation.