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Setting up a UX Team in the gaming and sports industry

Katja Ulbrich - Head of UX.
Early this year, I joined the Sportsbook and Platform team at SG Digital, the iGaming and sports betting division of Scientific Games. I was hired with the goal of setting up a User Experience (UX) team within the business. Creating intuitive UX in the gaming and sports industry presents unique challenges and opportunities while also yielding great insights. Here, I share the first in a series of articles about UX design in an ever-changing and growing industry.

First, Some Background…

Having worked in the gambling industry for the past 6 years, bringing with me 10+ years in UX (including managing a UX team), I’ve developed a keen understanding of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. Stepping into a B2B role without an established UX team staged me for an interesting journey, starting with the initial shock of moving from consumer products to a B2B offering.

Early Education

B2B certainly comes with its own set of rules and opportunities. From a UX point of view specifically, designers are one step removed from the end user. Different information is available, requiring alternative approaches and responses to data. I’m still young in the B2B world, but I’ve already learned how crucial it is to establish strong relationships with the B2B customers. To build a working UX platform in a B2B space, I have to constantly evaluate our customer needs while keeping in mind their customers, the players.

The previous absence of a dedicated UX team within the business certainly doesn’t mean that UX itself was absent. Rather, UX was a collective effort across various teams. This solution succeeded by many accounts, so I am keen to keep the team spirit alive and continue to collect input from subject matter experts. I have to ask questions, listen carefully, and stay up-to-date with ever-shifting priorities. On top of that, I have to prioritise—where will a revamped UX design be most beneficial right now? Who needs the quickest, simplest solution? How can I streamline products and projects to make the UX more effective? These questions can all float around at once, so I have to build a team that can balance them and give each project the attention it needs and deserves.

For now, my time is split between getting to know the business landscape, recruiting UX Designers into the team, and providing UX support on an ad-hoc needs basis while simultaneously establishing UX principles for the entire division. Most important, as this is a new function within the business, I must prove the value of UX, elevating people’s thinking from “Can you make this look better?” to just “Can you make this better?” UX reaches far beyond aesthetics, and it’s my job to take it there.

Next time…

In my next piece, I’ll share the story of my first team members onboarding experience and examine my first attempts at incorporating a UX foundation into the business.