Dereck Johnson portrait

Hello, I’m Dereck

I’m a design leader with a proven track record of successfully building and leading teams that deliver award-winning user experiences. Currently, I’m working full-time as Head of UX at FutureLearn, where I lead the delivery of world-class online education user experience across FutureLearn’s products. 

I play a strategic role in aligning user needs and business goals, to influence product strategy and vision. Helping others to see products through the eyes of real people, to understand context, motivations and user needs – based on empathy, data and insight. All with the aim of breaking down complex problems, providing clarity of understanding which help to deliver simple human-centred and business-focused solutions.

My full CV and career history is available on LinkedIn.

Role as a design leader

Team leadership

Using empathy to know when to support and when to challenge team members, I aim to help individuals define objectives, work towards them and deliver results to the best of their abilities. I look to encourage teams to explore, develop and deliver award-winning user experiences.

Design leadership

I take responsibility for providing clear, focused direction for design outputs and maintaining consistency while also encouraging experimentation. I champion user-centric behaviour, embedding an evidence-based approach, informed by research, data and empathy, to influence decision making. Working alongside other disciplines, such as insights and engineering teams to identify pain points and uncover opportunities. Collaboration is key to developing a design strategy and vision that the whole team and company can get behind.

Key behaviours I try to uphold

  • Empower others to do their best work by exploring opportunities without losing focus on the day-to-day work.
  • Foster a culture of close collaboration and lean, iterative development.
  • Lead continuous development of UX design working practices.
  • Uphold and champion UX design principles, ensuring that we live up to them.
  • Maintain a consistent user experience across all products and services.
  • Work with the product leadership to establish useful, user experience benchmarks, by which we can hold ourselves accountable and measure success.
  • Be open about motivations and objectives and how I’m working towards them. 

Latest thoughts

Mental Health Week: How photography helped me

During the second half of 2017, I hit a psychological wall. Not suddenly, it had been building for a while. I’d lost interest in almost everything outside of my family. At work, everything was going fine, but I was on autopilot. I was struggling to understand what was going on. I no longer wanted to socialise, go to car shows, build cars, make photographs, paint or cycle – all things that had been a massive part of my life up until then. Was it burn out? Mid-life crisis? All I knew was that I felt sad and unable to find joy in any of my interests.

Return to working with a new outlook

A new day, a new week and it’s time to return to work. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time off and feel that I’ve make good use of every minute. Finding new routines and different ways of thinking, but most enjoyable was not having to watch the clock.

Thinking about time moving forward

Having free days, for three weeks, has allowed me to appreciate the the enjoyment of not being beholden to a schedule. Not having to think about when the next Zoom call is lifts a massive weight from my mind.