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 outcomes 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

Do/Pause Workshop

Last year I attended the one day Do Pause workshop and it has proved to be one of the most valuable events I’ve ever attended and Robert Poynton is a superb facilitator. The day left me with a whole host of practical things I could put into practice straight away, along with deeper things to take away to think about. Over the year since the workshop, I’ve been practising many of the lessons learned, introducing different pauses, all of which I’ve felt has provided me with a slower, more thoughtful way to see things.

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.

How to provide clarity without showing the whole picture

Sometimes it can be hard to provide clarity, especially when you’re not totally clear about things yourself. When leading on a project should I be the one creating the clarity or should I be supporting and coaching others to find their own?