Considering a new professional path can be a dizzying yet exciting experience. You’re likely doing a lot of research and trying to determine which new path is a good fit for your personality and skill set. You’re daydreaming about what a day in the office will look like in your new role. And finally, you’re probably wondering if the field you’re mulling over is shrinking or growing (is it really worth pursuing now?).
If UX Design is on your list of potential options, welcome to our tech-loving corner of the Internet. We’re glad you’re here, and we’ll do our best to help you decide if working in this profession is a good idea and fit for you right now.
Now, let’s dive into all things UX so you can better grasp if it’s the right industry for you.
Here’s what we’ll discuss today:
- Is UX design dying?
- Is UX design worth pursuing right now?
- Why should I consider working in UX as my profession?
- How can I become a UX Designer in the next year?
Is UX design a good career option right now?
The short answer is yes. Get in! The water’s great.
But there’s still much to unpack here. So first, let’s take a second to define what the profession is all about.
What is UX design?
User experience (UX) design is about creating positive interactions between people and technology. User experience refers to the overall interaction a person has with a product, app, service, or website. It’s the UX Designer’s job to make sure that interaction is intuitive, easy-to-understand, and positive.
Is UX design dying?
UX Designer Stew Dean said it best in his Medium post UX is New! UX is Dead! In it, he discussed some common misconceptions about UX: that it’s simultaneously a new field… and a dying one.
Neither of these statements is true. The term user experience was coined in the 1990s by Don Norman, but the field has existed in some form for as long as we’ve had design (which is a long, long time).
“UX is not going away,” Stew wrote. “Sure it might go under different titles, and previously it was HCI (human-computer interaction) and information architecture. Still, the role of user experience as taking the needs of users first and then, through an iterative process, shaping and creating an end solution is something we will always need.”
While the name has evolved over time and is still changing today (you may see “user experience design” used interchangeably with “product design”), the general job of a designer isn’t going anywhere.
Is it still worth pursuing right now?
Like we mentioned in our piece on UX Designer salaries, as long as we have physical and digital products and services, user experience jobs aren’t going away.
UX Designers play an integral role in ensuring consumers have positive experiences using websites, mobile apps, products, and services. This makes them pretty essential to a company’s bottom line in a world where the customer is always right. As we’ve seen over the course of 2020, our world is becoming increasingly more digital. We work, play, and find love online.
With the coronavirus pandemic, UX Designers have proved to be essential workers as they help to streamline our online operations. They work on product design, put out digital products, and make updates based on user feedback. They work on the very apps and websites we use at work each day (think Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.). We need UX Designers to keep our businesses and social lives running smoothly. They find the gaps and dream up new features to make these products even more useful.
Still a little skeptical about the viability of the UX field? Here are some numbers from the Nielsen Norman Group’s User Experience Careers report to back it up:
- In a survey of more than 700 UX designers, job satisfaction got a 5.4 rating on a scale of 1-7. UX practitioners are just as satisfied with their jobs now as they were in 2013 (when the first edition was published). Among reasons for their satisfaction, UX practitioners emphasized enjoying the work process, seeing the impact of their work, receiving recognition, and their opportunities for growth.
- The Nielsen Norman Group found that UX has developed as a field in many more countries since its 2013 report. This year they received responses from 65 different countries, compared to 38 in 2013. There was also a larger number of non-English speaking countries represented, implying that the field is growing outside of the Western world.
- Finally, the report revealed that, much like in 2013, software and IT are the fields hiring UX Designers the most.
The demand for product designers was also evident in InVision’s 2019 Product Design Hiring Report. The report found that 70% of managers increased their design teams in 2019 and are also expecting their design teams to grow by 21% in 2020.
User experience design was also ranked at number 5 on LinkedIn’s Top Skills Companies Need the Most in 2020 list. They noted companies need more human-centered apps and websites as attention spans continue to decrease year-by-year.
Other questions to consider
Now that we’ve established this profession’s ongoing viability as a career option, you should consider if it’s a viable option for you.
This means asking yourself if you’re going to enjoy a UX career. Of course, you’re the only person who can answer this question. But, we’ll give you some information to help you make a more informed decision about your potential career in UX.
Self Reflection Prompts
Here are some additional questions to ask yourself as you consider taking on a UX career. We encourage you to do some self-reflection using these prompts as a starting point.
- Do I enjoy working with people?
- Do I like creative work?
- Am I comfortable doing technical work?
- Does human psychology interest me?
- Am I an empathetic person? Am I able to identify with other people’s experiences and feelings?
- Do I like solving problems?
- Do I enjoy analyzing data?
Why should I consider a career in user experience design?
We don’t mean to brag but tech jobs come with loads of benefits. Still deciding if it’s for you? Here are some of our favorite reasons to consider a career in this growing field.
UX design pays well
While the total compensation a designer receives is dependent upon their experience level and location, UX generally pays well. The average pay for a designer in the U.S. is $102,443 according to data from Indeed. The job title of UX Designer clocks in at number 6 on Glassdoor’s list of 25 Highest Paying Entry Level Jobs in 2019. Again, check out our deep dive on UX Designer salary here for more information. We also recommend checking out Dice’s salary calculator to get a more comprehensive understanding of your earning potential based on experience level and location.
UX design empowers you to combine creative thinking & technical skills
If you’re already working in a creative role like graphic design, you may find UX/UI design empowers you to use your creative skills in new ways. UX gives you the space to draw on your design thinking and combine it with elements of web design and front end coding. You’ll also get to draw upon human psychology in the user research process. Those who love the creative process but also like tinkering with tech could combine their passions in a UX Designer role.
UX design provides opportunities for growth
Designers are able to level up their compensation and roles over time. UX design salaries tend to increase as you gain experience, meaning your earning potential is looking up in this field. There’s also plenty of opportunity for advancement. A typical UX Designer might start out in a Junior Product Design role and eventually advance to a Head of Design role.
UX design offers variety
There are a couple of opportunities that fall under the broader umbrella of UX. Currently, there are 2 main UX roles: UX Designer and UX Researcher. A UX Researcher will often have research skills as well as strong written and verbal communication skills. A user research role involves tasks like:
- Qualitative usability tests
- Field studies
Meanwhile, a UX Designer needs to possess skills in prototyping, visual design, and research. They’ll also need experience in data analysis and front-end coding. A UX Designer’s role will include tasks like:
- Prototyping and wireframing
- Constructing user journeys
- Designing visuals
Meanwhile, a generalist is someone who can switch between research and design tasks and has the skills to do both roles. Your unique skill set can clue you into which aspect of UX you might want to specialize in.
UX design helps you help others
For the altruists among us, UX design can be an incredibly attractive field. It requires a certain level of empathy from its practitioners. Why? Simply because UX/UI Designers have to put themselves in the user’s shoes in order to create a user experience that flows well and will be enjoyable for the user.
If you’re an empathetic person, have good communication skills, and enjoy mixing tech and art, UX design might be a good option for you.
User experience design is perfect for career-changers
User experience design is a great field for job-changers because it welcomes transferable skills and varied life experiences. Walk into a room full of UXers and you’ll likely encounter professionals with backgrounds in graphic design, web design, marketing, psychology, and more.
Someone with an undergraduate degree in psychology could thrive as a UX Researcher, for example. A journalist or marketer could find that they enjoy working on the content creation aspects of User Experience. There are a variety of ways people can transfer skills from an existing profession into this field.
Skills like communication, analytical thinking, and an interest in human psychology can all transfer to a rewarding user experience career. Of course, any designer will need training in the specific design skills required for the job, but those skills can often be taught. Which leads us to our next question…
How can I become a UX Designer in the next year?
One of the easiest ways to become a UX Designer is to attend an upskilling program, bootcamp, or academic program. While self-study is totally possible, it’s a good idea to attend a certification program where you can receive guided training in the field. Attending a program can also give you access to an established network of professionals in the field who can help you build your career.
Kenzie Academy’s UX Design Career Program
At Kenzie Academy, we offer a 6-month part-time UX Design Career program. This program was designed for working professionals, so you can get trained for your dream job while still earning an income at your day job.
Classes are during evenings and weekends and you’ll learn from practitioners with real-world experience (not academics who only know theory). The Kenzie Academy network will help you get connected with the movers and shakers of the profession. And, we’ll work to help you land your dream job after you complete the program.
Need some additional help figuring out if UX is the right move for you? Contact us! We’d love to chat with you about all things UX. Or if you’re ready to take the plunge, apply for our UX Design Career program (and get ready to change your life)! Also, be sure to check out the blogs below for even more information:
- How to Build a Strong UX Portfolio
- What is Design Thinking?
- Why You Should Consider a Career in UX Design
- What is UX Design?