With so many different UX jobs available, how do you know which one’s for you? We’re discussing the state of user experience careers in the web design industry
User experience has come a long way since the design term was coined by Don Norman in the ’90s. UX jobs are trending and we all want a piece of the pie. The number of people who are currently riding the UX wave is staggering—and it’s only going to get bigger from here on out.
But with so many of us along for the ride, it does raise the question: what do our UX job titles say about us? It has taken us long enough to bring user-centered thinking into the web design process, and now, UXers are everywhere. Let’s take a look at the state of UX jobs in today’s tech industry.
Navigating the ocean of UX jobs
For most aspiring individuals, we display our job titles proudly on LinkedIn and other social media sites to signify our distinction, and to imply our competence and experience in our given field. Yet more and more, our job titles require further explanation to communicate what it is we actually do.
UX design in the online technology industry is one of the worst offenders, with UX jobs going in and out of style faster than internet memes. UX design is a multidisciplinary approach to designing digital products with the user always at the center. It envelopes a number of disciplines but essentially, it relates to shaping how the user perceives and interacts with a digital product.
In web design, user experience has finally earned its seat at the table. In fact, as Sohan Murthy states: “‘UX Designer’ is one of the 10 most popular job titles, having barely existed 5 years ago”. And it doesn’t stop there…
Let’s see, so far, we’ve got our UX Designers, UX Researchers, UX Architects, Usability/UX Analysts, Product Designers, UX Product Managers, Visual Designers, Experience Designers, UI Designers, UI Artists—the list truly goes on and on. On top of this, the roles that define each of these job titles can vary extensively between startups and large corporations, or depending on the knowledge that your employer has in this – comparatively new – field. UX jobs are in such high demand that those of us who make the cut are expected to be practically fluent in UI UX design from the word go.
“A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense.” — Bruno Munari, Design as Art
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UX jobs: where are you on the spectrum?
The problem with UX being (relatively) new is that the job details are totally up for discussion. Encompassing so many different profiles, UX jobs are often subject to some confusion.
Some UXers see UX design as more of an umbrella terms that spans a broad range of specializations, rather than just one discipline. If the role is more design oriented, Experience Designer might be the right fit. If it’s more technical, Experience Architect.
And often we see the User Interface (UI) and UX combined with “designer” or “developer”. So what does that entail? Do we code, design, analyze, test, build? Morten Christoffersen asks the following question: “if the actual interface and interactions of a digital product is not pivotal for the user experience, then what is?” … It takes two to tango!
The fact is that UX consists of many disciplines and skill sets, so the generic title ‘UX designer’ can feel quite ambiguous. Technology is advancing so quickly that many of us are expected to be tech savvy. But in reality, the number of people who permeate the tech industry is actually still quite small in comparison to other professions. Saying we work in UX is a great opener – personal as well as professional – but unless we elaborate, not everyone will catch on.
“A solid process lays the foundation for a healthy culture, one where ideas are evaluated by merit and not by job title.” — Eric Ries
UX jobs: back to the drawing board
So what have we learned? Are we seeing the same jobs just with different titles? Sshould we ignore job titles altogether and live in a sort of free-for-all UX utopia?
Or maybe we should we embrace the broad range of specializations that fall under the UX jobs umbrella. Who knows.
Only one thing’s for certain: we need to continue building great interactions and experiences for the user. At the end of the day, we should be thinking of UX design as a mindset, not just as a job title.
If you’ve read our recent piece on UI/UX, you will know that our resident UI and UX Designers view user experience as a way of life, and not something that you hang up when you clock out on Friday evening. Great UXers are always thinking about what’s best for the user and their experience, regardless of their job title.