I remember a graduate student once asking me if she should continue on to a PhD program after completing her master’s degree. I asked her what she thought the benefits were to getting a PhD; she responded that having a PhD would put her on a faster track into management.
Her thinking was driven by a common and faulty assumption held by many—that eventually, to progress in your career as a UX professional, you have to become a manager.
The truth is, there are many career paths for UX professionals, including many leadership roles that don’t require managing people. In fact, organizations typically need a balance of managers and high-ranking individual contributors (meaning not managing people) to tackle varying leadership responsibilities that require different skill sets.
I’m more confident than ever that management involves distinct and sometimes intrinsic skills, and should not be viewed as the default next step in one’s career progression. And there’s a ton of research that supports this. According to one Gallup study of 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, only one in ten people possess the innate talents needed to be a successful manager. The same study quotes that companies fail to choose the management candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. Continue reading So you want to be a UX manager?
My story of discovering, first-hand, how important psychological safety is to teams pinning their innovation hopes on frameworks like design thinking.
I sat up from the exercise mat I was lying on and pushed myself off the gym floor. I hustled over to the window sill where my jacket, water bottle, and phone sat. I anxiously fumbled to unlock my phone and to tap the rewind button on the audio book, Dare to Lead, I was listening to so I could hear the last part once more.
The author, Brené Brown, was reciting a thought she always imparts to the leadership teams she coaches at the very start of their engagements.
“What, if anything, about the way that people are leading today needs to change in order for leaders to be successful in a complex, rapidly changing environment where we’re faced with, what seems like, intractable challenges and an insatiable demand for innovation?
“While the question is complex, there was one answer that repeated…
“We need braver leaders and more courageous cultures.” Continue reading Somewhere Between Vulnerability and Design Thinking
You think you’re just like everyone else. You think your thoughts, opinions, values, and habits are just the same as other people. Psychology calls this the false consensus bias1 because we assume much more commonality than reality warrants.
False consensus bias contributes to making bad decisions when we design software.
Alan Cooper noted this type of bias while wondering why otherwise smart, talented people often created such crappy software. He invented the persona-based design methodology to help facilitate insight into a product’s users and remove the designer’s bias. He wrote about the method in his seminal 1998 book, The Inmates are Running the Asylum.2
Have you ever heard anyone on your team say, “what if the customer wanted [some feature]?” Cooper used the term “the elastic user” to reference this shape-shifting, need-changing user who encompasses all edge cases. Good decisions can’t come from elastic users.
Imagine hotel software that is supposed to be suited for a hotel accountant, a front desk agent, and a retail worker in the hotel gift shop. The accountant is heads down in numbers and needs to focus. The front desk agent needs to be able to smoothly switch tasks and be friendly and helpful when guests walk in. And the retail worker may not be in front of a computer at all. Personas can help designers understand the nuances and needs of these different types of workers and create software that fits with their needs. Continue reading Do You Know Your Users?
The age of cheap “like”-hunting needs to come to an end. It all started innocently enough with likes and tweets. Then in a few years, we suddenly ended up with governments scoring people and masses manipulated into meaningless activities to generate more ad revenue.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Now the time has come for us—designers, working on digital products—to step up our game and act like real gatekeepers. Continue reading Designing for Meaningful Social Interactions
At the time of this writing, a search for UX design jobs on job finder Glassdoor reveals almost 20,000 open positions in the United States alone. By another source, the number is 24,000, with a 22% projected growth rate in the next ten years.
Salaries vary between USD$60,000 to $127,000 annually, with the median salary for 2017 being $77,000. With a significant spike year-to-year, the median salary in 2018 is $93,000 in the States, with the coasts offering the highest paying positions.
Onward Search provides a useful overview of the UX design job market in infographic format.
If we go by the stats, the market for UX designers could not be hotter. And, yet, those at the forefront of the field are rapidly calling 2018 the beginning of the end for the UX design job title.
Have we reached peak UX design already? Is it at the maturity stage in the life cycle?
And if it is, what’s next?
Continue reading UX Design Careers in 2018 and Beyond: The Future of the UX Designer