Are you uncertain about how to kickstart your career in UX design? Don't worry; we've got you covered.
We're excited to bring you additional information and content through the User Experience Careers Report, an extensive study conducted by NN/g with valuable guidance on how to get started in UX design.
We've carefully extracted the most valuable findings from this report and condensed them into two comprehensive articles tailored to your needs.
The report features insights from various professionals in the field, highlighting key points worth sharing. If you're interested in learning more about this study, keep reading!
What is the Nielsen Norman Group?
The Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) is a leading company in the field of Experience Design. Their work includes writing articles, consulting for companies, and organizing events in the UX Design area.
Norman and Tognazzini were responsible for major UX/UI Design projects during their time at Apple in its early years.
Nielsen has extensive experience in web usability, which he developed during his years at Sun Microsystems. NN/g is certainly a big name in the UX Design market.
What is the User Experience Careers Report's objective?
The User Experience Careers Report, authored by Jakob Nielsen and Susan Farrell, aims to answer the question, "How do I establish a career in UX Design?".
The report presents the findings of extensive research conducted by the authors, including information on the following areas:
- The areas of activity of UX professionals;
- Their academic education;
- Satisfaction level with UX Design;
- The lessons learned from those who already have a career in UX.
Farrell and Nielsen hope their research will help clarify the path individuals should take to establish a successful career in User Experience.
To ensure a well-rounded study, they conducted their research with a large and diverse group of participants.
More than 960 professionals responded to the User Experience Careers Report survey.
The participants were evenly divided in terms of career experience, with almost half having six years or less in the profession and the other half having seven years or more.
70% of the participants were from the USA, UK, Canada, or Australia. It's important to note that the countries correspond to the participants' location, not necessarily their nationality.
The research aimed to show where people work, considering the ease of changing countries in the UX/UI Design field.
The report is quite comprehensive and provides interesting insights. It starts by answering the most fundamental question in the field: What is UX Design?
What is UX Design?
The User Experience Report provides an overview of what User Experience is.
The points that stand out to answer this question are:
- UX Design works to make things work better for everyone.
- UX Design is a multidisciplinary area.
- The UX Designer has several skills.
- UX is a career, and it is growing!
UX Design still encompasses several disciplines, making this profession multidisciplinary.
The image above by Dan Saffer exemplifies the question of the disciplines that UX Design works with. However, these fields are not fixed and other disciplines or different views may be added, such as Elizabeth Bacon's view:
Given this wide range of disciplines, we come to the question: what do UX Designers work with?
Reading Tip: What Is UX Design And How To Get Started?
In which areas do UX professionals work?
The User Experience Careers Report researched the areas in which UX Designers worked or had worked.
- 94% had worked on web development sites and apps;
- 67% on mobile apps;
- 60% on business apps;
- 54% on desktop apps.
Other responses appeared in the survey, such as
- banking software;
- service design;
- among many others.
Through this part of the research, we can observe that the work of a UX Designer can be applied in various fields, but it appears stronger in apps and websites.
As companies from various sectors gain maturity in UX, the profession has the potential to reach diverse markets. After all, UX Design can be applied to nearly any product.
But despite the UX Designers having a lot of openness in various areas, are they satisfied with what they do?
What is the satisfaction level of a UX professional?
Farrell and Nielsen made available to respondents a job satisfaction scale. They could respond between 1 – not satisfied at all – and 7 – completely satisfied.
The results were compiled in the graph:
The survey showed that the vast majority, 81%, of professionals are satisfied with their careers. And the reasons are as follows; the professionals:
- feel well rewarded and valued;
- see their work as improving people's lives;
- like being able to use all their skills;
- feel engaged in solving problems with User-Centered Design.
The overall satisfaction average was 5.4 out of 7. In other words, it's a high average.
Although there are naturally people who are dissatisfied with their work, the reason for dissatisfaction is what draws our attention the most. People feel unmotivated, not because they work in UX itself, but because they are in a job that makes it difficult to use their User Experience skills.
Some insights into professionals who felt dissatisfied:
- They want to gain more knowledge and training to feel more confident in their work;
- They want to have more UX activities at work;
- The company where they work does not provide the necessary support for the UX Design area.
In other words, dissatisfaction is more about the company they work for and the desire to learn and use more UX in their daily lives.
Reading Tip: 10 Reasons Why UX Design is an Amazing Profession
Satisfaction with salary and benefits
The survey also asked participants about their satisfaction with their salaries and benefits.
What can be observed is that satisfaction with salaries is quite high – with an average of 5.2 out of 7.
These data complement the insights disclosed from another survey conducted by InVision, which shows a salary increase of 84% for UX Design teams in the last 2 years. In addition to the expectation of a further 20% increase in the next period.
What is the ideal profile of a UX professional?
What is the ideal profile to work with UX Design? Of course, this answer depends on a series of variables, but the User Experience Careers Report was able to bring some interesting insights on this topic.
First of all, it is not necessary to have worked with Design. As we have mentioned before, it is not necessary to have a Design background to switch to UX Design.
You will identify with UX Design if you:
- Want to design better solutions for products and their users;
- Enjoy good design but reject poor design with poor functionality;
- Like to organize things;
- Like to make your work more efficient, thinking about workflow and how to improve it.
The survey also identified some qualities in common among UX/UI Design professionals who responded to the survey:
- Like to learn;
- Puzzle solver;
- Want to make a difference in the world and in people's lives;
- Like to simplify things;
- Like to improve and invent things;
- Understand people/users.
In addition to technical skills, the report emphasizes the importance of various behavioral skills, such as:
- Communication and writing;
We have already written an article on how Soft Skills are important. Check it out:
All of these qualities and skills are important for the activities carried out by a UX Designer.
What are the activities and responsibilities of a UX Designer?
One of the concerns of this research was to understand which roles each participant plays in their work within UX.
When we talk about roles, Farrell and Nielsen define three types:
- UXR: UX Research
- IXD: Interaction UX
- IA: Information Architecture
Given these three roles, we observe that many professionals perform more than one of them in the same job.
In total, there is a group of interviewees who are only leaders of UX teams, without participating in the design processes themselves. They only interview and hire UX professionals.
The graphs illustrate how UX Designers perform each of the roles/disciplines in their work. At first, it may be common to think that the roles are unique per person. But the truth is that in practice, the UX Designer needs to perform multiple functions.
This type of multidisciplinary professional is known as a T-shape, one who goes from end to end in the UX/UI Design process. This is the type of knowledge that companies seek most in professionals and is one of the focuses of the Mastering Interface Design (MID) program at Aela.
Activities and skills of a UX Designer
According to the User Experience Report, these are the 10 main activities of a UX Designer:
- Present solutions and concepts;
- Persuasive communication;
- Analyze tasks and activities;
- Build prototypes and wireframes;
- Collaborate with other specialists;
- Gather requirements;
- Specify Interaction Design;
- Conduct usability studies;
- Create storyboards, User Journeys, and flowcharts;
- Review design or value heuristics.
Only 20% of the interviewees said that programming is also part of their daily routine, and approximately 1/3 of the respondents said they would like to have programming skills; 47% said they do not want or need to program.
In addition to activities, the participants mentioned some other skills that are important for the career of a UX Designer:
- Writing and content production;
- Public speaking;
- Competitive analysis;
- Project management;
- Business analysis;
- Sense of humor.
Conclusion of the first part
In this first part of the User Experience Careers Report analysis, we have shown that UX is a multidisciplinary area and that background in Design is not necessary to start. We have also shown how satisfied professionals are with their careers.
In the second part, we will discuss studies and how to prepare to start working in UX Design, so don't miss it!