US News thinks we have potential!

24 Dec 2007 - 6:48pm
6 years ago
32 replies
1782 reads
Chris Dame
2006

I saw that US News recently ran an article on the "Best Careers of 2008"
(http://www.usnews.com/features/business/best-careers/best-careers-2008.html),
and a new addition this year is "Usability/User Experience Specialist",
which arguably we are. This seems like a great sign that we are nearing
the tipping point, along with all of the good and bad things that come
along with it.

Personally, I was excited to see it and rushed in to see what they were
saying. I have built positions where I am heavily involved in the entire
process, from ethnography and concepting through deployment. I may be
atypical (and lucky), and I love seeing others' descriptions of the field
for comparison.

I read the executive summary, which is nice and succinct. Then I read the
"Day in the life" for the position
(http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/best-careers/2007/12/19/usabilityuser-experience-specialist-a-day-in-the-life.html),
which is also succinct, but seems to miss a lot. The fact that this is
focused on research doesn't bother me, but one paragraph does. If you
don't want to read the short article, it is about a medical device and
essentially states you get to know the user and business goals up until
this paragraph.

"You write a report summarizing what you've learned. Then, engineers
develop a prototype of the product that comes closest to meeting both the
company's and the surgeons' desires."

I've certainly worked in situations where this has happened. The research
is compiled, never presented, and engineers build something. However, I
think the majority of what I do happens between those two sentences.
Namely the "Design" portion. Translation of the research findings into
useful items such as personas, scenarios, usage models, use cases,
architectures, wireframes, even early functional prototypes are done by
designers, interaction included.

I don't think the reporter misunderstood the situation. I have spent a lot
of time changing the "toss it over the wall" approach that a lot of
companies employ. Checking off the research portion as done and handing
the abstract documentation to engineers thinking it will somehow transfer
all of the experience and understanding is unfortunately common. Science
has a while before osmosis becomes a viable business practice.

Thoughts?

-Chris Dame
http://theusabilityofthings.com

Comments

24 Dec 2007 - 8:08pm
SemanticWill
2007

My only bone to pick with them, well - one bone to pick is the use of
"specialist" which in a narrow sense is a very specific title for
people in our field with 1-3 years of expertise - or in the pejorative
sense means someone who can 'only' do usabilty or UX. Specialization
is for ants. They should have used the more general "professional"

will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
617.281.1281

On Dec 24, 2007, at 6:48 PM, "Chris Dame" <ixda at thefake.com> wrote:

> I saw that US News recently ran an article on the "Best Careers of
> 2008"
> (http://www.usnews.com/features/business/best-careers/best-careers-2008.html
> ),
> and a new addition this year is "Usability/User Experience
> Specialist",
> which arguably we are. This seems like a great sign that we are
> nearing
> the tipping point, along with all of the good and bad things that come
> along with it.
>
> Personally, I was excited to see it and rushed in to see what they
> were
> saying. I have built positions where I am heavily involved in the
> entire
> process, from ethnography and concepting through deployment. I may be
> atypical (and lucky), and I love seeing others' descriptions of the
> field
> for comparison.
>
> I read the executive summary, which is nice and succinct. Then I
> read the
> "Day in the life" for the position
> (http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/best-careers/2007/12/19/usabilityuser-experience-specialist-a-day-in-the-life.html
> ),
> which is also succinct, but seems to miss a lot. The fact that this is
> focused on research doesn't bother me, but one paragraph does. If you
> don't want to read the short article, it is about a medical device and
> essentially states you get to know the user and business goals up
> until
> this paragraph.
>
> "You write a report summarizing what you've learned. Then, engineers
> develop a prototype of the product that comes closest to meeting
> both the
> company's and the surgeons' desires."
>
> I've certainly worked in situations where this has happened. The
> research
> is compiled, never presented, and engineers build something.
> However, I
> think the majority of what I do happens between those two sentences.
> Namely the "Design" portion. Translation of the research findings into
> useful items such as personas, scenarios, usage models, use cases,
> architectures, wireframes, even early functional prototypes are done
> by
> designers, interaction included.
>
> I don't think the reporter misunderstood the situation. I have spent
> a lot
> of time changing the "toss it over the wall" approach that a lot of
> companies employ. Checking off the research portion as done and
> handing
> the abstract documentation to engineers thinking it will somehow
> transfer
> all of the experience and understanding is unfortunately common.
> Science
> has a while before osmosis becomes a viable business practice.
>
> Thoughts?
>
> -Chris Dame
> http://theusabilityofthings.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

24 Dec 2007 - 8:11pm
Jeff Seager
2007

>"Science has a while before osmosis becomes >a viable business
practice."

Yep! I think your reservations about this article tie together some
things others here have said in a different thread (or threads) in
the last few days, Chris. Mark Schraad lamented the occasional
disadvantages of compromise, and Robert Hoekman Jr. stressed the
value of solid communication -- both in a somewhat different context.
I hope I'm not reaching too far to make those connections.

When we divide the design process into discreet segments assigned to
different teams, we also need to promote a collegial spirit and
methodology *among* those teams, and not just within them. If we
don't, there's potential for a lot of lost knowledge and
understanding at every intersection.

This requires good communication and an environment conducive to
communication, and that sounds easy but it can get muddy when you
factor in human ego and ambition, for two common examples.

It's just another kind of workflow analysis complicated by a lot of
human variables, and I think good leadership is what gets us over
those potential obstacles. Apart from other thoughts about what Chris
has said, I'd like to hear anyone's story about a leader you've
known who did a good job of keeping all the dots connected along the
way. Seems to me that's a rare and valuable quality.

Thanks for pointing this out, Chris.

Jeff Seager

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23918

24 Dec 2007 - 8:36pm
bminihan
2007

Thanks for sharing, Chris...very nice to see "our name in lights" even if
it's only the script-writers getting the credit. At least it's a start =].

I agree with your misgivings about the article, and can only think that our
profession is evolving such that another few years from now will see the
"User Experience Specialist" either broken down into several distinct roles
(hope not) or the definition expanded to include all that folks do here
(hope so). Just as no two "web developers" are the same, the same is true
for us.

Thanks for sharing, made my day =]

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Chris
Dame
Sent: Monday, December 24, 2007 6:48 PM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] US News thinks we have potential!

I've certainly worked in situations where this has happened. The research
is compiled, never presented, and engineers build something. However, I
think the majority of what I do happens between those two sentences.
Namely the "Design" portion. Translation of the research findings into
useful items such as personas, scenarios, usage models, use cases,
architectures, wireframes, even early functional prototypes are done by
designers, interaction included.

24 Dec 2007 - 8:42pm
bminihan
2007

Unfortunately, I knew several such leaders in the network engineering and
tech support fields, but can't recall any in web design/development (caveat:
I haven't worked in an agency or big SW shop like SAP/IBM/MS, so can only
speak for my enterprise and startup experience).

On the other hand, I have worked with many extremely good directors and
managers who went above and beyond their role in either the usability,
design, development or operations departments to bring other departments
together. They had to do so for lack of leadership above them, but it made
a huge difference when someone recognized a massive gap in communications
and did what was necessary to move forward.

It's a little like playing poker while sitting under the table and holding
your cards on top of the table.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----

I'd like to hear anyone's story about a leader you've
known who did a good job of keeping all the dots connected along the
way. Seems to me that's a rare and valuable quality.

Thanks for pointing this out, Chris.

Jeff Seager

24 Dec 2007 - 10:41pm
desiree mccrorey
2007

Chris Dame <ixda at thefake.com> wrote:
> I saw that US News recently ran an article on the "Best Careers of 2008"
> This seems like a great sign that we are nearing the tipping point, along
> with all of the good and bad things that come along with it.
>
> Personally, I was excited to see it and rushed in to see what they were
> saying.
>
> Thoughts?

Several. First, I share your excitement. But with a little hesitation. When
reporters transpose and massage info for general consumer digestion, the result
is usually something the ones in the know find too simplistic. The reporter did
qualify by stating it was an 'Executive Summary'.

The 'Day in the Life' version is pretty clueless, because, as you pointed out,
they seem to have left out a big portion - iterative design processes.

However, some folks say there's no such thing as bad publicity, right? :D

Next thought: what other careers in that list can I get into?

So I checked out the 'Ahead of the Curve' list and found that I can also
consider myself a Health Information Systems Analyst since I've specialized in
designing healthcare products/tools.

Cool set of articles. Thanks, Chris.

desiree

Desiree McCrorey
UI Architect/Web Producer
www.healthline.com
desiredcreations.com

____________________________________________________________________________________
Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your home page.
http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs

27 Dec 2007 - 10:48am
Benjamin Ho
2007

Reading the articles, they're a good starting point for those not
knowing what the occupations really entails. It's a good thing
USNews also placed resource links to more qualified information.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23918

27 Dec 2007 - 11:46am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

I'm most interested in these two points:

1) They said a Usability Specialist does design work. After that discussion
last week, I'm surprised no one jumped on this.

2) They said the median salary is over $98,000. I don't remember any salary
survey saying the median was anywhere near this high. Did I miss something?

I have other issues with the description, but these two I think are going to
cause the most trouble for someone who reads this and decides to explore the
practice as a career option.

-r-

27 Dec 2007 - 11:56am
SemanticWill
2007

Your right Robert - I was so F*&^ing pissed about the use of the term
"Specialist" that I skipped over that. As I said before - in many
agency/consulting environments - Specialist means something very specific -
that is 1-4 years at the most in experience - and no masters degree with a
median salary of around 58-68K....I can just imagine another crop of kids
getting out of undergrad like they did back in 1999 with that crazy chip on
their shoulder and a sense of entitlement thinking that i they are worth a
starting salary of 65k - for no experience whatsoever... I can just see the
nightmare coming again <whine>"But US News said I deserve a median salary of
98K"</whine> -

"Yeah Kid - and the Tooth Fairy is real and married to Santa Claus. Here's a
quarter - go buy a clue."

To get into the 90s - you best be fantastic - with over 8 years experience,
and a masters in HCI or a related field....

At least that's the market in Boston.

On 12/27/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
>
> I'm most interested in these two points:
>
> 1) They said a Usability Specialist does design work. After that
> discussion
> last week, I'm surprised no one jumped on this.
>
> 2) They said the median salary is over $98,000. I don't remember any
> salary
> survey saying the median was anywhere near this high. Did I miss
> something?
>
> I have other issues with the description, but these two I think are going
> to
> cause the most trouble for someone who reads this and decides to explore
> the
> practice as a career option.
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

27 Dec 2007 - 2:11pm
Fred Beecher
2006

On 12/27/07, W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> To get into the 90s - you best be fantastic - with over 8 years
> experience,
> and a masters in HCI or a related field....
>
> At least that's the market in Boston.

Here's the thing that gets me... if you've got 8+ years of experience a
master's program isn't going to teach you much that you haven't already
experienced in the real world. At least that's the case for the programs
I've checked into. The only difference I've seen is that there are some
programs that focus on physical product HCI vs. software. I see that as a
lateral move at best.

In my disappointment at realizing all this, I've even looked into getting an
MBA. While I think this is very useful, especially as design is becoming a
business strategy, I have procrastinated making it happen. I'm a designer...
I'm not meant to suffer through accounting classes. Ugh. : )

(But yeah, $98k as a median is ridiculous... in Minneapolis, $98k will get
you a UXP manager with 10+ years of UXP experience and maybe a few years
management experience as well... of course, Minneapolis is not NYC or SF)

- Fred

27 Dec 2007 - 1:35pm
Benjamin Ho
2007

Wow. What I'm surprised about are some people that communicate here
like they have a constant chip on their shoulder! Knock one off and
find another one on someone else.

Don't expect the media to totally understand what we do. I don't.
So feel free to get over it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23918

27 Dec 2007 - 12:54pm
Anonymous

Hello Chris,
Thanks for bringing this article to the highlight on this forum.
In India, this is a emergeing field in a nascent stage. We are more known as
"Usability Engineers", than User Experience professionals, in the Indian
market.
Quite inspiring to know what the market holds for us..

Chaitrali Dhole
Sr. Usability Engineer
Persistent Systems, India
(currently on client site in San Jose)

On 12/24/07, Chris Dame <ixda at thefake.com> wrote:
>
> I saw that US News recently ran an article on the "Best Careers of 2008"
> (http://www.usnews.com/features/business/best-careers/best-careers-2008.html
> ),
> and a new addition this year is "Usability/User Experience Specialist",
> which arguably we are. This seems like a great sign that we are nearing
> the tipping point, along with all of the good and bad things that come
> along with it.
>
> Personally, I was excited to see it and rushed in to see what they were
> saying. I have built positions where I am heavily involved in the entire
> process, from ethnography and concepting through deployment. I may be
> atypical (and lucky), and I love seeing others' descriptions of the field
> for comparison.
>
> I read the executive summary, which is nice and succinct. Then I read the
> "Day in the life" for the position
> (http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/best-careers/2007/12/19/usabilityuser-experience-specialist-a-day-in-the-life.html
> ),
> which is also succinct, but seems to miss a lot. The fact that this is
> focused on research doesn't bother me, but one paragraph does. If you
> don't want to read the short article, it is about a medical device and
> essentially states you get to know the user and business goals up until
> this paragraph.
>
> "You write a report summarizing what you've learned. Then, engineers
> develop a prototype of the product that comes closest to meeting both the
> company's and the surgeons' desires."
>
> I've certainly worked in situations where this has happened. The research
> is compiled, never presented, and engineers build something. However, I
> think the majority of what I do happens between those two sentences.
> Namely the "Design" portion. Translation of the research findings into
> useful items such as personas, scenarios, usage models, use cases,
> architectures, wireframes, even early functional prototypes are done by
> designers, interaction included.
>
> I don't think the reporter misunderstood the situation. I have spent a lot
> of time changing the "toss it over the wall" approach that a lot of
> companies employ. Checking off the research portion as done and handing
> the abstract documentation to engineers thinking it will somehow transfer
> all of the experience and understanding is unfortunately common. Science
> has a while before osmosis becomes a viable business practice.
>
> Thoughts?
>
> -Chris Dame
> http://theusabilityofthings.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

27 Dec 2007 - 3:02pm
Eva Kaniasty
2007

I, for one, am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Considering how few people actually know what we do, having our
profession featured so prominently in US News is an unequivocal win.

Am I surprised they didn't get it exactly right? Of course not. The
people who wrote the article are not.. ahem... usability specialists,
so their knowledge is going to be superficial. As far as the use of
the "specialist" title, let's face it, very few titles in the
usability field truly represent what that person is doing. They
probably had to pick a title that was the most 'representative' of the
profession.
I also bet that the salary estimate includes senior people, as well as
those at the manager/director level, in which case it seems
appropriate. I think the intent is to represent a career in
usability, not a particular job title.

-eva

On Dec 27, 2007 11:56 AM, W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Your right Robert - I was so F*&^ing pissed about the use of the term
> "Specialist" that I skipped over that. As I said before - in many
> agency/consulting environments - Specialist means something very specific -
> that is 1-4 years at the most in experience - and no masters degree with a
> median salary of around 58-68K....I can just imagine another crop of kids
> getting out of undergrad like they did back in 1999 with that crazy chip on
> their shoulder and a sense of entitlement thinking that i they are worth a
> starting salary of 65k - for no experience whatsoever... I can just see the
> nightmare coming again <whine>"But US News said I deserve a median salary of
> 98K"</whine> -
>
> "Yeah Kid - and the Tooth Fairy is real and married to Santa Claus. Here's a
> quarter - go buy a clue."
>
> To get into the 90s - you best be fantastic - with over 8 years experience,
> and a masters in HCI or a related field....
>
> At least that's the market in Boston.
>
>
>
> On 12/27/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
> >
> > I'm most interested in these two points:
> >
> > 1) They said a Usability Specialist does design work. After that
> > discussion
> > last week, I'm surprised no one jumped on this.
> >
> > 2) They said the median salary is over $98,000. I don't remember any
> > salary
> > survey saying the median was anywhere near this high. Did I miss
> > something?
> >
> > I have other issues with the description, but these two I think are going
> > to
> > cause the most trouble for someone who reads this and decides to explore
> > the
> > practice as a career option.
> >
> > -r-
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> > February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> > Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> ~ will
>
> "Where you innovate, how you innovate,
> and what you innovate are design problems"
> -------------------------------------------------------
> will evans
> user experience architect
> wkevans4 at gmail.com
> -------------------------------------------------------
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Eva Kaniasty
http://www.linkedin.com/in/kaniasty

27 Dec 2007 - 5:09pm
pnuschke
2007

Well said.

I'd also add that location makes a big difference in salary figures, and
there are a lot of UX jobs in NYC and SanFran.

Regardless, you'd think that anyone serious about the field would find a
better salary survey, such as the one UPA does every year, so that they know
what to expect.

Paul Nuschke

On Dec 27, 2007 3:02 PM, Eva <kaniasty at gmail.com> wrote:

> I, for one, am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
> Considering how few people actually know what we do, having our
> profession featured so prominently in US News is an unequivocal win.
>
> Am I surprised they didn't get it exactly right? Of course not. The
> people who wrote the article are not.. ahem... usability specialists,
> so their knowledge is going to be superficial. As far as the use of
> the "specialist" title, let's face it, very few titles in the
> usability field truly represent what that person is doing. They
> probably had to pick a title that was the most 'representative' of the
> profession.
> I also bet that the salary estimate includes senior people, as well as
> those at the manager/director level, in which case it seems
> appropriate. I think the intent is to represent a career in
> usability, not a particular job title.
>
> -eva
>
>
>
> On Dec 27, 2007 11:56 AM, W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Your right Robert - I was so F*&^ing pissed about the use of the term
> > "Specialist" that I skipped over that. As I said before - in many
> > agency/consulting environments - Specialist means something very
> specific -
> > that is 1-4 years at the most in experience - and no masters degree with
> a
> > median salary of around 58-68K....I can just imagine another crop of
> kids
> > getting out of undergrad like they did back in 1999 with that crazy chip
> on
> > their shoulder and a sense of entitlement thinking that i they are worth
> a
> > starting salary of 65k - for no experience whatsoever... I can just see
> the
> > nightmare coming again <whine>"But US News said I deserve a median
> salary of
> > 98K"</whine> -
> >
> > "Yeah Kid - and the Tooth Fairy is real and married to Santa Claus.
> Here's a
> > quarter - go buy a clue."
> >
> > To get into the 90s - you best be fantastic - with over 8 years
> experience,
> > and a masters in HCI or a related field....
> >
> > At least that's the market in Boston.
> >
> >
> >
> > On 12/27/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
> > >
> > > I'm most interested in these two points:
> > >
> > > 1) They said a Usability Specialist does design work. After that
> > > discussion
> > > last week, I'm surprised no one jumped on this.
> > >
> > > 2) They said the median salary is over $98,000. I don't remember any
> > > salary
> > > survey saying the median was anywhere near this high. Did I miss
> > > something?
> > >
> > > I have other issues with the description, but these two I think are
> going
> > > to
> > > cause the most trouble for someone who reads this and decides to
> explore
> > > the
> > > practice as a career option.
> > >
> > > -r-
> > > ________________________________________________________________
> > > *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> > > February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> > > Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
> > >
> > > ________________________________________________________________
> > > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > ~ will
> >
> > "Where you innovate, how you innovate,
> > and what you innovate are design problems"
> > -------------------------------------------------------
> > will evans
> > user experience architect
> > wkevans4 at gmail.com
> > -------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> > February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> > Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Eva Kaniasty
> http://www.linkedin.com/in/kaniasty
> ________________________________________________________________
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27 Dec 2007 - 5:19pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I, for one, am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
> Considering how few people actually know what we do, having our
> profession featured so prominently in US News is an unequivocal win.

And hey, maybe the in-house people here can use it as leverage for
negotiating better salaries. :)

-r-

27 Dec 2007 - 7:12pm
dmitryn
2004

Looks like that bit of advice is already being taken to heart - two of the
top tags for this article on del.icio.us are "pay" and "salary"...

Dmitry

On Dec 27, 2007 5:19 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:

>
> And hey, maybe the in-house people here can use it as leverage for
> negotiating better salaries. :)
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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27 Dec 2007 - 6:16pm
desiree mccrorey
2007

Fred Beecher <fbeecher at gmail.com> wrote:

> (But yeah, $98k as a median is ridiculous... in Minneapolis, $98k will get
> you a UXP manager with 10+ years of UXP experience and maybe a few years
> management experience as well... of course, Minneapolis is not NYC or SF)

I suspect places like Silicon Valley UE salaries may be responsible for skewing
things a bit. There's probably a fairly high ratio of them getting paid better
than the average bear elsewhere.

salary.com has some interesting figures for the "Interface Designers - Web"
family.

desiree

Desiree McCrorey
UI Architect/Web Producer
www.healthline.com
desiredcreations.com

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28 Dec 2007 - 4:05am
Peter Boersma
2003

Robert wrote:
> 2) They said the median salary is over $98,000. I don't remember any salary
> survey saying the median was anywhere near this high. Did I miss something?

The 2007 Salary Survey by the Information Architecture Institute (http://iainstitute.org/en/learn/research/salary_survey_2007.php) doesn't exactly say so, but it does state:
"The modal earning group is US$100,000-109,999, representing 10.8% of all respondents, a significantly larger percentage of respondents than any other earning category for this question. The mean salary was approximately $86,000."

"User Experience Designer" was the third most entered answer in the job titles category.

Peter
--
Peter Boersma | Senior Interaction Designer | Info.nl
http://www.peterboersma.com/blog | http://www.info.nl

28 Dec 2007 - 10:41am
Eva Kaniasty
2007

On Dec 27, 2007 2:11 PM, Fred Beecher <fbeecher at gmail.com> wrote:

>
> Here's the thing that gets me... if you've got 8+ years of experience a
> master's program isn't going to teach you much that you haven't already
> experienced in the real world. At least that's the case for the programs
> I've checked into. The only difference I've seen is that there are some
> programs that focus on physical product HCI vs. software. I see that as a
> lateral move at best.

I found that what I got from my Master's degree was quite different than
what I've gotten from work experience. It gave me a theoretical framework
to base my decisions on, and to better persuade others. And yes, it helps
with job choice and salary. Other than that, I would say that a huge
benefit of the Master's was networking, and making a lot of connections in
the field.

I don't think an MBA is especially useful unless you specifically want to
become a manager, and give up a lot of the 'hands on' responsibilities.

-eva

28 Dec 2007 - 1:01pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Dec 28, 2007, at 7:41 AM, Eva wrote:

> I found that what I got from my Master's degree was quite different
> than
> what I've gotten from work experience. It gave me a theoretical
> framework
> to base my decisions on, and to better persuade others. And yes, it
> helps
> with job choice and salary. Other than that, I would say that a huge
> benefit of the Master's was networking, and making a lot of
> connections in
> the field.

I agree with Eva. I had quite a few years work experience when I got
my M.Des. and it was the theory and training I wouldn't--couldn't--
have gotten elsewhere that made the whole experience worthwhile. Yes,
there was some, "Well, duh," moments, but it certainly wasn't all
overlapping.

Dan

Dan Saffer, M.Des., IDSA
Experience Design Director, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

28 Dec 2007 - 2:12pm
Phil Chung
2007

I concur with Dan and Eva, although I think it depends largely on the type of work you're doing. My doctoral work in HCI definitely transferred to my applied work in the wireless industry, particularly with call analytics, usability testing, and field research. I'm also better able to defend my recommendations and designs against power hungry PMs using statistics and proper research methods. Knowledge of human factors guidelines, seminal research, and methods in human factors (many being "rediscovered" by practitioners in the field) such as KLM, for predicting the impact of business critical designs, has been helpful. Of course, I don't carry them out to the same detail as I may have
while doing research in school.

Someone brought up the MBA -- I'm
also pursuing one of those part-time, and it's been helpful to the extent
that it provides context (i.e., business language and awareness) in which to make my recommendations to the
business, particularly with analytics work, since I don't have an undergraduate business degree. Nothing that couldn't be learned on my own for sure, but it is definitely speeding up the process.

Finally, as Dan alluded to, my design (grad and undergrad) coursework also gave me an arena in which to explore things I simply have not been able to at my job. Academia is a great place to work on one of those "wouldn't it be cool if?" things that we don't have time for in the real-world.. like the Google search engine.

http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html

Phil

----- Original Message ----
From: Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com>
To: IxDA Discuss <discuss at ixda.org>
Sent: Friday, December 28, 2007 1:01:38 PM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] US News thinks we have potential!

On Dec 28, 2007, at 7:41 AM, Eva wrote:

> I found that what I got from my Master's degree was quite different
> than
> what I've gotten from work experience. It gave me a theoretical
> framework
> to base my decisions on, and to better persuade others. And yes, it

> helps
> with job choice and salary. Other than that, I would say that a huge
> benefit of the Master's was networking, and making a lot of
> connections in
> the field.

I agree with Eva. I had quite a few years work experience when I got
my M.Des. and it was the theory and training I wouldn't--couldn't--
have gotten elsewhere that made the whole experience worthwhile. Yes,
there was some, "Well, duh," moments, but it certainly wasn't all
overlapping.

Dan

Dan Saffer, M.Des., IDSA
Experience Design Director, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

________________________________________________________________
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February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
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28 Dec 2007 - 2:38pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Graduate education is really such a personal decision. I think Dan and
Eva outlined all the great reasons there can be for doing it. Then
there is just taking that time to explore things for yourself. Doing
a thesis at a program like ITP or an ID masters can be quite a
cathartic and well self fulfilling task that ends up nurturing your
soul.

I have struggled for years with the "to go or not to go" mostly b/c
I've followed the careers of people like Dan with an air of jealous.

To me I've always had to face the cost:benefit:ego fulfillment
ratios with a lot of due diligence. Now that I have a family it is
even more difficult, though I feel the pull towards post-graduate
work, as I balance my career between worker bee and thought
leader/manager.

I don't think a grad degree is necessary, but it definitely will
have benefits for those who can take advantage of them and lateral
benefits are pretty powerful right now as design careers really have
a pretty thick glass ceiling. I mean there are only so many Ive,
Behars, etc. out there. And well NONE in interaction. ;)

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23918

28 Dec 2007 - 3:33pm
SemanticWill
2007

Dave,

You bring up an interesting point about the glass ceiling in the
design/IxD/IA fields - you get to a point where you either start
mentoring and managing and Not designing - or stay in the same
position and be happy or ??? What? Start your own firm? Try and
compete with some of the great firms out there like Adaptive Path?
Then - you spend alot of time doing admin and marketing and not
designing...

Any one else encounter the glass ceiling? What did you do?

will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
617.281.1281

On Dec 28, 2007, at 11:38 AM, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

> Graduate education is really such a personal decision. I think Dan and
> Eva outlined all the great reasons there can be for doing it. Then
> there is just taking that time to explore things for yourself. Doing
> a thesis at a program like ITP or an ID masters can be quite a
> cathartic and well self fulfilling task that ends up nurturing your
> soul.
>
> I have struggled for years with the "to go or not to go" mostly b/c
> I've followed the careers of people like Dan with an air of jealous.
>
> To me I've always had to face the cost:benefit:ego fulfillment
> ratios with a lot of due diligence. Now that I have a family it is
> even more difficult, though I feel the pull towards post-graduate
> work, as I balance my career between worker bee and thought
> leader/manager.
>
> I don't think a grad degree is necessary, but it definitely will
> have benefits for those who can take advantage of them and lateral
> benefits are pretty powerful right now as design careers really have
> a pretty thick glass ceiling. I mean there are only so many Ive,
> Behars, etc. out there. And well NONE in interaction. ;)
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23918
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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28 Dec 2007 - 3:58pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 28, 2007, at 12:33 PM, William Evans wrote:
> Any one else encounter the glass ceiling? What did you do?

There's not really a glass ceiling in this field yet, in large part
due to the fact that the field can't even define what it is that we
do with any consistency, much less what we do in particular markets.
(For example, is interaction design really for digital mediums like
software or web products or any type of industry, like the whole
"service" segment.)

In other words, there's still time to take your job by the reigns if
you are so inclined.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

28 Dec 2007 - 4:01pm
Fred Beecher
2006

On Fri, 28 Dec 2007 11:38:59, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
> Graduate education is really such a personal decision. I think Dan and
> Eva outlined all the great reasons there can be for doing it. Then
> there is just taking that time to explore things for yourself. Doing
> a thesis at a program like ITP or an ID masters can be quite a
> cathartic and well self fulfilling task that ends up nurturing your
> soul.
>
> To me I've always had to face the cost:benefit:ego fulfillment
> ratios with a lot of due diligence. Now that I have a family it is
> even more difficult, though I feel the pull towards post-graduate

Exactly. Is ego fulfillment worth the $20-40k? If I were single, maybe. If a
lateral move would result in a significant pay raise, maybe. But the truth
is that an IxD with enough experience, these days, is so in demand that this
huge pile of cash may not be a wise investment.

And responding to Dan and Eva's thoughts about graduate education teaching
you the "why" behind the decisions we make as designers... don't we already
do that through user research? Granted, this is "the why" on a much
different level, the level of context. The way I'm interpreting what they
said is that a graduate degree will give you the whys about smaller design
decisions... personally, I've never needed to justify those decisions (they
are, though, based on my functional understanding of color, typography,
layout) ... only the big decisions are the ones that typically require
justification.

Notice how above I said "interpreted..." so did I interpret wrongly? Because
I'm still sitting here thinking that it would take some serious promise of
advancement for me to make a huge investment in a graduate education.

Thoughts?

Fred

28 Dec 2007 - 1:21pm
Christian Beck
2007

Robert's point is well-taken: "They said a Usability Specialist does
design work. After that discussion last week, I'm surprised no one
jumped on this."

That was my initial reaction as well. In my graduate coursework in
HCI, we were taught usability techniques. However, I don't consider
myself a Usability Engineer. Nor do I consider Usability Engineers to
be Interaction Designers. The description of that job title is wrong
to confuse the two. I'm sure many people are doing portions of both
jobs with each title just as there are plenty of programmers that do
the interaction design at many companies. This doesn't mean it's
the way it should be.

I suppose it's good that the article is bringing this field to
light, but the confusion over what Usability Engineers do shows how
young this field is.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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28 Dec 2007 - 3:19pm
Susanne Furman
2007

HI all
Thanks to Eva. I work in an environment that anyone who 'thinks'
they know how to do usability claims the title. People with BAs in
English. NOW - I can rewire my switch plates in my house - but I will
never claim to be an electrician!!! What this causes is little respect
for the disclipine because many of these people don't understand
research methodology. So even though they do usability testing (for
example) the test methodology is so poor that any and all results are
at question. So - I think that having a proper educational component
to the career is essential. That way I don't have my directors
saying that really what value does this have. Then I have to answer
that I have never seen anything like this in major corporations I
have worked at outside the government.
I have a PhD in Applied Experimental Psychology Human Factors and do
make more than the median. Not sure where they got the info.
Susanne

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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28 Dec 2007 - 4:27pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Any one else encounter the glass ceiling? What did you do?

I may have hit, or at least encroached, the glass ceiling for Phoenix, but
for me, the decision to start my own firm came from the realization that by
joining another company, I'd become an anonymous cog in the machine. Instead
of abandoning my identity and churning out designs for a single company, I
thought I'd do much better on my own, not only financially, but I'd also be
able to work with more companies on a wider variety of projects.

I definitely spend more time now than ever before on marketing and
management, but it's not because of the competition, it's because it's a new
business that needs to build up a reputation of its own, and because ...
well, I'm new at running a business and am bound to make boatloads of
mistakes along the way.

That said, our business model is unique enough that I don't really feel like
I'm competing with anyone, and some upcoming strategic changes will solidify
that even more. It's far better to be *different* than to compete with 1,000
other firms doing the same thing with varying levels of
talent/skill/experience/education.

-r-

28 Dec 2007 - 6:15pm
Phil Chung
2007

"Exactly. Is ego fulfillment worth the $20-40k? If I were single, maybe.
If a
lateral move would result in a significant pay raise, maybe. But the
truth
is that an IxD with enough experience, these days, is so in demand that
this
huge pile of cash may not be a wise investment."

I'm under 30 and single, so perhaps I'm not in the appropriate demographic to respond. Also, I do both interaction design (Flash, IVR, and wireframes) and research.

But I wholly agree with Dave's (and others) point that the decision to get a grad degree depends entirely on your personal situation / goals. This also pertains to the glass ceiling discussion, but I think the field is still new and large enough that we can be creative about our personal niche in it, as Andrei and Robert note. In your case, it sounds like you're where you want to be, so why bother ($20-40k is a very conservative estimate for the cost of a graduate education)?

On the other hand, if you want to let go of the hands on design and be the Director of User Experience at a Fortune 500 company, join an elite management consulting firm as a domain expert, or teach at a top design program in the long-term, the grad degree may generate ROI over the whole of your career. Most of the salary surveys out there that provide a breakdown by education and job descriptions for these top positions will confirm this. It can also just be a great way to take time off in the Ivory tower networking and dreaming up cool stuff with other designers in a place like Stanford's d-school... and in the process launch your
own company, as I alluded to earlier.

Phil

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28 Dec 2007 - 7:52pm
P Maher
2007

Hi all,
I have recently discovered IxD as a discipline and I am very
interested in it. I am an electronic engineer(Msc) with 5 yrs Industy
experience in design,research and management. My question is: Is there
any room for electronic engineers in IxD?
My background is digital design (System on Chip)and signal
processing, but I also have a strong programming background. I have
no experience in interaction design other than doing some very basic
Java GUIs many years ago, plus a final year project in head tracking
and music generation. I also have a degree in English Literature and
have completed courses in cognitive and pedagogical psychology. I am
reluctant to go back to studying full-time in order to get an IxD
qualification.
Can anyone give me advice on how I might obtain experience/a job?(I
am based in Europe)
Thanks P

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23918

29 Dec 2007 - 9:31am
Dave Malouf
2005

The short answer to your question is "YES!!!".

There is so much need for people doing hardware design to be thinking
about what they do from the perspective of user behavior and context
of use. Having worked for a technology leader for the last year, I
really see how thinking about technology first and foremost (must
create patent) really leads the design direction into weird
spaces/places.

Now your next question is probably going to be "how?", right?

Well, first off, in your current work if there is no interaction
designer, BE the interaction designer. Read up on blogs and books
(search this archive for lots on books discussions), and start
applying what you learn. Don't worry about process so much as
applying theory at first.

Then I would highly recommend taking the Cooper Practicum. It is a
great dive into IxD, research, and analysis and if you are bold then
take their courses and communicating design and visual design. That
would lead to a 1-2-3-4 punch. What's good about their courses is
that they do everything: software, hardware, and webware and so they
would be good for someone like you. Must other offerings tend to
steer more towards software/webware (mostly webware).

Enjoy! and Welcome ...

DUH!!! Oh! come to Interaction08 in Savannah in February and sit down
and talk to people who are DOING the work that you are reading about
here. http://interaction08.ixda.org/

We have already over 300 attendees signed up and we are going to
sellout within 1 or 2 weeks after New Years!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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29 Dec 2007 - 3:27pm
P Maher
2007

Hi Dave,
Thanks, for the tips. I am really looking for a course in Europe but
I like your idea of just being the interaction designer. Not many
apps with interaction in my group but am not adverse to changing to
another group which does.
If anyone knows of such a course in europe please let me know, or
where i might get experience.
Anyone in Europe looking for a bilingual, socially atuned, creative
and technically adept hardware and software engineer?
..If so drop me a line.
Thanks again.
P

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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29 Dec 2007 - 4:15pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 29, 2007, at 6:31 AM, dave malouf wrote:

> Having worked for a technology leader for the last year, I
> really see how thinking about technology first and foremost (must
> create patent) really leads the design direction into weird
> spaces/places.

I agree whole heartedly with this. It's also one of the reasons why
"user centered design" is a fallacy and a very wrong-headed label
used in our field. Digital product design is not user centered nor
technology centered. It always has and always will be both.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

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