The state of UI/UX employment.

21 Feb 2010 - 12:01am
3 years ago
39 replies
4784 reads
Georgette Sulllivan
2009

I have been reading the IXDA discussions for a couple of years, I
noticed a steady increase in employment posting over the last few
months. Is the increase in employment post a true reflection of an
increase UI/UX employment?

georgette

Comments

21 Feb 2010 - 9:38am
Erin Stewart
2010

I noticed this as well. Originally I was planning to look for my next
job in the fall, but with the amount of positions open now and with
the fear that this is temporary (though I would hope that it will be
a continued term), I decided to start applying now with the hope to
start in May. I submitted a few applications for positions in the DC
area on Monday/Tuesday this week and had received two calls for phone
interviews by the end of the week. Both places made it clear they had
an urgent need to hire someone. The positions (UI design/development)
are for someone with 1-3 yrs experience and I have 1.5 years
experience doing front-end web development and UX/IA tasks for a
college, some graduate-level coursework in a related field, and some
digital PR internship experience.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

21 Feb 2010 - 2:42pm
susandoran
2010

I've noticed more positions that require 1-3 yrs experience. Also...sort of
"kitchen sink" loading on a mish-mash of skillsets.

On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 1:38 AM, Erin Stewart <emstewart at smcm.edu> wrote:

> I noticed this as well. Originally I was planning to look for my next
> job in the fall, but with the amount of positions open now and with
> the fear that this is temporary (though I would hope that it will be
> a continued term), I decided to start applying now with the hope to
> start in May. I submitted a few applications for positions in the DC
> area on Monday/Tuesday this week and had received two calls for phone
> interviews by the end of the week. Both places made it clear they had
> an urgent need to hire someone. The positions (UI design/development)
> are for someone with 1-3 yrs experience and I have 1.5 years
> experience doing front-end web development and UX/IA tasks for a
> college, some graduate-level coursework in a related field, and some
> digital PR internship experience.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

--

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Susan Doran
55 Morning Street
Portland ME 04101
207-774-4963 (land)
202-296-4849 (cell)

/susandoran (facebook)
@susandoran (twitter)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

21 Feb 2010 - 2:59pm
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

So in other words, people want to pay for 1-3 years of experience, but
they want to get a laundry list of massive skillz.

Good luck with that.

-Anne

On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 2:42 PM, Susan Doran <susandoran at gmail.com> wrote:
> I've noticed more positions that require 1-3 yrs experience. Also...sort of
> "kitchen sink" loading on a mish-mash of skillsets.
>
> On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 1:38 AM, Erin Stewart <emstewart at smcm.edu> wrote:
>
>> I noticed this as well. Originally I was planning to look for my next
>> job in the fall, but with the amount of positions open now and with
>> the fear that this is temporary (though I would hope that it will be
>> a continued term), I decided to start applying now with the hope to
>> start in May. I submitted a few applications for positions in the DC
>> area on Monday/Tuesday this week and had received two calls for phone
>> interviews by the end of the week. Both places made it clear they had
>> an urgent need to hire someone. The positions (UI design/development)
>> are for someone with 1-3 yrs experience and I have 1.5 years
>> experience doing front-end web development and UX/IA tasks for a
>> college, some graduate-level coursework in a related field, and some
>> digital PR internship experience.
>>
>>
>> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>> Posted from the new ixda.org
>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> 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
>>
>
>
>
> --
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Susan Doran
> 55 Morning Street
> Portland ME 04101
> 207-774-4963 (land)
> 202-296-4849 (cell)
>
> /susandoran  (facebook)
> @susandoran (twitter)
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

--
Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."

21 Feb 2010 - 3:15pm
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

... and I mean "good luck" to the recruiters listing these roles, not to Susan.

-A

On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 2:59 PM, Anne Hjortshoj <anne at annehj.com> wrote:
> So in other words, people want to pay for 1-3 years of experience, but
> they want to get a laundry list of massive skillz.
>
> Good luck with that.
>
> -Anne
>
> On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 2:42 PM, Susan Doran <susandoran at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I've noticed more positions that require 1-3 yrs experience. Also...sort of
>> "kitchen sink" loading on a mish-mash of skillsets.
>>
>> On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 1:38 AM, Erin Stewart <emstewart at smcm.edu> wrote:
>>
>>> I noticed this as well. Originally I was planning to look for my next
>>> job in the fall, but with the amount of positions open now and with
>>> the fear that this is temporary (though I would hope that it will be
>>> a continued term), I decided to start applying now with the hope to
>>> start in May. I submitted a few applications for positions in the DC
>>> area on Monday/Tuesday this week and had received two calls for phone
>>> interviews by the end of the week. Both places made it clear they had
>>> an urgent need to hire someone. The positions (UI design/development)
>>> are for someone with 1-3 yrs experience and I have 1.5 years
>>> experience doing front-end web development and UX/IA tasks for a
>>> college, some graduate-level coursework in a related field, and some
>>> digital PR internship experience.
>>>
>>>
>>> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>>> Posted from the new ixda.org
>>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535
>>>
>>>
>>> ________________________________________________________________
>>> 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
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> Susan Doran
>> 55 Morning Street
>> Portland ME 04101
>> 207-774-4963 (land)
>> 202-296-4849 (cell)
>>
>> /susandoran  (facebook)
>> @susandoran (twitter)
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> 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
>>
>
>
>
> --
> Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
> Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."
>

--
Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."

21 Feb 2010 - 3:28pm
Vicky Teinaki
2008

Still, it's a good sign for recent grads - up until recently there's been
the experience catch-22 with jobs (most of those advertised up until now
have been for at least 3 years experience), so at least it gives those
recently out of school a chance to chalk up time, even if they have to do
hard slog with those 'massive skillz'

On Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 9:15 AM, Anne Hjortshoj <anne at annehj.com> wrote:

> ... and I mean "good luck" to the recruiters listing these roles, not to
> Susan.
>
> -A
>
> On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 2:59 PM, Anne Hjortshoj <anne at annehj.com> wrote:
> > So in other words, people want to pay for 1-3 years of experience, but
> > they want to get a laundry list of massive skillz.
> >
> > Good luck with that.
> >
> > -Anne
> >
> > On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 2:42 PM, Susan Doran <susandoran at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >> I've noticed more positions that require 1-3 yrs experience. Also...sort
> of
> >> "kitchen sink" loading on a mish-mash of skillsets.
> >>
> >> On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 1:38 AM, Erin Stewart <emstewart at smcm.edu>
> wrote:
> >>
> >>> I noticed this as well. Originally I was planning to look for my next
> >>> job in the fall, but with the amount of positions open now and with
> >>> the fear that this is temporary (though I would hope that it will be
> >>> a continued term), I decided to start applying now with the hope to
> >>> start in May. I submitted a few applications for positions in the DC
> >>> area on Monday/Tuesday this week and had received two calls for phone
> >>> interviews by the end of the week. Both places made it clear they had
> >>> an urgent need to hire someone. The positions (UI design/development)
> >>> are for someone with 1-3 yrs experience and I have 1.5 years
> >>> experience doing front-end web development and UX/IA tasks for a
> >>> college, some graduate-level coursework in a related field, and some
> >>> digital PR internship experience.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> >>> Posted from the new ixda.org
> >>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> ________________________________________________________________
> >>> 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
> >>>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> --
> >>
> >> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> >> Susan Doran
> >> 55 Morning Street
> >> Portland ME 04101
> >> 207-774-4963 (land)
> >> 202-296-4849 (cell)
> >>
> >> /susandoran (facebook)
> >> @susandoran (twitter)
> >> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> >> ________________________________________________________________
> >> 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
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
> > Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
> Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

--
Vicky Teinaki
Email: vicky.teinaki at gmail.com | Mobile: +64 021 027 01410 | Skype:
vicky.teinaki | Twitter: @vickytnz | LinkedIn :
http://nz.linkedin.com/in/vickyteinaki

21 Feb 2010 - 3:30pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I think this discussion board has become the default and go to posting
venue.

On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 2:28 PM, Vicky Teinaki <vicky.teinaki at gmail.com>wrote:

> Still, it's a good sign for recent grads - up until recently there's been
> the experience catch-22 with jobs (most of those advertised up until now
> have been for at least 3 years experience), so at least it gives those
> recently out of school a chance to chalk up time, even if they have to do
> hard slog with those 'massive skillz'
>
>
>
> On Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 9:15 AM, Anne Hjortshoj <anne at annehj.com> wrote:
>
> > ... and I mean "good luck" to the recruiters listing these roles, not to
> > Susan.
> >
> > -A
> >
> > On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 2:59 PM, Anne Hjortshoj <anne at annehj.com> wrote:
> > > So in other words, people want to pay for 1-3 years of experience, but
> > > they want to get a laundry list of massive skillz.
> > >
> > > Good luck with that.
> > >
> > > -Anne
> > >
> > > On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 2:42 PM, Susan Doran <susandoran at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> > >> I've noticed more positions that require 1-3 yrs experience.
> Also...sort
> > of
> > >> "kitchen sink" loading on a mish-mash of skillsets.
> > >>
> > >> On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 1:38 AM, Erin Stewart <emstewart at smcm.edu>
> > wrote:
> > >>
> > >>> I noticed this as well. Originally I was planning to look for my next
> > >>> job in the fall, but with the amount of positions open now and with
> > >>> the fear that this is temporary (though I would hope that it will be
> > >>> a continued term), I decided to start applying now with the hope to
> > >>> start in May. I submitted a few applications for positions in the DC
> > >>> area on Monday/Tuesday this week and had received two calls for phone
> > >>> interviews by the end of the week. Both places made it clear they had
> > >>> an urgent need to hire someone. The positions (UI design/development)
> > >>> are for someone with 1-3 yrs experience and I have 1.5 years
> > >>> experience doing front-end web development and UX/IA tasks for a
> > >>> college, some graduate-level coursework in a related field, and some
> > >>> digital PR internship experience.
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> > >>> Posted from the new ixda.org
> > >>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>> ________________________________________________________________
> > >>> 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
> > >>>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> --
> > >>
> > >> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> > >> Susan Doran
> > >> 55 Morning Street
> > >> Portland ME 04101
> > >> 207-774-4963 (land)
> > >> 202-296-4849 (cell)
> > >>
> > >> /susandoran (facebook)
> > >> @susandoran (twitter)
> > >> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> > >> ________________________________________________________________
> > >> 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
> > >>
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
> > > Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
> > Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > 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
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Vicky Teinaki
> Email: vicky.teinaki at gmail.com | Mobile: +64 021 027 01410 | Skype:
> vicky.teinaki | Twitter: @vickytnz | LinkedIn :
> http://nz.linkedin.com/in/vickyteinaki
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

21 Feb 2010 - 3:45pm
jet
2008

Anne Hjortshoj wrote:
> So in other words, people want to pay for 1-3 years of experience, but
> they want to get a laundry list of massive skillz.

That's what my wife has been running into lately. Job openings for
someone with 2-5 years of experience but with a list of requirements she
still doesn't have after ~20 years as a designer and IA.

--
J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
Design, Fabrication, Hacking
design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

21 Feb 2010 - 3:51pm
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

As I was saying in a side conversation with Susan, in better news: the
market for independent (contract) UXDers seems to be revivifying,
finally. I've had several good conversations in the last month with
recruiters for positions and pay scales that are in line with my
interests and my experience. So perhaps that particular drought is at
an end.

I think it will take at least another six months for the
full-time/perm market to catch up. People's budgets simply aren't
there yet, even if their needs are.

-Anne

On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 3:45 PM, j. eric townsend <jet at flatline.net> wrote:
> Anne Hjortshoj wrote:
>>
>> So in other words, people want to pay for 1-3 years of experience, but
>> they want to get a laundry list of massive skillz.
>
> That's what my wife has been running into lately.   Job openings for someone
> with 2-5 years of experience but with a list of requirements she still
> doesn't have after ~20 years as a designer and IA.
>
> --
> J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
> Design, Fabrication, Hacking
> design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net;  HF: KG6ZVQ
> PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8
>

--
Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."

21 Feb 2010 - 3:57pm
Dave Malouf
2005

This issue is generational and not one of asking for too much.
I'd say a good 90% of us who have over 10yrs (hell over 5yrs)
experience do not have Bachelor degrees in computer design (new
media, web design, etc.)

That reality is no longer true. There are a growing # of degree
programs that include programming, visual design, and human-centered
thinking than ever before.

yes, it is still growing, but to poo poo it as unreasonable, I think
is putting your head in the sand. This will catch up to us.

Now all you youngins who are straight out of school or even in
school. Look at these job requirements and kick some ass!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

2 Mar 2010 - 8:27am
Erin Stewart
2010

I definitely agree that people are looking for a huge set of skills for 1-3 years of experience. I sympathize with more experienced professionals that see less positions open that are willing to pay them.

For those of you that have been in the field awhile, what should these 1-3 years with a lot of skills positions be paying?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

21 Feb 2010 - 4:47pm
jet
2008

Dave Malouf wrote:
> That reality is no longer true. There are a growing # of degree
> programs that include programming, visual design, and human-centered
> thinking than ever before.

I agree that there are a lot of people fresh out of college with design
degrees that have touched Java, AJAX, Flash and the like. (I've helped
with classes where they were students, even.) And there are
corresponding entry-level job openings out there for which they are very
qualified.

However, we see plenty of listings out here that have a laundry list of
technologies *and* a list of experience requirements that nobody has
straight out of college. They clearly want a senior, experienced
person who is both an excellent designer and technologist, but they
stick "2-4 years experience" in the listing for reasons I don't exactly
understand.

Maybe it's to lower the salary expectations?

--
J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
Design, Fabrication, Hacking
design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

21 Feb 2010 - 5:59pm
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

> Maybe it's to lower the salary expectations?

That's my assumption.

-Anne

21 Feb 2010 - 6:09pm
susandoran
2010

Dave

Agreed that it's partly generational.

But it's more than "generational," in terms of individuals and their generations. It's generational, in terms of evolution of our profession(s).

We're entering our professions' third generation.

As I said offline to Anne, what we're now seeing---in terms of positions requiring 1-3 years of experience and an impressively broad array and depth of skills/experience---is macroeconomic---hiring agents in a sluggish economy looking to get much more for much less.

AND it's a result of proliferating IxD-related academic programs pumping out newly minted designers---hence, a rapidly growing supply pool.

It's also the mixed blessing result in our-all selling to employers that they *need* to hire IxDs....the "mixed" part being employers often do not really understand what that means, or what they should be looking for.

So portfolios that are the byproducts of classes where students are graded on well-rendered wireframes become *evidence *of competency, sharp thinking, experience, and creativity -- rather than as artifacts/documentation that may serve as a jumping-off point for conversations in which competency, sharp thinking, experience, and creativity can be explored.

Looking at deliverables as core indicator of employee potential (etc), hiring agents will not see appreciable difference between someone with 1-3 yrs experience and someone with 7-10 yrs experience. And may not inderstand the appreciable differences in candidates---in terms of experience, insight, thinking, and perspective that aren't to be found in the deliverables themselves

Current situation *is *fortunate for recent grads -- and there's a proliferation of them. That "supply pool" will continue to grow.

Not as favorable for people who do have the years/depth of experience/skills. And not favorable for "the profession" qua profession. Looking at many technical professions -- and I'll include engineering, architecture, law, medicine -- distinctions are made among practitioners with various years of experience. Not everyone is regarded or compensated equally, once they've received their degree(s). Experience is seen as more than extraneous years clocked in.

None of the above is about sticking one's head in the sand. Discussing and exploring what's happening -- and why -- is important to the further maturity of our professions. To articulate a reality is not to deny it...or even necessarily to assail it.

Those who've chosen to teach are, thus, at least somewhat focused on sending newly minted undergraduates into the world and nabbing jobs at as high a level of pay as possible. That's a metric of their success as professors.

If undergrad degree programs are successful at creating a high-job-placement/salary track record, the value of the program is demonstrated to the institution, the program gets more resources, faculty, funding, attracts more talented students -- benefits the college -- and the program itself grows. Traditionally, any art/design undergraduate who can pop into the world with a BA and earn $70K is doing very well.

Nothing wrong with the above. But that's one, academia-oriented set of goals and agenda.

Not necessarily synonymous with the long-term goals, agenda, and sustainability of a profession (or set of professions). And, yet, may be effecting tremendous change in the market, and therefore in the professions.

btw -- like Anne, I'm seeing a promising uptick in 2010 in terms of hiring (I'm a contractor by choice) that rewards and remunerates for complexity, depth, and breadth of thinking and experience!

-- Susan

btw Dave said "a good 90% of us who have over 10yrs (hell over 5yrs) experience do not have Bachelor degrees in computer design (new media, web design, etc.)." But I believe--also I have no citations, which is lame of both of us---that surveys from years past re: people's backgrounds and salaries, *did *indicate high levels of people with masters-level education in MFA, ethnography/sociology, computer science, library science, MBA etc on one hand -- and on the other hand, many who were completely self-taught, often without college degrees -- and at one point not long ago, like 2004-05, education was often touted as elitist and often irrelevant - remember that?! But that was generation 2...

21 Feb 2010 - 8:56pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008

To be fair, skill laundry lists are common in lots of fields. For
example in IT, there are some ads with very silly requirements
especially when the final salary is taken into account.

Part of this may be for recruiters to get more "bang for their
buck", but another part might be a lack of insight into how the
field actually works. Consider the number of ads even here asking for
"interactive designers" when they want "interaction designers"; or
several ads I've come across in my travels asking for X years
experience in a particular toolset when the toolset had not existed
that long.

As a question to this group, did the recruiters that put out these
ads seem clued up about IxD/IA/UXD? Or are did they seem more like
jumping on the latest bandwagon?

Perhaps if we could examine some of these ads ourselves, it might be
useful feedback for recruiters (e.g., "No, you shouldn't expect
that level of effective skill for someone with less than 5 years
experience but you're asking for new graduates"). Comments?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

21 Feb 2010 - 10:37pm
Paul Sherman
2006

FWIW, I've noticed that recruiters know much more about UX than they did even 3 years ago. I think this is in no small part to the efforts of IxDA, UPA, and some of the private groups like Forrester who publish "state of the UX industry" type of reports.

I led the UPA's UX salary survey from 2005 to 2009, which was three report cycles. In the beginning, when the reports circulated it seemed that most of the questions I received from recruiters were of the "what is UX" variety. By the 2009 survey, recruiters knew the key terms and skill sets, primary job descriptions, and most importantly they knew how to interpret what employers were asking for. They weren't just parroting phrases to prospective hires.

E.g.,
2005 - "I need an interactive designer (sic), do you know of one?"
2010 - "I'm looking for someone who can help a product team conduct early-stage design research, create personas and conceptual designs, and iterate the designs based on further data collection."

BTW, in case anybody wants the "free to all" version of the 2009 UPA salary survey, you can get it at the link below. Yes, UPA's web site needs work. And yes, they're working hard on updating it. http://bit.ly/cpCOr7

I handed off the project to current board members at the end of the year, but if you have f.b. please @ me and I'll pass it to the salary survey project team.

Wow, did I just slip into tweetspeak back there?

-Paul

- - - - - - -
Paul Sherman
paul at ShermanUX.com
www.ShermanUX.com
+1.512.917.1942
- - - - - - -

21 Feb 2010 - 12:30am
smoulden
2010

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone could offer some advice to us recent
college graduates with graphic design degrees where to truly start
their career as UI/UX designers. Obviously there are multiple roads
to the same place but what's a good road map?

Thanks,
Shelby

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

22 Feb 2010 - 11:29am
Zach_at_Paladin
2010

I happen to be one of these recruiters and I can assure you there is
definitely an increase in UX jobs. I have been doing creative, web
and advertising recruiting for almost 7 years now and I have never
seen this kind of demand for UX/IA talent. I have done nothing for
the last 2 months but work on UX and Interaction design jobs. Sure I
had to Wikipedia a few of the buzz words, and not all recruiters your
are going to speak with are going to have the industry trends and
verbage down just perfect. However, that has nothing to do with the
fact that there are companies/agencies hiring and these recruiters
have direct access to their hiring manager and decision makers...

If anyone is interested in hearing specifically about what I mean and
what I am seeing, please feel free to contact me directly
zach at paladinstaff.com or 972-813-0451.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

22 Feb 2010 - 1:08pm
Dave Malouf
2005

hmm? I think I'm just not that cynical.

the lion's share of job reqs I've ever been a part of were created by the hiring department and not by the recruitment staff. When I've been a hiring manager the only reason I created laundry lists like these is b/c the budgets required it. Not to lower salary, but b/c the reality is that unless you can make shit, your skills as a designer to communicate to all stakeholders is severely limited.

I have also learned that from my perspective for Jr. designers, I can mentor UCD stuff a lot easier and in shorter time than I can a laundry list of technical and tool stuff. I know this is the opposite of what even I have expressed in the past, but I have learned over the years that an amazing UI Developer with an open mind is easily convertable to the UX frameworks. But it is DAMN hard to ramp up a pure UXer on programming beyond simple script coding--i.e. advanced actionscript, java, .NET3.5+, etc. (those are NOT simple script coding).

Flash Catalyst so far seems to be a breaking point where I can make stuff real, but I haven't seen examples of data manipulation yet.

-- dave

22 Feb 2010 - 2:08pm
nhoh
2004

As a hiring manager in the past I have put a laundry list of skills in job postings because those were for my ultimate candidate. The way I looked at it is if I could find someone with all those skills why wouldn't I want to hire them. At the same time I hope it doesn't deter folks from applying because they only have 75% of the skills I asked for or maybe 6 months instead of year of experience. If you're not a perfect match, but you think you can do the job write in your cover letter/email why the skills you have will make up for deficiencies you may currently have and tell me how you'd make up for the deficiencies.

22 Feb 2010 - 4:19pm
susandoran
2010

Dave Am I understanding

but b/c the reality is that unless you can make shit, your skills as a designer to communicate to all stakeholders is severely limited.

this to mean you believe that everyone needs to know how to physically build now? that the roles of researcher, business/user requirements gatherer and interpreter, communicator, integrator, and concept designer do not stand on their own? thanks Susan

22 Feb 2010 - 6:57pm
Joe Sokohl
2004

I have also seen a trend of offering low wages on the basis of the
recession's effect. As one of my Twitter friends said, "If you pay
banans, you end up with monkeys."

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

22 Feb 2010 - 10:00pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Susan,

I don't think this is an all or nothing thing. I am responding to
this thread and people reflexively condemning these types of job
descriptions. I used to be one of these people who would stand up on
the soapbox on challenge the requirement of visual & even prototyping
skills along side interaction design skills that you listed.

Having dug deep into recent EDU changes this past year I have seen
students who do amazing work as conceptual and analytical designers
who also have the skills to visualize and execute their concepts into
prototypes. Are they doing production code? probably not, but they
aren't that far off and if I literally went across the street to
another program at my school they could. And I know that SCAD is not
alone in having programs of such breadth and depth.

So my message is more of a warning, than it is a proclamation of the
way it has to be. It is a complication for those of us (yup, me too!)
who after 17 years of doing conceptual and analytical design have not
really learned how to master prototyping at truly high fidelity of
both look and behavior.

if I was to make a prediction for the next 5 years, I would say that
the breaks are going to exist mostly between researcher, ux
designer/developers, and then business logic developers. but in many
cases the researcher and UX designer will be maintained through
visual and non-production prototyping and then there will be a UI
developer (using software as he model).

I also don't think this is going to be uniform across all design
theaters. Some will offer things the way they are now. Others will
come up with new formulas that fit their needs. The reality is that
there is no single way to break these down. So much of it is
contextual.

But what I didn't like in this thread is the de facto condemnation
and cynicism of this approach that is being attacked.

Hope that helps to clarify.

-- dave
-- dave

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

23 Feb 2010 - 12:02am
susandoran
2010

Dave

Great post, thanks -- really interesting perspective!

And as a professor you're actively shaping the market/profession, as well as responding, as I suppose we all are :)

Susan

22 Feb 2010 - 9:11pm
farmiga
2010

I'd like to start this reply with a pre-emptive "thank you" for
reading along in case it gets a bit wordy; this is a topic very
near/dear to me.

I too have noticed on twitter, and on the various nonMonster job
boards that words like "usability", "user experience", are being
mixed in more and more with the UX / UI / IxD tags thrown in as well.
This is relatively "fresh" and not the usual 'web developer'
posts that I've been used to seeing for years now.

Fresh has it's questionable freshness factor though (as was
commented on numerous times in the comments preceding mine) - it
seems that someone in HR doing the posting for many of these
companies replaced the former "IT" position with that of the "web
developer" to the current "senior UX/___ developer" positions that
seem so fresh and vibrant on the job and helpwanted area's.

"Junior Usability Guru/Ninja/Coordinator/Developer/Evangelist/Etc
wanted * "

Oh cool, something for ME! - junior level, something I can learn more
of the ropes with, something to advance on, and give back to a company
in the near future as I develop further... oh wait, an asterisk?

* - oh... junior to this company stands for having mastered 4
programming languages, with 5 years of experience, with the added
pre-req' for having managerial experience in a specific field. oh..
ok, gotcha. (gulp).

As someone that is (pardon the capslock) SINCERELY looking for a
junior level position, that was raised on his own
non-O'Reilly-coding-only diet of Zeldman, Krug, Nielsen, Garrett and
others on the side to his university required programming/design
courses that didn't include many of these UX/Standardista "titans"
of industry - I have seen nearly ZERO job posts in the past 5 years
with a legitimate "junior" position to work at, and WITH UX/UI. An
internship here or there? sure, a handful out of 1,000 potential
internships, that'll really "reach" the next generation of
UX/UI'ers out there.

People flock to the conferences as gold.
People retweet one designers approval of another designers redesign
as gold.
Many people are buying the books, and are retooling their "role" in
the IT department, in the Web team, in their immediate world; and are
forgetting to give back, and to share, and to open doors for the next
generation of UX'ers that exists.

There is an entire generation of UX'ers that are not "former
(insert internet language programmer title here)", or are not a
hybrid of a former position that worked out and now they wear a new
hat, or are not former artschool graduates that ground away at
earlier photoshop or quark software on box monitors and now can boss
others about typography...

There is an entire generation of new, UX-minded, UX-from the
ground-up future workers that are seeing that they have to go
"freelance" if they don't have that ridiculous toolset - as being
too well-rounded is a downfall that doesn't get you interviewed like
these positions call for.

This is not a cry for help, not at all - but an honest remark from my
end to yours - how many 'experts', how many 'senior level', how
many of those directors, managers, consultants, or other leaders of
this UX/UI world that is bursting with life these days are willing to
take on an intern?

To take on an 'apprentice' that lives locally?

To take on a 'shadow' that learns, works, and gives back to the
company/team-project, and also builds for the future ahead?

In all honesty, I can pull out 20? (30?!) names and emails that would
be willing to work for free. Not one penny. Not one "oh, the
economy is bad" excuse - as the money will come some day, but the
c..h..a..n..c..e.. doesn't - because there is no job listing for
"chance".

A bulletin board by the coffee maker, an online forum for
UXSUPERJOBS'ETC that posts on twitter the same post that another one
reposted 4 minutes ago, a Linked'In job listing area doesn't exactly
cover that, list that, or offer that.

Beside the university that offers (some/limited) help in placing
students into a UX based position, or a freelancer willing to grind
away and learn the rough world of being on your own (but hey - you
can write a great inspirational blog post someday of how you "did
it", no?) -

Where is that current and previous generation of coders, "IT guys",
of those that attempted to convert a coworker into a 'usability
expert' that COULD reach out to the new generation that is already
grounded in best-practices, accessability, content
quality-kings/queens ?

Are there more UX/UI postings and listings? Yup.
But where are the jobs that are cheap on your monthly/yearly budget
that offer a double reward (extra productivity - an extra helping
hand to free you up, and doing something to help someone advance
their career, hopes, or dreams to hopefully give back later on down
the road!)

Those job posts don't exist (yet). Junior... isn't.

Thanks again for reading along. I would like to finish on the
thought that I >> am

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

24 Feb 2010 - 3:54am
rfein
2008

Paul,
I appreciate the thought and passion that went into your missive? rant?
:-)

In principle, I'm more than happy to have interns and think its a great way
for graduates and those in the middle of their program to get experience and
learn about the business world.

However, it is a misapprehension to believe the labour is not free (even
excluding overheads).

Every person I supervise, no matter how senior or experienced, takes time
and the sad fact is the more junior a person is, the more supervision they
take -- especially as, until they've proven themselves, I couldn't put them
on production work.

But that could be 'cause I'm at a medium-sized agency and don't have the
layers management to do so.

To be honest, I believe only the larger companies / consultancies would be
your best bet.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Robert M. Fein
Director of User Experience
t: +44 (0)20 7908 0708
m: +44(0)7803 605 666
f: +44 (0)20 7908 0701
Moray House
23-31 Great Titchfield Street
London, W1W 7PA

25 Feb 2010 - 10:16am
Mark Schraad
2006

I hope this is not too much of a tangent...

Over the last month I have probably looked at close to a hundred resumes.
This is only partially specific to the Chicago area, but there is a ton of
talent out there. There are a lot of folks with excellent educational
background, wonderful experience and great portfolios to show. What I find
myself more and more concerned with is the ability to partner with product
and technology folks to move great design forward and into the market.
Frankly, it really does not matter if you are the worlds greatest uber
designer...
if you can't sell it, work collaboratively and push your passion through the
labyrinth of compromise. Not everyone needs to have these skills, but in my
world it will surely get you hired quicker and make you a more complete
professional.

This has been my call to the world of education (both under grad and grad)
for the last year or so. You have to do more than supply studio skills. You
have to teach students to think, to adapt, to explore and to work in their
future environment.

Mark

25 Feb 2010 - 10:25am
SemanticWill
2007

Yes, Mark - and at the end of the day, we are measured by our execution.
That's it.
Great ideas, designs, collaboration, theory - wonderful - that's the
ante at this table. You can't execute - all the way through to launch
(with all the compromise and constraints and politics and bullshit
from stupid people that frankly should be digging holes in the
ground), well - WTF? Go sit in a coffee shop and blog about process,
twitter about ideation - whatever gets you through the darkness of
your soul - but we won't hire you if you can't execute, so practice up
on your barista skills because I like my espresso a certain way.

~ will

25 Feb 2010 - 10:33am
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

This is where experience enters the discussion, I think.

There are a few skills that can only be learned through exposure. The
ability to sell a design solution -- and adjust that solution, and
partner with business and development to move that solution to market
-- is critical, as is the ability to see the people you work with who
aren't designers as partners rather than as obstructions (I really
wish this would be taught in school!).

The way to pick up the ability to work with others in an effective
manner is to ... work with others. No big surprise.

-Anne

25 Feb 2010 - 10:49am
bminihan
2007

I agree with the "If you can execute, they will come" point.

I live in the non-agency, FT product development and implementation side of design - mostly big enterprise apps and small startup products, and gravitate toward managing design and development teams. Design is in my DNA, so all of my teams have to have a design component. That means I need at least one person on my team to keep the usability factor ahead of the geek factor.

If you're new to the field, and looking for someone to shadow or for whom to intern, the best I can say is: bring your strongest skillset to a job, even if it's unrelated to IxD or design, and be passionate enough about design to move into that role on your own.

I led a usability research team for a large company awhile back, many of whom were master or phd-level human factors folks. While they were all absolutely brilliant researchers, by admission, most of them could not execute their recommendations beyond Visio, PPT or Photoshop. To maintain our relevance in the organization, I did most of the translation into functional prototypes for the team. I learned many new research techniques from them, and they didn't have to worry about the "geek stuff". Once I left the company, however, the group eventually dissolved for lack of tangible impact on their projects.

I guess the point is: If I have budget for one designer, and a resume for a genius researcher, a photoshop guru, or a front-end developer with a passion for the previous two, I'll pick the third resume. Otherwise, I have to do the front-end work, and I'm not getting as much for my budget. Bring something to augment your desire for IxD experience, and you won't have a problem going where you want...just be patient and expect to spend several months to a year slowly moving into the role.

Bryan Minihan
Email: bjminihan at gmail.com
Cell: 919-428-4744
Web: http://www.bryanminihan.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanminihan

25 Feb 2010 - 11:24am
Dave Malouf
2005

Will & Mark, you bring this up as an education issue, but there has
been a huge shift in the labor cycle that was done w/o much asking of
the education cycle. Namely, sometime around the early to mid nineties
we went from a career lifecycle where business took on a greater share
of the burden of education than they do today. They want education to
create fully-functioning mid-level folks, but calling mid-level folks
entry level, but they did nothing to engage education to make that
shift happen there.

1. there are less internships possibilities than ever. AND if we are
going to be blunt about this, the UX community has been really
half-assed about creating internships and maintaining them in their
culture. This can't just be a the giant corps as they can't sustain
this and they only give a small slice of the total experiences that we
all need.

2. It used to be that "hiring straight out of college" was a
managed process at especially larger corps. People out of college
were mentored, nurtured and trained with high level programs guiding
them through the real world. Today it is out of the oven of education
and into the fire of industry and none-betwix-between.

So Mark, you are pointing a finger at education w/o giving education
the benefit of the doubt and looking at the longer historical
picture.

Institutions around the world are desperate for corporate contact,
but even sponsored projects is not enough to give students what they
need. There are real reasons to protect students from "reality"
within the educational setting even at the senior and graduate level.
Educational institutions don't only need to be forgiving of failure,
but need to encourage it and only concept level projects (read as not
entirely real) offer anything close to that type of leeway.

The reality is that it is industry that has let down education and
not the other way around. All of the internships and coops during
undergraduate education aren't going to replace the experience of
having a real job.

To be more balanced, I think that the schools that have corp
connections (sponsored projects, internships, coops, etc.) are doing
all they can at this point. If even these students are not "cutting
it" when they come to you then I think the other side of the campus
needs to be looked at and evaluated and not 1 corp at a time, but as
a practice.

-- dave

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49535

25 Feb 2010 - 11:49am
Michael Micheletti
2006

Bryan you have no idea how reassuring this is to me. I've been designing,
and then helping build, web and desktop and mobile applications for years
now. Our IxDA community hasn't really embraced and encouraged hands-on craft
enough for me to feel entirely comfortable. This helps.

I just finished a "Hollywood" UI prototype for a BlackBerry communications
app yesterday. Wrote it myself, in Java. The developers will dismantle my
prototype for layout parts, graphics, and other interface components. Our
business folks are stopping in this morning to push buttons and critique the
prototype loaded on a couple BlackBerrys.

The upshot is that, if I wanted the UI to look and work great, I was going
to have to build a lot of it myself. This came after a several week design
cycle, with lots of wireframes, whiteboard work, meetings, and general
arm-waving. The kind of thing that Interaction Designers do. When they're
not building their designs.

Thanks again for the vote of confidence. It's fun to make stuff.

Michael Micheletti

25 Feb 2010 - 12:50pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Dave,

I did not intend to 'point the finger' anywhere. BUt I called out educators because that is were the largest concentration of skill building occurs. Further... much of the higher profile thought in this regard is coming from educators... most notably Roger Martin.

That intern options are at a premium is absolutely correct and your correct... we should be doing a better job. When I was running my company back in the midwest in the 90's we had an intern program and it was huge. I
will tell you that many corporations (mine included) are not set up for it. We are trying to change that - it is one of many initiatives being worked on here.

Dave - I also believe that the grand and under grad experience is the time to pursue projects that might seem less that reasonable in the 'real world' as you put it. Protecting them from that world IS appropriate. And, not teaching them the skill sets I eluded to is the norm in design programs. What I am layout out is the suggestion that those skills are what can put your students head and shoulders above other candidates and as such is an opportunity. My apologies if it was phrased as an inditement.

Lastly... I think the 'school of hard knocks' is a tough place to learn some of these skills. And it would seem out of line for me to be directing my suggestions at the educational process, since I am not a part of it. Its a put up or shut up sort of thing right? But when I was in grad school I did put up. I spoke and lectured about design to B school students... I did the same regarding marketing, brand and business in the design school. We spent a lot of time on presentations skill etc.

Dave - thanks for engaging on these points in this conversation. I very much appreciate it.

Mark

25 Feb 2010 - 12:52pm
susandoran
2010

I'm going to risk Will Evans trying to order coffee from me for being too theoretical (^_^) but a few things.

As "a profession," we're still defining ourselves.

We started out as disparate professions and academic disciplines prior to c. 2001-2002. Then we started being drawn to and blending with each other -with our existing skillsets/competencies- when 2nd generation web was *really *hitting its stride and was a well-funded, massively-creative frontier.

Since 2002ish a critical mass started defining ourselves as being almost the same. Because we play in the same pond, and ---at that time...until rather recently--- we also bonded over a particular new smart radical mindset/ideology/approach (i.e., radically diverging from the status quo of each of the original disciplines/professions). There were these schisms that we inherited from our legacy professions that didn't make sense to us. So we blurred the lines and were a new fluid creative mass.

Now we seem to be fragmenting again. And also seem to be resisting accepting that reality. Still insisting we're the same. But we're not. I think that's what we're seeing in this discush---as well as people looking to educate and be eduated -- to hire and be hired. I don't mean that negatively.

But a developer, even a skilled front-end developer, isn't a user researcher. A visual designer isn't an information architect. A designer whose strength is understanding the nature of interaction isn't a data junkie.

Many work artifacts are the same, but the cognitive and creative strengths---and increasingly, it seems----backgrounds cultivated through new educational programs, are different. (see prgms at RISD to Carnegie Mellon IxD to U Mich HCI)

Current economics might seem to recommend hiring people with breadth and depth in *all *of these areas --- but reality is breadth and depth of **all** of these don't come in one person. Clearly, you'll get multiple skillsets per person -- but you can't get 6 or 7. At least not with any degree of expertise or depth. When you can, it's a person who''s been busy cultivating a variety of facets over a bunch of years.

If you need a researcher and a front-end developer, and the front-end developer doesn't have background and proficiency in research---regardless of "passion"--they'll be a front-end developer. And your research will fall by the wayside.

As for internships, apprenticeships etc ---- I also see this as part of where we are as a profession. More mature professions have mentoring, internships, apprenticeships baked into themselves. Corporations aren't to be looked to for the answer. We have to determine it's necessary.

I've chosen to contract since 2005 because it's a flexible lifestyle --- but soon I'll be moving into permanent FT employment. And when I do---as I *always *have in permanent jobs, I promise to set up an intern/apprentice program.

Why? It's good for me as a manager, it's good for other employees, at all levels, and I personally believe we owe it to new people coming into our profession---in the same way we were all given breaks (yes, we also made our own breaks - but we did have more of an open frontier to barge around in and define, and we all were given a hand by someone else).

Down the road I'm happy to help my peers set up programs like this. Maybe I'll put together an article/talk about it. Back in maybe 2000 I presented on this topic at Special Libraries Assn annual conference. As I said offline to Paul, and echoing what folks here have said----it's not effortless to bring in really junior people. It's time-consuming as hell and sometimes frustrating. But it's also stimulating, fun, surprising, lively, and positively challenging -- and an extra brain, set of eyes, hands to get work done, for not a lot of money.

As far as "execute" I'd be curious if Mark and Will are in agreement about what execute means. I maybe Will saying it's about cranking out work/artifacts, while I hear Mark saying it's about being able to navigate complex environments, projects, personalities, politics, to be able to articulate a perspective and point of view, to teach, and to be a keen thinker and problem solver (beyond wireframes).

Susan

25 Feb 2010 - 1:16pm
bminihan
2007

I definitely concede your point that a limited budget results in sacrificed quality, as you cannot get 100% of what you want from any area of your team.

However, I disagree with this premise:
If you need a researcher and a front-end developer, and the front-end developer doesn't have background and proficiency in research---regardless of "passion"--they'll be a front-end developer. And your research will fall by the wayside.

I don't start with "I need a researcher and developer", I start with "I need a usable product that efficiently meets the business needs".

Realistically, there is no such thing as a perfectly staffed team. I gain and lose with everyone on-hand (including myself). If I had the budget to outfit every team by strict disciplines, I would a) convince the management they're spending way too much money on the type of projects on which I work, and b) completely miss every deadline and requirement due to managing 13-15 people.

Yes, it's true: a front-end developer, who is passionate and wants to become a better interaction designer and learn user research techniques, won't have the full breadth of a dedicated researcher. On the other hand, I rarely get a dedicated Java developer, QA or network engineer, either. I also have a strong background in user research, to help our intrepid front-end developer advance his skills.

As worthwhile as it sounds, a perfectly documented study explaining the faults and opportunities for my application, is perfectly useless if I have no one to execute them. A seasoned front-end developer can mentor junior back-end developers in the finer arts of their craft, while learning new skills in user research. Everyone shares, everyone plays. It takes a village =]

Bryan Minihan

15 Jan 2011 - 12:59am
AdamKriger
2011

Wow, this is an incredible post!  Enlightening discussion and great insight into the hiring process.  

Where does this leave those of us who have graduated with an undergraduate degree in liberal arts (Psychology) but want to get into the field in an apprenticeship role? I know that I can contribute, and that advocating for the interest of the user is built into my foundation, and I have a great understanding of branding and the communications, but I fear I'm totally locked out of the industry.  

Best regards and good luck to all!

Adam 

 

15 Jan 2011 - 9:17pm
Al Selvin
2006

Just as one data point on where a liberal arts degree can get those of us who have one...

I've worked in UI/UX for most of, and IT/software/web development for almost all of, my career on the strength of a liberal arts education (film/video studies, telecom policy) and a single college programming class. The latter (plus, perhaps, the more technical side of film and video production) gave me sufficient understanding of software to be effective in working with developers. The former taught me how to see, listen, interpret, design, and communicate.

Whether by education, inclination, or both, some technical savvy and an ability to resonate with technical people and issues are pretty much necessary to get, and stay, in many of the doors in the industry. But you don't need all that much truly technical knowledge to be effective (although some of the best UI/UX people I know have engineering or science backgrounds, so it doesn't hurt, either). Being able to understand the needs of, and bridge the gaps between, users, clients, stakeholders, and developers can be a very attractive skill, with plenty of roots in the liberal arts -- if you can demonstrate it. And being good at design (with all the levels and meanings that word can have) has no inherent relationship to any educational background. Find a way to demonstrate those skills (many ways have been mentioned on this list) and the doors will open.

Al

16 Jan 2011 - 10:05am
tonyzeoli
2008

If you were to believe Malcolm Gladwell's book, "The Tipping Point," in which he says that it takes about 7-years or 10,000 hours to become an expert in your chosen profession (notice I didn't say--be successful in your chosen field), then you could at least start off by knowing that you have a long road ahead to advance yourself in this profession.

Gladwell's writing confirmed my beliefs. Before I ever picked up the book, I often thought about how every great artist, musician, web developer, UX person, or anyone for that matter, made a conscious choice to follow their passion and develop their expertise. They focused very specifically on something they really wanted to do, in order to master it. In that effort, they all had to start somewhere.

I started in the dance music industry. My first wire frames were pencil sketches of a streaming music web site I launched in 1995. I did anything and everything I could to make that web site a success, ultimately selling it to another company in June of 2000. I probably sketched out some pages in the years between, but I mostly left design and development to my CTO. I made it my life's work to make sure that the site was a success. Every waking moment was spent looking for partnership opportunities, revenue, and creating great content. While I had a hand in the site layout and content positioning, I was mostly running the day to day and left it to my employees to execute on the site level.

I wouldn't return to "information architecture" and "user experience" until June 2001, when I landed a job as a Senior Online Music Producer at Cablevision Systems Corp. My first project was to take the shell of a product they'd been building for a Hip-Hip television program and turn it into the first New York City-based music social network as a companion web site to a television program.

It was my experience producing music content that landed me in that role, but I quickly had to shift gears and put on my IA/UxD hat and apply my surface knowledge. By this time, I'd spent over 10-years in the music industry. Because I had focused on my passion in 1990, I ended up selling my company in 2000. It took me 10-years to get there, but I like it to the seven Gladwell notes, because there were times in between that I wasn't solely focused on the end goal.

I didn't realize that IA/UxD was actually a career path, until my boss hired Funny Garbage, a SoHo NY based web and iTV development firm to help us architect and built and iTV platform for music videos that became Fuse On Demand. I got to work with one of their information architects. It was his work that confirmed to me one could have a career in information architecture, and it inspired all my later work. In fact, 10-years later, I still have all the diagrams, site maps, and user work flows that he'd laid out for us. It completely changed my understanding of interactive web development. I knew, after seeing his work, that wanted to make sure that I needed to be at his level to get a job in the field. It helped to inspire me to learn more and network into this field.

But, it didn't really work out the way I'd thought it might. In 2005, I went on to work in Product Development working for a start-up that needed someone to run their music division. One of my tasks was again to architect the user experience for the music component. I still hadn't yet been called an "information architect" or "user experience professional," but I applied what I'd been learned by doing, combining that with recent coursework in the Digital Communications and Media programs at NYU's SCPS. When that company went under, I ended up freelancing on a few IA projects, then turned that into working full time for a Long Island-based web development company that was our vendor for the start-up.

From the time that my start-up went under in 2000 to 2009, I'd spent approximately 7-years working in product development and web production, and as a subset of that, information architecture and user experience. Now, I have a body of work on my web site, which I can present to others looking for something with my experience.

The reason I spell all this out is because I wanted to show you what I didn't do, and that was to specifically focus on IA as a career and become an expert in the field. I ended up choosing to make WordPress my expertise, leaving IA/UxD as a secondary skill set. But in all this, you can see that I'm making choices, sometimes based on necessity and at other times based on interests. But, if I had stuck to just focusing on IA and really honing that skill set, you might be attending a seminar where I was giving a lecture.

Today, I use IA and UxD in my current employ, but not as much as I'd like, because now I'm becoming a CTO and running the systems for my organization. I've become a jack of all trades, master of none (well, except behind the turntables!), but in that I've got the experience to lead teams. At times, I watch the threads here and wish I would have solely focused on IA/UxD, but I got this opportunity in North Carolina and it was too good to pass up.

Hopefully, my story will give you some inspiration as to what to commit to and where to look for opportunities, because they may not necessarily be right in front of your eyes. My advice would be to look for a few small web development shops in your local area and offer your skills at a discounted rate, so that you can build a portfolio. Then, use the portfolio web sites out there to post your work and start to build the brand that is you and your expertise. You have to market your work and let people know what you've been up to. They'll take notice. And, if you're good, will call on you to fill a role on a project.

Hope that helps some.

Best,

Tony Zeoli
Lead Developer, ReeseNews.org
UNC - Chapel Hill

Founder, Netmix.com
Owner, Digital Strategy Works

On Sat, Jan 15, 2011 at 6:26 AM, Adam Kriger <adamkriger@gmail.com> wrote:

Wow, this is an incredible post!  Enlightening discussion and great insight into the hiring process.  

Where does this leave those of us who have graduated with an undergraduate degree in liberal arts (Psychology) but want to get into the field in an apprenticeship role? I know that I can contribute, and that advocating for the interest of the user is built into my foundation, and I have a great understanding of branding and the communications, but I fear I'm totally locked out of the industry.  

Best regards and good luck to all!

Adam 

 

(((Pl
15 Jan 2011 - 2:47pm
Paul Bryan
2008

I suggest you look for UX research assistant opps in your area. Usually requires a grad degree, but there is rapid growth in the industry, so may be intern or project-based opportunities posted. 

/pb

15 Jan 2011 - 10:56pm
llschertler
2008

Al - you and I mirror each other exactly as far as education and experience goes.

Tried and true (at least in my [and obviously Al's] experience), everything that Al Selvin posted on Jan 15th, 2011, is one of the best recommendations (if not the best) you may want to consider.

NOTE: this is NOT a plug for Al Selvin - I have never intereacted, met or heard of Al. I just COMPLETELY agree with what (he) has posted.

jus' my 75 sense worth...

uxGirlie

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