The UX of Learning UX is Broken
Dan Maccarone

Dan & Sarah….thank you, thank you, thank you. This is probably the best article/post about UX that I’ve read in years…possibly ever.

I am looking forward to pointing everyone in the direction of it.

That’s my short and sweet response. If you (or anyone) cares to know why…

The timing of it is also perfect for me, particularly as it relates to your comments (and the other post) about unicorns. For the first time in years, I’ve had to seek out new projects. (I usually get recommended but some unusual and unexpected timing changes caused an abrupt end to recent projects.)

I am astounded at what I see as the requirements for so many opportunities that are out there. Practically every role that contains UX in its title describes a hybrid of of User Experience skills and Visual Design skills. And, sometimes Dev skills as well.

As you mention, we all need to have some understanding of the disciplines of our teammates in order to be effective. But none of us can replace each other by sliding into one of the other roles and attempting to perform both roles with the requisite level of expertise.

Your insight about the glut of Junior Designers is also a gem. In my gut, I suspected something like this but had nothing to back it up.

Ironically, at Interaction13 (or maybe Interaction10) there was a panel discussion about the huge gap between the projected number of Interaction Designers needed in the next 10 years and the projected number of Interaction Designers that would be graduating during the same period.

So, the need for UX skills exists, and is what is prompting the claims that UX Designer is one of the top 5 recommended career paths. And thereby, the education is needed. But as this article so eloquently explains, short-cutting that education path is ill-advised.

I had an experience last year where someone who had a Masters in digital design (or something of that nature) found nothing wrong with a concept (proposed by a 3rd party creative/visual design firm) to have the landing page of a B2B web site simply be a search box…like Google…with no navigation at all.

The response to that design concept from the Masters-holder was, “It’s fine because it looks like Google so people will know how to use it.” I had to explain that just because people will know what to do with it doesn’t mean its an acceptable alternative to navigation.

People would be visiting the site to see what the business offered. Not having navigation was akin to dropping visitors into the Sahara desert and letting them fend for themselves to find what they might want. And it didn’t provide, at all, for browsing. How absolutely inconsiderate of visitors!

Similar to Eric Blattberg (poster herein), I had a whole, different, 17-year career prior to becoming a UX-er, and I draw on my experiences and learnings from that realm all the time.

On another note…as it relates to the potential effect on rates and salaries…

The other day a recruiter contacted me about a role for which I’m a good fit. It had 33 fairly lengthy bullet points, 835 words in total. So, it was a substantial set of responsibilities. When I was told the hourly rate being offered, I was stunned. It was incredibly low.

I realize that a variety of things can play into rates including the possibility that the recruiting company is taking a big cut but the rate could also be influenced by the number of Junior practitioners in the market.

In any case, I had to decline to be submitted and (nicely) mentioned that “given the extensive set of requirements and skills needed for this opportunity, I’m surprised that the client’s budget is not more in line with the ask.” Interestingly, the recruiter has come back to say that they can offer a higher rate. It remains to be seen how this will play out.

Eventually, if there is enough supply of seasoned UX Designers to meet the demand, rates will likely come down but if they’re coming down due to a glut of Junior practitioners, that’s just devaluing the craft.

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