Friends and family don’t get what you do as a UX designer? Send them this.

You‘ve been a UX designer or researcher for 5 years. You excel at your job. Your parents know you work with computers, but they also seem to think you paint all day?

I know this is a first-world problem, but it’s definitely a process to explain every time you meet someone.

There is nothing wrong with being an artist. But it can get pretty dull to hear: ‘you must be good at drawing’ or ‘so are you a fashion or an interior designer?’ I get these remarks all the time. So, instead of letting that little nasty voice come out, I push it down and tell them I work in tech instead. Then, they say: ‘wow: so you must code a lot.’

This story tells your friends and family members what you actually do. Send it to them and thank me later.

Some of us can’t draw.

Yes, some designers draw a lot because they specialize in illustration or because it’s their hobby.

But, the majority of UX designers I know don’t put pen to paper. We take notes during team meetings or sketch up quick ideas before moving to Figma or Miro. I can’t draw a simple ‘sun and clouds’ without feeling clumsy, so I choose not to draw. If you’re a designer and you draw well, you should be a protected specimen. I run amazing usability sessions and workshops with technology teams. The process typically involves iterating app designs, communicating emotions users may feel to coders and managers. I don’t need to draw well or at all to do my job well.

We use computers, but not to code.

Yes, it is true. A lot of tech bros drink Starbucks coffee and wear Patagonia with dad shoes on the beach. They usually look like they code in the dark or like surfers ready for the next wave. So, you might ask: what is it we designers do all day? The honest answer is: we are stuck in meetings most of the time, just like you. We join Zoom calls to present, debate, give feedback, collaborate, learn, and then we have time to design or research. In the midst of it all, we think, we break app experiences apart to put them back together. We juggle human and business needs to fit technical constraints. It can be a lot to balance, but it’s rewarding to see the end result in people’s hands.

The three principles of human centred design: desirability, feasibility, viability
Human-Centered Design by Future Processing, 2022

A lot of us make six-figure salaries.

To sum it up: we tend to make a good living. We solve tangible human problems using technology, and it pays.

Choosing user experience means opting for a profitable career. The average annual salary of a UX designer in Canada is $84,416 and about SGD 137,616 in Singapore, according to Glassdoor. It is $95,572 in the US. If you look at Learners’ salary report from 2022, you’ll be amazed to see UX researchers making well over 250,000 CAD per year.

So, there you have it. These are 3 realities of UX designers and researchers. In a gist, every app you use is incrementally designed and improved by a team of creative, analytical and daring people. People like us. It’s a job like no other. It sits between the next AI takeover and fixing bugs with developers, in pyjamas.

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