What kind of company should I work in as a UX designer? UX Question #17

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Emily from Paris, Texas, asks, what kind of company should I work in as a UX designer?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Emily. This is UX Question number 17 and I am Ben Judy.

What kind of company should I work in as a UX designer? Well, there are many different ways we could define a ‘kind of company,’ so let’s narrow that down. I’ll talk about four different kinds of organizations. There are pros and cons to each, so let’s quickly go through them.

A for-profit company might kind of company that comes to mind. What’s good about doing UX in a for-profit is: if it’s a successful company it probably has a lot of money and resources. And that means a design budget to provide a decent salary, incentives, and resources for UX designers to do their job. What’s not so good about a for-profit is the for-profit part. The business is always going to make decisions for the good of the business over and against what’s best for end-users. Good UX can be a competitive advantage, and that’s the fine line you have to walk.

Nonprofits are the second type. Nonprofit organizations can be wonderful places to do UX work if your personal values align with the mission of the nonprofit. Your work can be very meaningful and fulfilling. However, meagre budgets and a reliance on donations will often limit staffing and resourcing for UX.

Startups are a third kind of org where you could do UX work. Because startups are small, you might gain more direct influence on the product and business strategies than you would in a larger, more established org, and that can be a lot of fun. But you’re just as likely to work long hours, pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into the startup, only to watch the company fail and die, or get bought out and consumed by an org with a very different scale and culture.

Client services is another category. This would be digital agencies or consulting firms. Early in your career, you can gain broad experience and build your portfolio quickly as you hop from one client project to the next. But the work is deadline-driven, long nights and weekends aren’t uncommon. Burnout is high in agency environments. And the client is always right, even when they aren’t. Ugh.

I wrote an article published in October 2021 on the Designlab blog titled, “Finding Your Best Fit: Which UX Environment is Right for You?” Read that for more of my thoughts on this question. I’ll drop the link in the description.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: Do I need to write code to be a UX designer?

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