Why are UX professionals unsatisfied? UX Question #83

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Remington from Boulder, Colorado, asks: Why are UX professionals unsatisfied?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Remington. This is UX Question number 83 and I am Ben Judy.

Why are UX professionals unsatisfied? Well, we can talk about about couple different things here. We can talk about how satisfied UX professionals are, by and large, with their jobs and their careers. And we can talk about why an individual might be unsatisfied in their current role.

To the first issue, I see wildly conflicting data and opinions. On one hand, I’ve recently seen well known UX industry leaders saying, “UXers appear to be less satisfied with their work than others folks in digital product development (e.g., product managers, engineers.)”

On the other hand, multiple, recent surveys show that UX professionals are above average in job satisfaction and the direction of their careers. At a time when over 90% of employed people in the U.S. are looking or anticipate looking for a new job within the next six months, it’s a low bar—but UX people are, by the numbers, not that unhappy.

Anecdotally, where I work, our most recent employee satisfaction survey showed that our UX people are highly satisfied in their job. In fact, UX’ers were #1 among 8 disciplines for job satisfaction. This is mostly attributed to being interested in the problems they are solving and learning marketable skills.

So, why might someone be unsatisfied in their current role? There are large number of possible reasons, but one that resonates with me is that UX people are often asked to do work that is less meaningful and less impactful than we desire.

How often are UX designers asked to make someone’s PowerPoint slides look prettier, or ’make the logo bigger’? It’s usually a symptom of low UX maturity within the organization. We want meaningful, impactful work.

So what about you? If you’re currently employed as a UX’er, do you like working in UX? Are you happy or unhappy in your current role?

What I’ve observed consistently throughout my career is that nobody can whine and complain like a UX designer. There are a large number of us in this field who seemingly have a natural bent toward whining loudly. Not solving problems, not ideating new solutions, just taking to social media or grabbing a microphone at a conference and complaining, “You’re not doing it right!”

I’ve done my fair share of this. I won’t be a hypocrite and claim otherwise. But increasingly, I find myself less interested in the whining and more interested in simply doing what is in my control to change my situation, coach and mentor the next generation of designers, and find the best answers I can to interesting questions.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What salary can I expect for my first UX job?

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