Defining your value as a UX designer
UX design is a highly competitive field, and with the abundance of junior designers eager to get into the field, many at one point will begin to question their potential for success based on their education or experience levels compared to their peers. Luis Berumen Castro, a senior UX designer and mentor, brings attention to this in his article “Defining your Value as a UX Designer”, highlighting some of the difficulties young UX designers face and offering advice on how they can realise and expand their value.
Throughout the article, Castro uses the analogy of poker cards to advise that as UX designers, it is important to know your cards and to play them right. In other words, it is important to know your value and what you bring to the table, and how you can best utilise your value to stand out and be successful in the field.
However, although knowing your value as a UX designer is incredibly important, Castro points out several obstacles likely to be faced. First is the fact that defining value can be difficult. Many people evaluate their worth or value in the field based on the job market’s perception of a ‘good job’, which is generally equated with working in a large successful company or earning a high salary. This can lead to many who maybe don’t have the same experience or are yet to land a job in the field feeling like they are less valuable than their higher-earning counterparts.
Castro also highlights that in the past, typically a good education was viewed as a ‘free pass’ to a promising future and good career. However, in recent years this viewpoint has shifted, especially as more individuals obtain degrees. Years of education is no longer considered a rare asset, as evidenced by the fact that UX researchers, despite having high levels of education, are repeatedly underpaid.
Another issue is the lack of feedback from the market to upcoming and aspiring UX designers, as many candidates are often rejected and not given specifics as to why. Just like any other field, most employers are also looking to get the best candidate for their position for the least amount of money, and this can make UX designers under-value themselves if they get a lower salary than they believe they are worth.
When it comes to defining value, Castro emphasises that designers are compensated for unique solutions to problems, and so the more unique value you have as a designer, then the more valuable you are considered.
Castro also offers guidance, highlighting that many UX designers mistakenly believe that breaking into the field is a one-size-fits-all situation, with many applying to multiple positions in the hopes of securing one. Instead, Castro suggests that UX designers spend time learning their personal skills, talents and what makes them stand out, and let that guide their search. Knowing more about yourself and what you have to offer is important for determining your value and knowing your value will give you greater confidence when navigating the industry.
As a UX designer, it’s also important not to limit oneself to assuming that only experience directly relevant to the field is valuable. Due to the diverse nature of UX design, having experience from a variety of sources, whether it’s from another sector or weekend hobby, all add to your distinctiveness and edge to employers, and this can increase your value in the competitive field.
Link to the article used