Careers in User Experience Design

Unless you work in UX or in automotive design, you might not think about the user experience inside your car. I recently wrote about automotive UX, but really most products, if not all products, have UX factors. That is why the job prospects for a career as a UX (user experience) designer look very good.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers is $77,200. (Though of course, this can vary by level of experience and geographic location.) Unsurprisingly, this is a field that is expected to grow significantly in our digital-centric world. Demand for UX designers is expected to grow by at least 8% by 2029.

What is UX and what does a UX designer do?

Any time you interact with a product, a website, or app, that’s the user experience. 

If you go into a store and walk around unable to find what you want, that is a poor user experience. Are there signs to get you where you want to go? That’s navigation, not unlike the menu on a website or signage on a highway or in a theme park. 

The crossovers are many. Are you stuck waiting around just to check out at Walmart? What about checking out on Different tools but still UX.

A UX designer makes sure the product is straightforward to use, and that it’s a seamless experience for the consumer. But isn’t that what a web designer does? On a small site or for a small company, the two jobs might be combined, but they are separate jobs these days. 

The web designer builds the skeleton and skin of the site. The UX designer optimizes how the site functions, and the flow of the user experience. They absolutely should be working together. 

The UX designer also is involved in marketing, and often with other teams, clients, and customers.

Tasks might include:

  • Analyzing marketing data about customers.
  • Conducting surveys, focus groups, or other research to see how people use the site/app, and what they think.
  • Testing the UX in real time as a customer
  • Information architecture (maps or other organizational graphics) that shows how the site is laid out, and how the user moves through it.

People enter the field via a number of paths. Now, there are college courses and degrees in UX or software development or graphic design but the skills needed include not only computer skills, but data analysis, project management, and UX-design-specific training. Communication skills are also a major asset, given how much time UX designers spend collaborating with others. Non-degree devoted to UX design as online boot camps, training programs, and certification programs can teach the skills necessary to become a UX designer if a job does not require a degree.

Have you seen this very simple kind of UX survey somewhere?
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Automotive UX


instrument display in the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle


Unless you work in UX or in automotive design, you might not think about the user experience (UX) inside your car.

Most products, if not all products, have UX factors. In vehicles, that can include everything from easy ingress and egress, seating, dashboard display, rear-seat entertainment systems, and the somehow very important number and type of cup holders.

In smaller cars, the focus is split between driver and passenger with perhaps more emphasis on the driver, but in bigger vehicles, like mini-vans, UX is often geared more toward creating a great user experience for passengers.

I saw an article that the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle is the winner of the Wards 10 Best User Experience award.

Here are some factors that are considered:

  • second-row passengers may have soft leather-and-microsuede lumbar pillows
  • easy-to-reach controls and bright, clear display screens that are well organized for the driver
  • With potential distracting commotion from kids in the back, lots of features are easy to access via physical switchgear on the minivan’s center stack, rather than relying on touchscreen menus.
  • even safer for a driver is a voice-recognition system radio stations, climate, navigation and phone functions.
  • A slew of USB ports and outlets are inside for connecting or charging devices. (Four USB ports (two USB-A and two USB-C) are up front under the center stack, while second-row passengers get a bunch of the same, plus HDMI ports and a 115V AC outlet. Even the third row has USB ports.)
  • wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as WiFi and Amazon Alexa.

A big addition is the Fam Cam – a ceiling-mounted camera above the second row so parents can see what their kids are doing. It is basically a mobile, comfortable high-tech living room.