What’s Hot for UX?

There appears to have been a slight upsurge in recent months of companies looking for User Experience (UX) people in New Zealand.

But taking a peek at the advertised jobs you could be left scratching your head when faced with the diversity of job descriptions and increasingly bizarre skill-sets expected of the ever-malleable and super-human UX consultant (who, it seems, needs to be an expert at nearly everything!)

So I took ten recently advertised jobs within the UX field and condensed the job descriptions into a manageable list of expertise.

The larger the segment the larger the number of mentions across the ten jobs.

The largest segment, User Research, incorporates “conducting stakeholder and user research”, “behavioural research”, “contextual enquiries” and “personas” as well as “workshops and focus groups”.

Customer Journey Mapping includes “story-boarding”,   “workflow and scenarios”.

I included “wireframes” under Prototyping.

The rest of the labels hopefully speak for themselves.

If you’re looking to move in to the UX field, or looking for a job in UX, this should give you some clues as to what the New Zealand employment marketing is currently seeking from User Experience professionals…

user research
workshops and focus groups
Conduct stakeholder and user research
behavioural research
contextual enquiries

11 responses to “What’s Hot for UX?”

  1. Bob Medcalf Avatar

    I don’t understand. Where’s the “to do usability” segment?

    1. Zef Avatar

      Bob – didn’t you hear? It got taken over by the macarena.

  2. Lulu Avatar

    Great insight Zef!

    I also find it interesting that the number of years they ask for (which presumably relates to how much $$ they want to pay) is usually less than 5 years. Which to me is not nearly enough to learn all these skills let alone be experts in them. You need to earn your 10,000hrs at least on one of the skills to be an expert (see Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell)

    Maybe we need a post about what companies really mean or should mean by what they say in these job descriptions.

    1. Zef Avatar

      Lulu – I agree. It would be good to know what the various UX roles mean from a New Zealand perspective. Do you think all the UX Gurus in NZ could get on the same page? Keep on at me about it!

  3. Mark Harris Avatar

    Eeep. They don’t want much, do they? And I’m guessing they want it for <$50K…

  4. Tony Avatar

    Awesome article:)

  5. Matt Avatar

    User experience can cover all of these elements I think but you would be struggling to find someone who was genuinely an expert in all of them. Although you would struggle less to find a UX practitioner who secretly thought they could do well at all of them. At the very least anyone contributing to the UX process should be interested in all of these aspects even if they stray outside of their speciality.

    I think someone who’s sole focus was user research and someone who’s sole focus was interaction design for example could both legitimately claim to be user experience practitioners as UX does encompass both these things. They just have different specialities within that umbrella.

    It’s the same for design, someone who designs furniture is a designer, someone who designs magazine layouts is also a designer. But you wouldn’t necessarily want to sit in a chair designed by the magazine guy.

    I’ve worked very recently with superb user researchers with HCI qualifications who were also asked to produce interactions designs based on their research findings and they hated it (and were no good at it) because they didn’t have the skill set to turn their findings into a design strategy and then a specific design solution. And I know that my own wife (who is a researcher) is horrified whenever I show her user questionnaires I have developed. Even though, they are quire clearly awesome!

    On the positive side good to see much user research here, does the emphasis on user research show a sudden realisation that it is currently missing and a scramble to get researchers? Or does it really represent such a large part of the UX budget in NZ now?

    Anyway if NZ is like the UK, look again at another 10 adds in two months time and they will be asking for completely different things.

    Epicly long comment. Good work Gould. (High fives himself)

    1. Zef Avatar

      Matt – high five back! Yeah, it’s interesting to see UX going more mainstream in NZ – and all good UX starts with user research.

      Right now it seems that the “Jack of all trades” is in demand, but as the industry matures we may see that shift for more specialists within the UX disciplines.

      So where’s the emphasis on UX in the UK right now?

  6. Matt Avatar

    Pretty mixed. There is a big focus here on narrow specialisations (maybe too narrow) and definitely a suspicion of people who are generalists, but I do see advertisements occasionally for people who can cover the whole spectrum. You could maybe generalise that permanent workers are expected to cover a lot of bases but that contract workers are expected to be very specialised. I had a big moan about it on my blog here: http://www.dlod.org/all-the-pies

    Generally though I think it’s big enough here that you can be as narrow or as broad as your interests take you and you will be able to find some kind of niche. One thing that is the same as NZ is that the more outrageous the demand for skills the smaller the offered remuneration.

    ‘Designer Wanted: Must be able to code in binary and be a master of water colour based oil painting. Must have specific experience of at least 10 years coding puppy related websites for iPhone 4. Will pay in glue’

  7. Nick Avatar

    Heya Zef.
    I’m impressed to see such a spread of skill-set and certainly to see such a focus on research. This goes against my experience and it’s great to see a needed shift in this direction.

    I hear many of the job roles in NZ are advertised globally due to a shortage of talent here.

    Out of interest, how was the split between client and agency-side positions amongst the 10 jobs you scoped out?

    Catch up soon. Nick.

    1. Zef Avatar

      Hi Nick. Since the ads were mostly employment agency ads from Seek and Trade Me it wasn’t always clear who was hiring.

      But a rough guess from reading the job descriptions is that 3 were from banks, 3 from design agencies, 2 from IT firms and the last 2, no idea!

      If it’s true that companies are looking overseas then good luck to them as there’s also apparently a shortage of good UX talent even in places like San Francisco. There’s good talent here in NZ, but the few I’ve spoken to want more interesting work (beyond intranets), realistic expectations and pay.