UX Industry Goes Loco

In New Zealand the demand for Information Architects, Interaction Designers, Web Designers and Usability Consultants is hotter than global warming.

Can you walk the UX talk?
Can you walk the UX talk?

It’s so hot that the local industry is possibly nearing some sort of a meltdown – nearly everyone seems to be looking for User Experience (UX) experts – and you’ll find plenty of people who are enthusiastic about entering the industry – but finding the right people with the right sort of experience is proving tricky.

What I’ve found interesting is the number of people from a techie/developer background who want to side-step into Information Architecture – these are people who would normally follow a career path into Technical/Systems Architecture or some area of deep technical consultancy… What’s with that?

I can’t put my finger on a single reason for the demand, but here’s some best guesses…

  1. In New Zealand usability has finally gone mainstream thanks to a few key industry people and companies who have stubbornly promoted the virtues of User Experience and User-Centred Design for years. I still remember my bizarre interview with a leading Wellington design agency in 2001 who scoffed down my talk of information design/user experience et al. (and just harped on about the virtues of Flash). Of course, they now do UX/IA/ID/Usability – the whole shebang. Yep – the industry has moved on a lot since the turn of the millennium!
  2. Government agencies in Wellington are falling over themselves to regain control of their sprawling websites and intranets – which inevitably leads to seeking an understanding of their users, reviews of their current sites and confronting masses of content. But, it still surprises me how many Government agencies (and businesses) don’t have any sort of Online (Web) Strategy… [if anyone wants me to blog on that drop me a line].
  3. People are waking up to the fact that (if done right), User Experience Design really does work – many of New Zealand’s leading websites are showing good returns on investment after adopting user-centred methodologies.
  4. It pays quite well. Back in 2005 the average salary for usability professionals in NZ was around $80k. Freelancers can expect anything from $75/hr upward. And consultancy rates for UX in Wellington? Apparently somewhere in the range of $150 to $250+/hr.
  5. Then there’s the Web2.0 factor – the penny has dropped for the likes of Rod Dury who (based from what I’ve read on his blog) “gets” what User Experience professionals actually do and the huge value they can add to software design. Web design ‘service’ companies such as Provoke, Shift and CWA have known this all along – but now they increasingly have to compete with the booming startup industry, government and branding agencies for talent.

Anyway, if you’ve read my blog in recent weeks you’ll know I’m looking to almost double the size of my User Experience Design team at Provoke – there’s currently five of us, but one is heading off to the Dury empire in December. I’m also creating two new roles – then another position around March 2007 (if the busy trend continues). In all I need an Information Architect, Web Interaction Designer, Web Designer/Coder and a graduate or junior Visual Designer!

Email me for more info.