An eye-opening look at stress in UX design [2021]

Many switching careers to design or User Experience (UI/UX) ask the question - what are the levels of stress in UX design and development?
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    Stress in UX design - UXPLATE User Experience Templates

    While it’s a fairly obvious fact that every company is going to drive the most out of their employees we don’t often hear the same shouts of ‘burnout’ and ‘fatigue’ from the design community that come quite often under the spotlight in some other industries. 

    Obviously all jobs are different and we all work at differing levels so to best answer this one we have decided to break things down into a series of questions.

    Time stress in UX design:
    Do most UI/UX designers work over 40 hours a week?

    This is a question that we get asked frequently… It is totally dependant on the Ux’er – their current position, their current workplace and the boundaries they have managed to set for themselves as part of their work-life balance.

    It is true that in some countries and in some roles UX designers and developers would push the envelope on the 40 hour workweek – whereas others work remote and have moved towards the true digital nomad lifestyle.

    Taking it a step further where nobody should be working near the 40-hour mark – Tim Ferris’ book the 4-hour workweek is an oldie but a goodie for those that haven’t discovered it yet. 

    Short Answer: If the UI/UX designer and developer wants to.

    Office stress in UX design:
    Is UI/UX design ultimately a cubicle job?

    Whether working in User Experience (UX) for a startup company or larger entity, you will engage closely with many different parties including users, designers, developers and other stakeholders to achieve outcomes for a project.

    UX is one career that always involves interacting with lots of different audiences so isn’t what would typically be classed as a “cubical style job”. In fact… In most of the workplaces, our UX experts have worked open-plan workspaces were favored to foster collaborative working. 

    Due to office space changes during the Covid19 Pandemic – much of this thinking has changed. If you want simply are looking to work remotely, work from home or work for yourself and break free of the office/open plan even “cubicle lifestyle” then User Experience (UI/UX) is one design career choice that is definitely favorable if not a common choice. 

    Short Answer: Not at all – In fact the opposite! UI/UX is even well suited to at-home, remote and freelance work/be your own boss.

    Work stress in UX design:
    What are the downsides of being a UI/UX designer?

    Depending on the career choice made delivery pressure is a common pressure of the UI/UX designer and developer.

    In terms of the freelance/be your own boss scenario – there is usually a high-pressure stream:

    1. as you want to deliver quality results to keep the client happy. 
    2. to ensure you’re always hitting goals in a timely manner. 
    3. ensuring you can find new business at the same time
         – from both within existing clients; and
         – from new clients outside of the existing scope.

    If working in Startup ecosystems of smaller UI/UX teams you may see larger demands placed on the team.

    Designers and developers can be seen as ‘Generalists’ or sometimes called ‘Unicorns’. These team members can have demands placed on the outside of their general day-to-day role.

    For example – A UX designer may be asked to code a website or similar. Often outside bounds go on to compound with timeframe deliverables building larger pressure-cooker scenarios. 

    Short Answer: There can be an expectation to do more than your role. Some people excel in this whereas others simply do not!

    Career stress in UX design:
    Is UI/UX design a safe option as a future career?

    Almost every company – be it a startup or larger enterprise – that is producing an application, service or product requires a UI/UX Designer or Developer at some point along the journey – This helps to ensure UI/UX is a high-demand career.

    Over the last ten years, companies have transitioned to see value in UI/UX designers and developers and there is now a much better understanding of things UX’ers spend countless hours mastering – for example increasing UI/UX on customer conversion rates, improving user retention, performance rates around checkout experience journeys etc.

    Short Answer: Looking at recent trends the demand for UI/UX is only increasing.

    Skills stress in UX design:
    Is coding or design more important as a UI/UX developer?

    As noted in our article titled ‘Why do UX designers get paid so much?‘ having some extra coding skills is likely to add to your salary at least around the 10k mark. 

    So, I’m a great designer already – what is the best programming language to learn? This is one of the most common questions we get here so we wrote an article about it. 

    What programming languages should a UI/UX Designer have?

    Short Answer: It’s complimentary! Having some coding skills to add to your UI/UX skills can earn you extra dollars on your salary. 

    Learning stress in UX design:
    Can 30+ year olds transition from other careers to be UI and UX designers/developers?

    If you are reading this article with an ambition to change fields then you can feel comfortable knowing that User Experience (UI/UX) is an amazing career choice for transfer because it welcomes – in fact, values – experience base from varied backgrounds and life experiences. 

    UI/UX design and development is built around fundamental core aspects of skills such as problem-solving, communication, research and analysis.

    Important to note, unlike for example becoming a doctor, lawyer pilot or police officer etc. there is no set path or degree or even mandatory course to follow to become a User Experience (UI/UX) designer or developer.

    There are of course degree options in design and hundreds of UI/UX Design course options to choose from that can be completed (You can even start a basics course here with us) but none is a defined guide you need to choose for your journey.

    This makes User Experience (UI/UX) one of the best transitional careers for anyone to move into because it can be done at any level and at any pace. 

    User Experience (UI/UX) offers fantastic salary options – even for those new to the game or transitioning across. There is plenty of room for everyone and it allows for all styles of creativity.

    Short Answer: Absolutely. UI/UX is one of the best careers to transition into. 

    Overall Roundup

    Overall looking at the questions – in terms of the stress factors of User Experience (UI/UX) – at least from our perspective and our research of the people in the industry – it stacks up to be a fantastic career choice. 

    What is also great about user experience (UI/UX) is the industry as a whole seems to be on a long-term upward analytical trend – meaning the jobs are not going away anytime soon. It seemingly has simply never been a better time to transition over to a UX career.

    Taking all that into account, stress is real – no matter what job you do and designers are developers are probably not the best at talking about their stressors – especially when working for themselves or in remote teams. 

    Make sure if you’re feeling stressed – find someone to have a chat with or put your mental health first. In this case it would be ‘you first design’. Likewise if you are working with someone you think might be stressed take the time to check in on them and ask R U OK – a conversation could change a life


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