The UX industry has gone through many changes in recent years but none quite as exciting as the rise in demand we are seeing for UX professionals in 2023. To learn more about what the future holds, we recently surveyed over one hundred seasoned UX leaders about their outlook on hiring and the demand for UX skills in 2023 and beyond.
From directors to department heads and senior managers, we heard from those at the forefront of shaping the strategic direction of their organizations, driving a culture of putting the user as the focal point for decision-making. Here is what we learned…
UX skills remain in high demand
Survey respondents have a positive outlook on the demand for UX professionals.
Results of the survey revealed that 79% believe the demand for UX skills at their organization will increase over the next 1-2 years and of these, 22% believe demand will increase significantly.
The research findings tell a similarly positive story in terms of hiring expectations for 2023. Results of the survey show that almost 70% of UX leaders expect their company/organization to hire UX professionals in 2023.
It can be difficult to separate the field of UX from the wider tech industry. However, there is a broad range of industries beyond tech that rely on the skills of UX professionals, such as banking, healthcare, retail, and many more. Our research findings lend support to the growing narrative that, despite any disruption within the tech sector, there is continued growth in the demand for UX skills across industries.
In order to understand which UX professionals are most in-demand, we asked UX leaders which roles they would like to have, or like to have more of, on their teams. It’s clear from the results that UX professionals are in demand across the board, as 88% of UX leaders selected at least one role they would like to have, or have more of, on their team.
However, the position of Researcher is the most sought after, with over half (54%) of UX leaders saying they would like to have or have more of them on their team.
The second most sought after roles were Content Designers/UX Writers, with almost 40% of UX leaders saying they would like to have/have more of them.
Content Designer/UX Writer
None of the above
Research and content design are the greatest skills gaps
The demand for Researchers and Content Designers/UX Writers revealed by this survey reflects what we have heard through qualitative research a number of times at UX Design Institute. Our survey results have shown that the top two areas UX leaders say their teams have difficulty with are planning and conducting user research, and designing written content to appear in the user interface.
It is interesting to note that these two areas are chosen by an almost identical proportion of just under 40% of UX leaders.
Planning and conducting user research
Designing the written content that appears in the user interface
Writing clear handover documentation and annotations
Collaborating effectively with software developers
Defining a clear information architecture
None of the above
Diving deeper into why Researchers in particular are so sought after, we asked the UX leaders who took part in our survey for their perspective. Interestingly, 77% of UX leaders believe their team should be carrying out more research. Of these, 32% believe they should be doing much more.
The importance of upskilling
With almost 70% of UX leaders expecting their organization to hire UX professionals in 2023, we were interested in understanding whether or not attracting UX talent poses a challenge.
Findings of the survey revealed that when it comes to senior positions in particular, attracting the right talent can be a struggle.
In fact, over two-thirds of UX leaders (68%) say they find it difficult to attract senior UX talent. Of these, over a third (35%) say they find it very difficult.
Given this recruitment challenge, it is perhaps not surprising that UX leaders place heavy importance on upskilling their teams. Almost 9 in 10 (86%) say it is very important for UX professionals to engage in learning and development.
We also asked UX leaders which skills areas they believe their team would most benefit from training or upskilling in. This was asked as an open-ended question, where UX leaders could type their response unprompted.
The top three responses which emerged from this question were research, presenting/storytelling and soft skills.
Research was mentioned spontaneously by almost 30% of UX leaders and responses included demand for increased skills in both qualitative and quantitative approaches.
In conclusion, this research offers several key takeaways. Firstly, it's heartening to observe that despite the ever-evolving tech industry, UX leaders remain optimistic about the demand for UX skills in the years ahead, particularly in the fields of research, content design, and UX writing. However, the study also reveals that UX teams face significant challenges in conducting user research and creating written content for interfaces.
Additionally, the research highlights a shortage of research being carried out, as perceived by UX leaders.
Within the context of this demand for UX skills, attracting the right talent will be crucial for UX leaders in 2023, but something which may be a challenge within the competitive job market we are currently operating in.
This points to the importance of upskilling and reskilling to meet skills gaps and demands within companies and organizations, something which UX leaders almost unanimously see the value of.