When I first launched the new version of Cre8asiteforums, the first discussion forum was this Usability topic. Over the years I became very discouraged at how the SEO industry continued to live in denial that usability and human centered design had any relationship to their work. To this day, certain conferences turn their back on my pitches on SEO and UX. And over time, I let this forum coast and finally get moved down in priority.
I've seen the first draft of the salary information for Usability professionals. It includes information architecture, usability, user interface, and human factors. The salaries blew me away. Most of the respondents are making $100,000 US or near that. And that's just for UX. No cross over to marketing or QA testing (which I have.)
We have a jobs board here and every day I try to post new jobs on Twitter and Linkedin for SEO's and UX positions. Again, for UX, the salary ranges blow my mind.
Then, this today:
Tech Hotshots: The Rise of the UX Expert
Developers with user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) expertise are hot these days, according to Shane Bernstein, managing director of QConnects, a Culver City, Calif.-based digital recruitment firm. And it's a fairly recent phenomenon, he says. Between 2010 and 2011, QConnects saw a 25% increase in the number of requests for UX designers; between 2011 and 2012, the increase was 70%.
Salaries are going up as well. Recruiters cite starting salaries ranging from $70,000 to $110,000, with the upper end hitting $150,000 and up. The Creative Group, a division of Robert Half Technology that specializes in design, marketing and interactive talent, began tracking UX designers separately in its annual salary survey in 2011. Salaries went up 6.2% in 2012 and it expects another 4.8% increase in 2013.
With design at the forefront of everyone's mind, UX experts are suddenly in high demand and short supply. One reason they're hard to find is that the position spans multiple disciplines: design, programming and human behavior. "When you find that person, let me know," jokes Masiero.
"We do a little bit of market research, a little bit of psychology. We're synthesizers, pulling bits and pieces of different methodologies together," says UX designer Whitney Quesenberry, who runs her own agency in High Bridge, N.J. and has done work for Novartis, Siemens, Dow Jones and Eli Lilly among other companies. "UX is like programming -- there's not just one job involved."
Why UX designers love their jobs
The job description is amorphous and challenging -- to understand a given app's interface requirements, user experience context and back-end machinations. But the pay is mighty attractive -- between $70,000 and $110,000 to start, recruiters say -- and the perks associated with a UX (user experience) position sound like the halcyon days of the Internet boom: stock options, signing bonuses, flexible work hours.
One recruiter reported seeing one company offering liquor in its vending machines, and one employer offered designers unlimited time off (in return for results, of course).
It's always been true that my work and training pull from various areas. What is not recognized is how usability ties into search engine marketing. SEO's don't work with user personas and mental models, nor do most of them approach site architecture and link structure from the human factors brain reaction cognitive side.
If you're an SEO wanting to earn more money, consider adding UX to your skills and let search engine marketing conference organizers know you want to learn more about how to add UX to marketing.