UX/UI design is a very appealing career. It offers a unique blend of creative and analytical work, it does not require a specific or extensive educational background, and it pays well, even for entry-level UX design jobs.
However, like any career, UX/UI is not perfect. Unfortunately, some UX professionals experience significant work-related stress. Tight deadlines, confusing expectations, and miscommunication can turn a dream job into a nightmare.
In this installment of The Guac, we’ll address the stressful aspects of UX design and share tips for avoiding burnout. With planning and good communication, you can build a UX/UI career that’s healthy, happy, and meaningful.
First, some statistics. While UX can be a difficult career, most UX/UI designers are happy in their roles. According to Career Explorer, UX designers are happier than average, rating their career happiness at 3.5 out of 5 stars. This puts UX in the top 30% of careers.
Other sources provide an even better satisfaction rating for UX design. As MeasuringU reports, UX designers rate their job satisfaction score at 72%, placing it among the top jobs for overall satisfaction. Glassdoor also included UX design in a list of the top 50 jobs in the US based on earning potential, number of job openings, and overall job satisfaction.
A quick look on Reddit may tell a different story— for every happy UX designer, there seem to be two Redditors with upsetting tales of workplace woes. Remember that every career comes with challenges, but overall, UX designers are quite happy with their work!
So what factors might make a UX design role unsatisfying? Here are a few obstacles that can add stress to your UX/UI career:
In some environments, your managers, developers, and other stakeholders might not understand the importance of UX design. They may dismiss your opinions or disagree with design decisions that you know will improve a product and help your users.
Justifying your decisions is an important part of UX work, but defending the need for your role to your own coworkers can be especially stressful and demoralizing.
Projects have deadlines, and clients have expectations. Even a well-planned project can fall behind schedule, leaving designers scrambling. Unfortunately, this can result in additional stress for UX designers. Despite their best efforts, they may end up with a lot of work to do in a short period of time and have to work late to keep up.
UX designers solve users’ problems through good design. This is no easy task!
Even experienced designers encounter head-scratching, stress-inducing design problems that can take weeks to solve. Then, after they finally solve a tough problem, three more problems appear!
Patience is mandatory in such an intricate line of work. Still, even the most patient designers can burn out when they face mounting challenges without sufficient support from their team.
UX design is an ever-changing field. Designers must constantly learn new tools and techniques to stay efficient and effective.
If you’ve ever tried a new software for the first time or taken an unfamiliar class, then you know learning can be very frustrating! A UX designer who doesn’t have the time to learn can quickly feel overwhelmed and inadequate.
These stressors can sound serious, but remember that they are fairly temporary. Tough projects end and new skills become second nature with time. After all, most UX designers are happy in their roles.
If you’re starting a career in UX design, try to learn stress prevention and management strategies early. While no one can completely avoid stress at work, here are some ways to set yourself up for low-stress success as a UX professional.
As you search for jobs and attend interviews, try to gauge your potential employer’s company culture. Do they value work-life balance, or do they hint at high expectations and large workloads? During interviews, don’t be afraid to ask how a company helps employees manage stress.
If you get the chance, you can also take note of how current employees interact with each other. Do they seem open and engaged, or do they seem exhausted and pressed for time? Making these observations and asking honest questions can help you find a company that fits well with your work style and preferences.
If you’re faced with colleagues who don’t value the UX design process, it’s your job to become an advocate. Practice speaking up about the importance of understanding users and designing to meet their needs. Be sure to emphasize why UX design is a good investment, and always use data to show how your work contributes to the company mission.
It can be tough to stick up for yourself and your users, but it’s worth it. Unless your team is completely uncaring (in which case you should leave), they’ll listen to your data-driven defense of UX/UI work. You’ll feel much less stressed during stakeholder meetings when you have a few UX elevator pitches in your back pocket.
Finally, remember that a lot of tension in the workplace can be solved with better communication. Before your stress reaches a breaking point, try speaking with your supervisor to let them know you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed. A good manager will clarify expectations and provide support to help you succeed.
Most UX designers find their work fun, meaningful, and rewarding. However, new and established UX designers alike feel overwhelmed and unsure sometimes. With these strategies, you can better navigate common stressors and thrive as a UX designer.
Wondering if UX design is right for you? Feeling stressed about joining this industry? Schedule a free, no-commitment mentorship session! We’ll help answer your questions so you can find a career you love.