You think UX is tanking? Think again. The UX sky’s not falling; it’s reshaping. AI integration will facilitate a UX renaissance, while the profession’s rapid growth shows enduring viability. Old timers, stop lamenting. Newbies, gear up for a killer decade in UX.
The real destructive touch of this UX recession has been in two parts.
1. As always (courtesy of Hang 🤙 Xu) the "doers" are fairing better than the "thinkers", which has set back strategic design and innovation by a few years. That lends itself to Seffo's law.
2. Since Jesse James Garret wrote up The Elements of UX in the late 90s we've never really done the content side of UX design properly. Narrative architecture, the true wild west of UX (despite being a fundamental pillar), just took an absolute nosedive with this recession. Copywriters in UX follow instructions and UX writers write clear instructional copy. Few people are currently employed to create a fusion of compelling narrative to go with our usability and IxD strategies.
All of the clean execution on research under the sun can't create a compelling story to go with with a clever UI - and narrative is dead on arrival in most UX teams. The artists who are good at it are languishing in copy roles, some approximation of content strategy roles, or are quickly running out of unemployment. Hell, just ask my wife (https://www.linkedin.com/in/cloughrey/). If you aren't writing demand gen, you aren't writing.
Obviously 1 leads to 2, and the early AI boom is trying to replicate narrative using ChatGPT. It's not going well, and is going to get worse if AI companies can't solve the model collapse problem that occurs when AI recursively ingests its own work.
The view isn't nearly as clear in that context.
Thank you for sharing your deep insights and unique perspectives that draws from your career of extraordinary experience, Jakob! You continue to inspire and give us plenty to think about for the future of UX. Greg
Thank you, Jakob, for sharing this and highlighting Saffo's Law. It's disheartening to confront the bad news through statistics, but this article resonated with me as an early-stage designer. It helps to calm the mind, encouraging perseverance and heightened awareness of the UX world's challenges. I should always keep in mind it's not clear what's going forward and that even a tiny, unforeseen accident can significantly impact tomorrow, so hold on and stay vigilant.
It's good to know that this is in sight, and yet sad to be in the moment of disparity. Long story short, Saffo's law is one to keep in mind.
Tell it Jakob!
I fear this is a little willfully anti-doomer about the trouble UX's brightest strategic minds feel the field is in.
Suppose Big Tech fully realized specialists, armed with principles and ideals, led to UIs users loved... but realized this was a huge business model fail. Turns out disrupting every form of commerce and media, replacing natural charge-for-value points with ...-???-Profit, later sick-from-birth business models like ads and metastasizing subscriptions... wasn't such a good idea. Dark UX becomes the last way to eke value out of platforms supposedly worth billions. Idealistic UXers become a liability.
Not sure I see that going well for the trade.