How I increased my salary by 500% in my design career

I still think of that moment as the key moment of my career. I didn’t start that job without any experience. I had freelanced for years before that. But I was told that I needed to get a degree and a proper job so that I’ll earn enough money. So I got a degree in economics because there’s no design course at any of the Slovenian universities, and got that high-paying job at the bank. It was a ”proper” job that everyone kept telling me I needed. It wasn’t really a design job either, I was a business process manager. I basically designed software solutions for business processes which is basically what UX designers do.

How to evaluate the UX maturity of a company

I was presented with this opportunity in the summer of 2015. Until that point, I had spent two years living in Germany and working for an early-stage startup in Luxembourg. It was the job that I moved abroad for. Now, I finally had the chance to move to London and kickstart my UX design career there. Or so I thought. The gut feeling that I ignored was right. I joined the London-based startup which described the role in the contract as just “designer.” I found it odd at first, but then I consoled my self with something like: they probably see designers as generalists, that’s why they didn’t use UX designer or Product designer to describe the role. Being self-taught and having mostly freelance and early-stage startup experience at the time, I had already considered myself as a generalist. So I deluded myself that calling the role just “designer” was actually a good thing.

Why designers quit

53 percent of designers who responded to my survey were UX/Product Designers, around 17 percent were graphic, 9 percent web designers, 6 percent design generalists, 6 percent UI and visual designers, and around 4 percent were design managers. I have to admit that I’m surprised by these numbers as I didn’t expect such a large chunk of UX and Product designers.

Remote work is not for everyone

It would take me years to find out that the open-plan offices suck. It would take me even longer to understand that a designer doesn’t need to be collocated with the team they’re working with to do their job well. Working remotely doesn’t hinder collaboration. Ok, that’s only partially true. Let’s dig deeper into this.

Would you do your job for free?

I remember telling this to the CEO of the first company that hired me as a full-time UX designer: “thanks for the raise but it really isn’t about money for me. If I could, I’d do this for free.” They were really happy with my performance so they gave me a raise just a couple of months after I started working there. Until then, I had a full-time, non-designer job which I hated and I freelanced doing design work on the side. Being able to do it full-time literally was a dream come true.

Two questions we ask designers in job interviews

We won’t ask you how many golf balls fit in a bus or how many times a day a clock’s hands overlap – nothing like what Google became famous for. While there’s some value in seeing how candidates react to curve-ball questions, they don’t really add much to a 45-minute interview. We also won’t ask you to attend an all-day session with a series of interviewers.

I don’t have a degree in design

I come from a small, seaside town in Slovenia. By the time I finished high school I had already been designing and building websites for a couple of years. There was no digital design course in any of the faculties in Slovenia at the time so I decided to sign up for the Computer Science course in Ljubljana—Slovenia’s capital. I didn’t know what to expect but shortly after I started the course I realized that it wasn’t for me. Looking back now, I think I just wasn’t mature enough to see the potential in learning Java and stuff. So I dropped out.

6 things I hate about your recruitment

Yesterday I read the 6 things I hate about your design CV article. I found myself on the hiring side numerous times already and although a bit disrespectful, the article genuinely offers good advice for designers that are just starting out. Finding and hiring good designers is hard and yes, companies get all sorts of applications. There’s simply a lot of it to get through—many people out there trying to start their design career. 

Measuring and quantifying UX

“Data-driven” is all the rage at the moment, everyone wants a slice of the “big data” cake. Data scientists are the new rock stars, replacing the JavaScript and Front-end gurus and ninjas from a few years back. My problem with trends like these is that they cause the so called “tunnel-vision”. Thing x is a trend right now and we should do that too because,… you know… everyone’s doing it.

The day I proved myself wrong

Designers don’t know why a small change to an interface results in a massive drop in a core business metric, product managers don’t know what should go into the backlog and what not, developers don’t know how to estimate the delivery time of the fancy new feature. The whole team behind the product is so clueless that they don’t even know if the new feature brings any value to the users.