02 March 2013

Interaction Designers pay heed.

These are the golden years of earnings for you. Do not waste them.

Pattern libraries, best of class, industry standards, OS interface kits, and the flattening maturity of the industry are all working against you. We are arguably reaching a point where out best work is becoming plenty ‘good enough’ for the market.

The interaction designer (not unlike the developer) is in high demand. It’s important to understand that this demand is an opportunity beyond your current high salaries and job choice freedom. There are ways to work around you and smart startups will be first, and then corporate managers working to reduce cost, increase productivity, and lower the risk of paying you. 

So what can you do about it? 
  • continue on the learning path. This is not a trade school profession... the targets are fast moving. Much like the world of software developers, a relatively small percentage of those holding the interaction designer title are really good at what they do. To be average, frankly, is fairly easy. To be excellent and measure up to the rack starts takes a lot of work.
  • Invest in yourself.  Don't wait for your employer to buck up and send you to a conference. Take a percentage of you salary and invest. Good for networking, learning, and even promoting your personal brand, they pay huge dividends.
  • move away from the tactical. The future of what we do is strategic. The tactical work you are doing right now is already being commoditized.
  • attain new skill sets. Management, business, and research are excellent edge skill sets to augment what you have. Understand though, branching out can take time away from keeping up as an interaction designer.
While certainly not crying wolf, the future is clear. The demand and scarcity of supply that is garnering high salaries in the short run will work against you in the long run. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.