We ran our annual Readers Survey during the last two weeks of January. It was a chance to get a snapshot of the whole UX Mastery community and to hear your opinions on what we’re doing. It’s fascinating to see what our community looks like, and we love sharing these kinds of things with you, so here goes.
Firstly, wow… When we estimated the time needed for filling in the readers survey we conservatively set it at 5 minutes. We weren’t expecting people to take 20 minutes to joyfully share and carefully craft pages of suggestions and ideas. It’s a privilege to get such positive and constructive feedback and we’re very grateful. We’ve pinned a few of your readers survey comments up on our office wall for the days we need a bit of a pep talk!
But on with the show. Let’s get into the readers survey numbers.
1) Gender diversity
Question: “Your gender?”
Matt, Hawk and I firmly believe that diversity brings a greater variety of experience and makes our community better. We also think it’s common sense that half of the adult population should have equal access to the same opportunities as the other half.
The readers survey reported 47% female and 53% male, which correlates roughly with our personal observations of community participation, but also corresponds with other major UX conferences and community events in the UX field. It shows that there is still more work to do encouraging the participation of women in the UX Mastery community, and in UX in general.
Readers Survey Takeaway: In 2015 uxmastery.com had 33 articles published by 10 different women, and 21 articles published by 7 different men. But we featured only 2 different women and 5 different men as part of our podcast interviews and Ask The UXperts chat sessions, which is something we need to balance better.
2) The changing shape of the UX Mastery community
Question: “How long have you been working in UX?”
The shape of our community has shifted significantly since our first readers survey in 2012. The percentage of people just starting out has almost quadripled from 7.9% to 31%. The percentage of people in the field between 1-5 years has kept pace on 44% and, correspondingly, members of the community with 6 or more years experience in the field are still around, but are a smaller percentage of the whole.
From this we can also infer that although people may not have been in a UX role previously, they consider their tasks as having helped build their UX experience.
The ‘other’ category almost exclusively included people that don’t see themselves as working in UX or a related field, but who are nevertheless curious to know what it’s all about.
Readers Survey Takeaway: This year we’ll be making a conscious effort on the blog and in the community forums to include useful and challenging content for intermediate and advanced users, as well as people just getting started.
3) Different challenges based on years experience
We asked the question: “What is your biggest challenge when it comes to getting started (or getting better at) user experience design?”
In addition to hearing many juicy problems that we’re looking forward to helping solve, we were also able to group issue types by the number of years experience to see how challenges change as you grow your career:
- Just starting out: Often feeling overwhelmed and struggling with knowing where to start. Finding it hard to get hands-on experience, and therefore hard to create a great portfolio. Needing help connecting with peers, mentors and role models. Still trying to get a good handle on fundamental methods like usability testing.
- People with 1-2 years: Like the people just getting started, still struggling to find the time to read all the good books and recommended learning materials. Hungry for more experience. Still facing challenges in the workplace with getting co-workers to fully understand the role of UX.
- 3-4 years: Still honing and discovering the craft, but starting to specialise and dig deeper in certain areas. Some of the same questions still keep popping up—problems like building support for UX in teams and finding good ways to recruit test participants are common everywhere.
- People with five, six or more years experience: Often in senior roles, but even with experience it is still hard to stay up to date with industry changes, relevant information, ‘best practices’, sifting truth from misinformation, and finding peers to network with. Still facing issues getting good support and budgets for their UX projects.
Readers Survey Takeaway: This question cuts to the core of things UX Mastery can help you with. Expect to see more blog posts, tools and resources, and long-form content like ebooks that focus on the above challenges to help you get started and get better at what you do.
4) The many backgrounds of UXers
UX has long enjoyed an eclectic mix of backgrounds, attracting people from a wide spectrum of creative, technical and business backgrounds. I think it’s great that people from all these fields find a home in UX. We’re all the richer for it. This is one of my favourite aspects of the readers survey.
Question: “Have you studied a degree or diploma? If so, which ONE of the following BEST describes your main area of study?”
‘Other’ included a strong contingent of social sciences (we’ll include that as an option in the survey next year), as well as industrial design, marketing, engineering, cybernetics, and philosophy.
Question: “How are you currently involved in the user experience field?”
‘Other’ people only had UX as a portion of their role, were clients of UX practitioners, were entrepreneurs, or were using UX principles but in other fields.
Question: “Thinking back over the past year, what kinds of projects have you worked on personally?”
Other: Graphic design, product management, program innovation, event management, enterprise web-apps, education/classroom materials.
Readers Survey Takeaway: 1) Tertiary study for UX is quickly on the rise, mainly because the universities have finally got their degree programs in place. Over the next few years, degree qualifications will likely become more important when entering the industry at the start of your career. 2) There has also been a general shift towards in-house roles, reflecting the wider uptake of UX within corporate business. 3) As mobile devices overtake desktop in terms of traffic, these little gadgets also attract more projects, so we can see the number of ‘Mobile/tablet’ apps has risen.
5) Learning styles
Question: “Which of the following BEST describes how you prefer to learn?”
‘Other’ included responses from people who were insistent on being a mixture of all the other styles. I like the way they think, and good educators always cater for combined learning styles. =)
Readers Survey Takeaway: As expected, the focus is still on practical, readily-applied instruction about how to ‘do’ UX. We’ll write up some more tutorials and on-the-job learning guides for you! ‘Reading’ and ‘watching’ are well-represented. It looks like most of you will opt for more active involvement than just listening, if given the chance. However, we’ll still continue with the UX Mastery podcast as we know a lot of you are loyal fans.
6) UX Mastery & content
Question: “Which of the following types of content would you like to see MORE of?”
‘Other’ included requests for video presentation on how people do their UX work, mentoring, personal feedback and career advice.
Question: “Which UX-related skills are you MOST keen to get better at?”
‘Other’ included requests for help with project management, managing teams, and taking wireframes all the way through to an actual interface design.
Readers Survey Takeaway: ‘Design problem solving’ has long been an important skill, but has been a lot more requested over the last year or so. I suspect this reflects a transition from interface problems towards design in a broader sense.
7) Improving UX Mastery content
Question: “Overall, how happy are you with the quality of the content we create and share?”
We’re always aiming for 5/5 when we write, so still a way to go yet!
Suggestions for doing a better job involved: providing additional instructional videos, lots more tutorials and real-world examples, exercises to do, more visuals amidst the text, giving the community better and more direct access to ready to use templates and resources, personalised advice, writing for people with more experience as well as for those just starting out, and to publish more frequently and more regularly. Easy!
Readers Survey Takeaway: While we’ll continue doing more of the same for the stuff that works, we’ve got some exciting ideas about resources, online learning and personalised advice as these are the big gaps people are telling us about.
So, what happens now?
Well, Matt and Hawk and I have already used this feedback to shape the content and priorities for UX Mastery in the year ahead. We’ve got a brand-new Editorial Calendar system, and have commissioned a bunch of excellent authors and editors to help make it happen.
If you have an idea or want to have an article published on uxmastery.com, we’d love to hear from you.
The next thing to happen is that we start actioning the details of this. We’ve got some exciting plans for the community forums in the next few weeks, followed by some fundamental and overdue updates to the UX Mastery website that will allow us to make some of the other cool stuff happen.
Without giving any secrets away too early, we’ll also get right to work creating some tools and resources we can see will be useful for you. Keep your eyes peeled.
And stay tuned for the best responses to our question: “If I ran UX Mastery I would definitely…”. We’ll announce the winners in a separate post in just a few minutes. =)