Design job titles, 2011 to present
This was something I’ve had kicking around in my head for a little while, and and Emelyn Baker’s post on Medium finally provided the catalyst— she had a look at the words being used in job postings on Dribbble’s board, and asked some questions of them. I’ve taken some inspiration from Emelyn and tried to analyse not just the keywords in job postings, but also tried to take a first pass at looking at how those keywords have changed over time, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
Let it be noted, though, that I haven’t done a huge amount of analysis (statistical significances, etc). In the future, I would love to be involved in a more rigorous, in-depth data analysis/visualisation of job titles over time, both for designers and developers, so if anyone wants to collaborate, give me a shout! I’ll push the pixels if you’ll crunch the numbers 🙂
What I did:
I chose to have a look at both the Dribbble job board as Emelyn did, but also Authentic Jobs, which has been around for a little bit longer and is a bit broader in its scope, to give me something to compare to.
Because of the nature of the job postings— they’re taken down once they’re filled— I couldn’t use the APIs to go through them. I’m also crap at APIs (halp). So I used the Wayback machine instead, with a little bit of manual analysis, to see which jobs were being posted years ago.
For both sites, I looked at the jobs posted in October of 2011 vs. the postings in January of 2016. I chose October of 2011 because it was the first full month available on Dribbble. I would’ve loved to look at it month-by-month, year-by-year, but I couldn’t quite figure out a way to do that programmatically. I kept the jobs that involved front-end development as part of the analysis (as Emelyn did originally, and since Dribbble does advertise them), but I did not include the back-end postings from Authentic Jobs, as it would’ve made things unwieldy. I’ve also usually rounded numbers to the nearest whole.
In total, I gathered the following:
Note once again that the Authentic Jobs postings were only the ones that related to design, and did not include software engineering or other back-end postings. They included front-end and UX developer roles.
Across both boards
There were a lot of commonalities. Both had a lot of postings which I termed hybrids: combinations of UX and UI (‘ux/ui designer’) or UX and Front-End (‘front-end developer/ux designer’), or web/UX (‘web/ux designer’), or something to that effect.
I had expected ‘interaction’ or ‘interactive’ to increase over time, but it didn’t: it hovered around 6% on Dribbble, and actually decreased from 16% in 2011 to 5% in 2016 on Authentic Jobs.
‘Graphic’ or ‘visual,’ meanwhile, were more common keywords on Dribbble and saw a small increase (from 14% to 18%), while there was a decrease on Authentic Jobs (10% to 6.5%).
Finally, front-end development was much more common on Authentic Jobs, which is to be expected given their scope. It increased from 23% to 30% by 2016, while it almost disappeared on Dribbble (6% to 0.6%).
Dribbble, 2011 vs. 2016
In October of 2011, the word ‘design’ or ‘designer’ was obviously in many of the titles, in 75 of the 84 total postings (89%). ‘developer’ was only in six (7%). This was largely the same in 2016, and not surprising.
‘ui’ and ‘interface’ decrease in popularity:
In 2011, ‘ux’ or ‘experience’ was included in 11% of postings, while ‘ui’ or ‘interface’ was in 25%. However, in 2016, while ‘ux’ and ‘experience’ only went down slightly in terms of percentage, to 8%, ‘ui’ and ‘interface’ went down noticeably to only 8% in 2016. Most often, the terms were used together: ‘ui/ux’ appeared in 12% of the 2011 postings, and 9% of 2016 postings.
‘product designer’ on the rise:
In 2011, ‘product design/er’ was in 5% of postings, and was up to 22% in January of 2016.
Experience remains important (or at least, seniority does):
When experience was mentioned, it was almost always high-level: ‘senior,’ ‘lead,’ or ‘director.’ These were present in 25% of titles in 2011, and 33% in 2016. ‘Junior,’ unfortunately, was in 1% of postings in both years, and the rest had no experience level in the title.
AuthenticJobs, 2011 vs. 2016
On Authentic Jobs, the word ‘designer’ was present in 61% of postings in 2011, and 69% in 2016. This is interesting, as all of the jobs I pulled out were design-related, but just seemed to include the term itself less than Dribbble. This is likely due to the fact that developer (ui, front-end, ux) was and is more common here than it is on Dribbble.
‘ux’ and ‘experience’ increase in popularity, while ‘ui’ and/or ‘interface’ decrease:
Titles with ‘ux’ and ‘experience’ in them increased from 11% to 21%. Meanwhile, postings with only ‘ui’ or ‘interface’ plummeted from 20% of postings to 1%. There was an overall increase in ‘ux/ui’ together, however, from 2.5% to 6.5%.
Similar increase in product designer:
There were less ‘product designer’ posts overall on Authentic Jobs, but percentage-wise, they still increased from 2.5% to 12%.
Decrease in senior-level experience:
Authentic Jobs started with the same amount of ‘senior’/’lead’/’director’ design positions by percentage as Dribbble, 25%, but these decreased to 18% in 2016. There was, however, a similar lack of junior positions here, with only one in each month.
Overall thoughts + amusing titles:
Overall, it seems that product designers are on the rise. This could involve anything from visual design to more interactions and prototyping. It’d be fun to do a more in-depth analysis of this one, to see if a product designer five years ago is the same as now. I suspect not, but it’d still be cool to look into the qualitative descriptions.
It was also interesting to see the split between ‘user experience’ and ‘user interface.’ The former is on the rise, while the latter seems to be on the decline (at least in keyword usage).
As mentioned above, I’d expected to see an increase in ‘interaction’ and ‘interactive,’ but there was none. Is this because ‘interaction design’ hasn’t yet emerged as a specialty, or perhaps being seen as a component of user experience or product design?
And finally, experience. This is something that Emelyn also called out in her original post, but it seems as though there is a need for an entry-level job board; there are plenty of ‘senior’ and ‘lead’ roles, and roles without a specific expertise level indicated, but the ‘junior’ posts hover around 1%. A job board devoted to those getting their start could be a great resource.
Some noteable titles
There were some titles that defied categorization, so just for fun, here they are:
UX/UI Designer “aka L. Da Vinci 2.0:” Mashape, Dribbble
Chief Awesomeness Design/Dev Dude(tte): Launchrock, Dribbble
Really Cool Person with Great Front-end Skills: Behance, Authentic Jobs
Truly Prodigious Designer (Visual/UI) Senior: Summit Series, Authentic Jobs
All of these were from 2011, so maybe we’ve gotten more serious?
There are obvious limitations to this, given that I’ve just taken two windows into job postings, across ~4.5 years. It would be very interesting to have a look at the data across the years, to see any variations— i.e., if there was a massive spike for ‘interaction designer’ in 2014 or 2015, I will have missed it. My development and analysis skills are rather limited, and I wanted to throw down the initial gauntlet before getting too immersed in trying to gather massive amounts of data without knowing how to act on it.
If you’re interested, you can download the data I’ve gathered here in .ods and .xlsx format. Again, I’d love to collaborate with someone on something more comprehensive, so please yell at me on Twitter or e-mail.