The future of UX, according to its grandfather | by Rita Kind-Envy | Mar, 2024


Dr. Jakob Nielsen and Sarah Gibbons explain what will happen to AI, layoffs, and bad managers.

The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault

The unfortunate raft is all that’s left of the once glorious ship. It’s overcrowded, full of pale bodies. Some people have already given up, while others are still fighting.

Are we — the UX people — on this raft?

Being laid off is not fun, and neither is working under the constant pressure of AI and those who believe that it will replace us.

Last week, I attended a fireside talk with Sarah Gibbons, the Vice President of Nielsen Norman Group, and, of course, the superstar Jacob Nielsen (now a founder of UX Tigers).

This is what I’ve learned from both.

2022 was the year of the “great resignation,” with 4 million people leaving their jobs each month in the U.S. The final total of layoffs for 2023 ended up being 262,735.

Already, 45,000 people had been laid off by February 2024.

No wonder employee loyalty is at an all-time low. What does that mean? This reflects a distrust among employees towards their management’s ability to make sound, long-term decisions with a genuine concern for their well-being.

Designers feel expendable. As a result, the turnover rate is soaring.

Excluding the layoffs, the top 3 reasons for designers quitting are:

  • Being unhappy about the work they do
  • Lack of career progression opportunities
  • Low UX/Design maturity

Sarah Gibbon highlights that employee loyalty is low because companies ask too much of us.

Bad management adds to the problem.

The low employee loyalty issue is partly because companies turn long-time designers into managers as they grow. These designers, hired for their skills, often end up being bad managers. This mismatch leads to problems in leadership and…


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