At the beginning of 2016, we set out to create a comprehensive picture of UX design in Switzerland, conducting an anonymous online survey. The survey focused on tasks, tools, workplace, satisfaction and compensation. Between 18 January and 16 February, 80 UX designers took part. To all who did, you are fantastic!
The questionnaire was shared through our professional network and on social media. Due to this and the self-selective nature of surveys, there is no guarantee that the sample is representative to UX designers in Switzerland.
Now buckle up, here are the results.
As expected, UX designers come from different countries. 17 nationalities were represented in the study, still, more than half of the respondents are Swiss nationals.
We come from the following countries:
UX designers in the sample were dominantly male and between 26-40 years of age. Less than one in three UX designers are women:
Experience shows a high variance between 1-26 years. More than half of the respondents have at least 6 years of experience, the average being 7.9 years:
Close to half of us do UX full-time, half as a part of our jobs. Three people do UX as a hobby.
60% of us hold a master's degree or equivalent, 28% a bachelor or equivalent, 5% a doctoral or equivalent, 5% have secondary school education. Women have a slightly higher level of education than men; people coming from abroad also have a tad higher level of education than Swiss nationals.
The vast majority of UXers studied either social sciences (34%), design (33%) or engineering (26%).
Most of us have a 'designer' title of some sort, there were only a few dedicated researchers and developers. Half of the respondents hold a head or senior title, and only very few have a junior title:
Job titles show a high variance in years of experience with the following averages:
The most represented companies in the sample were agencies, followed by late stage product companies, startups and developer companies:
Five UXers work as freelancers, two of them are dedicated UX designers, yay!
Almost half of the respondents work in canton Zürich; a whopping 75% work in either Zürich, Vaud or Geneva:
English (41%) is spoken more widely in the office than German (39%) or French (20%), clearly due to the large number of foreign nationals working in UX. Most Swiss nationals work in German (61%) or French (21%) speaking environments.
Even though the sheer fact of having UX designers on board should show a certain level of design maturity, the companies we work for are not necessarily considered design-driven. Design maturity stages show quite an even distribution:
We work in companies of all sizes from a handful to 500+ people. That said, 38% of us work in offices of 10 or less people, and 75% in offices smaller than 50 people.
UX teams of 2-5 people and teams of one are the most frequent but there are also companies with large UX pools:
Most of us work from the office, but 1 of 4 UXers work often from home or off-site. 86% of us work from home from time to time (whether it's due to companies allowing some form of home office work or a really bad work-life balance is a good question).
Most frequently we work on designing websites and web apps. Almost half of us often work on iOS and, somewhat less frequently, on Android projects. It's great to see that service design made it to the fifth place.
The products we spend our time with:
Full-time UX designers are more likely to work on apps (iOS and Android, but also web and desktop apps) than part-time UXers.
UX agencies stood out for doing less mobile app projects than the rest.
For some reason, respondents from Zürich and Vaud work much more often on mobile projects than those from Geneva.
It's not by chance that UX is often conflated with UI, we spend most of our working hours on UI (wireframing, prototyping, visual design) and concepting. This holds true for both full-time and part-time UXers.
Non-UI activities are definitely less frequent. The least common tasks are field studies, remote usability testing (though in-person testing is quite high up on the list) and, most surprisingly, A/B testing:
Apart from our regular tasks, we read UX blogs and books and go to design-related conferences and meetups quite often. When it comes to active participation, the numbers tank, as expected. Only around 1 in 6 UXers take active part in online discussions, write blog posts often or very often.
To form a picture about the work-life balance, 37% of the respondents work often or very often on side projects.
Full-time UXers are more active in almost all activities but do less side projects.
Vaudois are by far the most active conference and meetup goers and organizers.
The questions about satisfaction received rather positive answers, the satisfaction rate was at least 50% in all topics. People are most satisfied with the projects they work on, their professional development and their current job.
In contrast, respondents were least satisfied with job opportunities in Switzerland, not a single person feels very satisfied with the job market. UX events also leave something to be desired.
Full-time UX designers are more satisfied with their salaries (more on this later) and somewhat more satisfied with their projects and professional development.
UX research is a very divergent phase, this shows in its tools as well. Ranging from pen and paper through survey tools to research agencies, we received all kinds of answers (including activities and sources of information, not just actual tools).
The most common actual tools were:
|Research tools (n=49)|
|Survey tools (Survey Monkey, Survey Gizmo, Google Forms, Typeform)||18%|
|Pen & paper||14%|
|Card sorting (Optimalsort, Treejack)||6%|
Wireframing proved to be the most popular among tools.
Sketch is clearly blowing up, though Balsamiq and Axure still hold strong in Switzerland in comparison with recent international surveys (perhaps in part due to the different targeting of the surveys).
Axure and Sketch are much more popular in bigger UX teams than in teams of one.
Most people (65%) use multiple tools, those who rely on only a single tool use mostly Balsamiq or Axure.
It’s great to see how many people still turn to pen and paper.
|Wireframing tools (n=67)|
|Pen & paper||49%|
|Presentation suites (Keynote, Google Slides, Powerpoint)||8%|
Some runner-ups, if you want to go for something exotic: Antetype, Affinity Designer, Evolus Pencil.
Most of us use prototyping tools. InVision and Axure are in the lead, although when looking at full-time UXers, Axure and HTML beat all other tools.
|Prototyping tools (n=62)|
|HTML (incl. Bootstrap, Zurb Foundation)||29%|
|Pen & paper||18%|
|Sketch (with other tools)||10%|
|Framer.js (with Axure and InVision)||4%|
Somewhat less love went to UXPin, Moqups, Webflow, Webstack, Marvel, XCode, Keynote, Edge Animate, Marvel, Atomic and Antetype.
Remote usability testing isn’t among the most frequent UX tasks, only 12 people conduct remote research often or very often out of the 80 participants.
UXers who do remote usability testing rely mostly on chat and screen sharing services:
|Remote usability testing tools (n=32)|
|Chat & call services (Skype, GoToMeeting, Hangouts, Webex, join.me, TeamViewer)||59%|
Some runner-ups: Verify, Lookback, Optimal Workshop, UserBrain, Hotjar and UsabilityHub.
Google Analytics wins the analytics race hands-down, with Hotjar and Piwik having a sizeable user base as well.
Surprisingly, half of full-time UXers didn’t specify any analytics package.
|Analytics tools (n=49)|
|Spreadsheet software (Excel, Numbers)||6%|
Some runner-ups: Flurry, Mixpanel, Crazy Egg, SPSS, Heap, AppFigures, Twitter Analytics, Mailchimp Analytics.
And now to the juicy parts.
The vast majority, 91%, of the respondents chose to share their salary details, even though it was prominently labelled as optional. Actually, everybody coming from outside of Switzerland provided their salary information.
The monthly gross salaries show the following picture:
The picture is somewhat different when broken down by canton. Geneva and Zürich offers much higher salaries:
UXers with less than 3 years of UX experience earn significantly less (63% earn less than 6k, all of them earn less than 8k).
Above 3 years of experience, contrary to many other countries, title or age seem to predict Swiss salaries more than experience. For comparison, see the international UX Salary survey by Hanno and the O’Reilly 2016 Salary survey.
Swiss salaries by title:
Even though women respondents proved to earn less than men, this is mostly explained by differences in age and experience of the participants (30% of women had less than 3 years of experience as opposed to only 11% of men).
Focusing on practitioners with at least 3 years of experience and above 25, the gender gap is less tangible: