A UI/UX designer's career has never been more in demand. Companies are racing to invest in great UI/UX, so finding talented designers has risen to the top of the priority list. Almost 4 billion people use the internet worldwide. Over 1.83 billion websites are active, and over 4 million mobile applications are downloadable across Android and iOS. The internet is a new community with every company racing for its own space. Because according to SeedScientific, the world spends almost $1 million per minute on commodities on the Internet as of 2022. So, every company wants their share of wealth to form a new world.
Who would help these companies create those great products, websites, and applications they need to participate in the new world? Or how do you ensure that these websites, applications, and products are attractive, simple to use, accessible, and inclusive? That's right, Product designers!
If you want to be a Product designer, you must know where your new career path could lead. Or what kinds of job opportunities you can anticipate. It's crucial to consider your possibilities before determining where to focus your time and talents.
That is why we will explore the three main UI/UX work types: in-house, agency, and freelance. Each type has unique advantages and challenges; understanding their differences is essential for making an informed decision about your career path.
This article will provide valuable insights to help you navigate the opportunities available. And at the end, you'll better understand what each type of UI/UX work entails and the factors you should consider when choosing the best fit for you.
So, let's begin this exciting journey of exploring the different types of UI/UX work!
In-House UI/UX Design
In-house UI/UX design refers to working as a UI/UX designer within a company or organization. As an in-house UI/UX designer, you will work exclusively on the company's digital products, such as websites, mobile apps, and software applications.
Pros of Working as an In-House UI/UX Designer:
Job security: In-house UI/UX designers typically have a stable and secure job as they are essential to the company's product development team.
Immersion in the company's culture: Working in-house allows you to fully immerse yourself in the company's culture, values, and goals, which can help you design digital products that align with the company's vision.
A deeper understanding of the product: As an in-house UI/UX designer, you will have a deeper understanding of the product, its features, and its users, which can help you design better user experiences.
Cons of Working as an In-House UI/UX Designer:
Limited variety of projects: Because in-house UI/UX designers work exclusively on the company's products, the variety of projects and industries you can work on may be limited.
Limited exposure to other design perspectives: In-house designers may need more exposure to other design perspectives and practices outside their company, limiting their professional growth.
Possibility of being siloed: In-house designers may be siloed within their company's product development team, limiting their interactions with other teams or departments.
Examples of Companies that Hire In-House UI/UX Designers: Jobs for in-house UI/UX design can always be found in various organizations, from startups to large corporations. Examples of companies that hire in-house UI/UX designers include:
Tips for Getting an In-House UI/UX Design Job:
Develop a strong portfolio: Your portfolio should showcase your best work and demonstrate your ability to design user-centered digital products.
Network: Attend industry events, meetups, and conferences to connect with other UI/UX designers and potential employers.
Research companies: Research companies that align with your design values and interests. Look for companies actively hiring UI/UX designers with strong design cultures.
Be open to internships: Internships can provide valuable experience and help you get your foot in the door at a company.
Agency UI/UX Design
Agency UI/UX design refers to working as a UI/UX designer for a design agency. As an agency UI/UX designer, you will work with multiple clients across various industries, designing digital products such as websites, mobile apps, and software applications.
Pros of Working at a UI/UX Design Agency:
Variety of projects: Working at a UI/UX design agency allows you to work on various projects for different clients and industries, which can expand your design skills and knowledge.
Exposure to different design perspectives: Working with different clients exposes you to various design perspectives and practices, which can broaden your professional growth.
Collaborative work environment: Working at a UI/UX design agency often involves working collaboratively with other designers, developers, and project managers, which can enhance your teamwork skills.
Cons of Working at a UI/UX Design Agency:
High pressure and tight deadlines: Working at a UI/UX design agency can be fast-paced and requires meeting tight deadlines, which can be stressful for some designers.
You may need more control over the projects and clients you work on as an agency UI/UX designer.
Possibility of being pigeonholed: Working at an agency may require designers to focus on a specific design area or work with specific types of clients, which may limit your professional growth in other areas.
Examples of UI/UX Design Agencies:
Many UI/UX design agencies, ranging from small boutique firms to large international agencies, are worldwide. Some examples of UI/UX design agencies include:
Tips for Getting an Agency UI/UX Design Job:
Develop a versatile portfolio: A versatile portfolio showcasing your ability to design for various industries and clients is essential when applying for a UI/UX design agency job.
Network: Attend industry events, meetups, and conferences to connect with other UI/UX designers and potential employers in the agency industry.
Research agencies: Research agencies that align with your design values and interests. Look for agencies that are actively hiring UI/UX designers and have a strong reputation in the industry.
Be open to contract or freelance work: Agencies often hire contract or freelance UI/UX designers, allowing you to gain valuable experience and potentially lead to a full-time position.
Freelance UI/UX Design
Freelancers work independently as UI/UX designers for various clients on a project-by-project basis. As a freelance UI/UX designer, you will be responsible for all aspects of the design process, from client communication and project management to design execution and delivery.
Pros of Working as a Freelance UI/UX Designer:
Flexibility: Freelance UI/UX design allows you to have a flexible work schedule and the freedom to choose your projects and clients.
Higher earning potential: As a freelance UI/UX designer, you can set your rates and earn more than in-house or agency designers.
Wide range of projects: Freelance UI/UX design allows you to work on a wide range of projects across different industries, which can expand your design skills and knowledge.
Cons of Working as a Freelance UI/UX Designer:
Inconsistent income: Freelance work can be unpredictable, and it may be challenging to maintain a steady income stream.
You are solely responsible for all aspects of the design process as a freelance UI/UX designer, including client communication, project management, and design execution.
Isolation: Freelance work can be isolating, as you may need regular contact with colleagues or a team.
Examples of Successful Freelance UI/UX Designers:
Many successful freelance UI/UX designers have built successful careers in the industry. Some examples include:
Karen X. Cheng
Tobias van Schneider
Tips for Starting a Freelance UI/UX Design Career:
Build a strong portfolio: A strong portfolio is essential when starting a freelance UI/UX design career. Focus on showcasing your best work and highlighting your process and problem-solving skills.
Network: Networking is critical when starting a freelance UI/UX design career. Attend industry events, participate in online design communities, and reach out to potential clients.
Set clear expectations: Establish expectations with clients regarding project scope, timeline, and deliverables. Communicate your process and any potential challenges upfront.
Establish a workflow: Establish a workflow that works for you and your clients. Use tools such as project management software to keep track of project details and deadlines.
Establish a pricing structure: Establish a pricing structure that works for you and your clients. Consider hourly rates, project rates, and value-based pricing.
Differences Between In-House, Agency, and Freelance UI/UX Work
When choosing between in-house, agency, or freelance work as a UI/UX designer, there are several factors to consider. Each type of work comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
Comparison of Working as an In-House, Agency, or Freelance UI/UX Designer
In-House UI/UX Designer:
Work for a single company, typically on a full-time basis.
Collaborate closely with product managers, developers, and other stakeholders within the company.
Have a deep understanding of the company's products, brand, and user needs.
May have more opportunities for career growth within the company.
Agency UI/UX Designer:
Work for a UI/UX design agency, typically full-time.
Work on projects for a variety of clients across different industries.
Collaborate with other designers and stakeholders within the agency.
May have the opportunity to work on high-profile projects and with large brands.
Freelance UI/UX Designer:
Work independently on a project-by-project basis for different clients.
Have a high degree of autonomy and flexibility.
Have the opportunity to work on various projects and with different clients.
They are responsible for managing their business, including finding clients and managing projects.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between In-House, Agency, or Freelance Work
When deciding which type of UI/UX work to pursue, consider the following factors:
Work-life balance: In-house work may offer more stability and work-life balance, while freelance work may offer more flexibility but require longer hours.
Income: Freelance work may offer higher earning potential, while in-house work may offer more stable income and benefits.
Career growth: In-house work may offer more opportunities for career growth within a single company, while agency work may offer the opportunity to work on high-profile projects and with large brands.
Work environment: In-house and agency work typically offer a team-based environment, while freelance workers can be more isolated.
Job security: In-house work typically offers more security, while freelance work can be more unpredictable.
Choosing between in-house, agency, or freelance UI/UX work depends on your preferences, lifestyle, career goals, and financial needs. It's important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type of work and how they align with your career aspirations. Ultimately, deciding which type of work will best fit you is up to you.
It's important to understand the different types of work available to you and their advantages and disadvantages. One type of work may align better with your career goals, lifestyle, and financial needs.
Here are some final thoughts and advice for aspiring UI/UX designers:
Gain experience through internships, personal projects, or freelancing. Experience will help you build your portfolio and develop your skills.
Network with other UI/UX designers and professionals in the industry. Attend conferences, meetups, and other events to make connections and learn about job opportunities.
Improve your skills through online courses, workshops, and other educational resources. The UI/UX industry constantly evolves, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies is important.
Determine your priorities and goals, and choose the type of work that aligns with them. Consider the factors discussed in this article, such as work-life balance, income, career growth, work environment, and job security.
Be open to new opportunities and experiences. Your interests and goals change over time, and that's okay. Keep an open mind and be willing to adapt to new situations.
Lastly, pursuing a UI/UX design career can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Whether you work in-house, agency, or freelance, remember to stay curious, keep learning, and be passionate about your work. You can achieve your goals and create meaningful user experiences with dedication and hard work.
The GoCreate USA mentorship program, which is part of a Bootcamp experience, has made it easy for you if you are starting your UI/UX career. You could work as an apprentice with our partners and on live projects. Check the Brave Achievers GoCreate website for opportunities for training and mentorship.