I think it’s vital that UX leaders start speaking out against the unicorn trend.
That said, it’s not surprising me we’re seeing more and more UX unicorn job ads. UX is at about the same point of maturity in terms of non-UXer understanding and acceptance of the various disciplines as web development (read: HTML & CSS because that is pretty much all we had back then) was in the late 1990s/early 2000s.
Back then, you’d see job ads for “graphic designers” with requirements like this:
- Must have 3-5 years experience.
- Degree in Graphic Arts or Design preferred.
- Must be an expert in QuarkExpress or Pagemaker.
- HTML skills a plus!
Which is basically “We’re looking for someone to layout our print publications and oh yeah, we know we need one of these websites people keep talking about but aren’t really convinced so we don’t want to pay for a specialist and have decided to lay that off that responsibility onto the poor graphic artist too.” Or you’d get the opposite: web designer ads with “Experience with QuarkExpress and Pagemaker preferred.”
UX is in the same boat right now. The prime example: the rise of job ads looking for some horrible mutation they’re calling “UX Developer.”
Don’t get me wrong, I think UXers should know some code, and know enough about code to be able to talk with coders, but I agree with Alan Cooper: we don’t need to be coders perse.
In most cases, a company expecting one person to be able to do qualitative and quantitative research and synthesis, do visual design, do content strategy, IA, and content production, and do front and back end development doesn’t understand what they need or is so cheap working there will be a nightmare