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Design Redefined: XD Salary Guide Insights

What should you pay your design talent? You may have a ballpark figure in mind, a gut feeling based on personal experience, competitor intel you overheard, or whispers about recent hires. Still, you question your own intuition…

Should you play it safe with a lower range? Or do you go bold, setting a number that reflects the impact you expect from this hire? When you post your next design job and reach the dreaded “Salary Range” field – don’t pause, skip, or take your best guess. Use industry benchmarks to craft competitive pay packages and attract the right designer for the role.

Onward Search’s recent 2024 Experience Design Salary Guide includes the most up-to-date pay ranges for a wide variety of highly sought-after Product, UX/UI and Accessibility roles. The guide also explores the most in-demand professions in the field, top cities for design talent, and market trends to know. While the full resource covers everything you need to set your salaries for success, here are a few key takeaways, organized by section:

1. Introduction: Design Has Been Redefined

Do you need a UI designer to elevate your website’s look, or do your goals call for a UX designer who can map out the full user journey? In the ever-changing world of design, you need to properly define the position to determine the pay. This is especially challenging as new roles emerge, old ones evolve, and the field continues to expand. Once an entirely visual discipline, “design” is now synonymous with “experience design” and used to describe UI, UX, and more. Educated hiring managers must understand each role and its responsibilities before finalizing salary figures.

2. In-Demand Design Roles: Product Designers Win Top Spot

Even with the rise of AI, requests for design expertise remain high. And the need for product design is growing at an unprecedented rate. Our 2024 Experience Design Salary Guide breaks down the top 10 most sought-after positions of the year based on client demand and ‘Product Designer’ took the top spot. Unlike other areas of design, product design requires both business acumen and UX knowledge, as these designers must ensure the end product is both desirable for users and viable for the company. The unique combination of skills required for the job make qualified candidates hard to find and high in demand.

3. XD Salary Data: Digital Accessibility SMEs Earn $200K Annually

Although product designers are the most in-demand, digital accessibility (a11y) strategists or subject matter experts (SMEs) command the highest salaries, according to the 2024 Experience Design Guide. With new laws emerging and enforcement on the rise, a11y expertise is experiencing an unprecedented surge in demand. Across industries, companies are seeking strategists to help integrate a11y into the design process, ensure digital assets are accessible to people with disabilities, and elevate experiences for all. The role is senior in nature, and few candidates have the experience, making proven SMEs justified as top earners in their field.

4. Top Cities for Design Professionals: New York City Ranks #1

Whether you’re hiring a product designer, digital accessibility strategist, or any other design role, location matters. Different cities have varying living costs, levels of demand, and design professionals available for hire. Due to the competitive salaries and plethora of opportunities in New York City (NYC), it is listed as the top US destination for design professionals in our 2024 Experience Design Salary Guide. This hub of talent also boasts top design schools, major tech giants, and leading design firms. To calculate the right salary figures for NYC positions or any other city, use the percentage multipliers in any of our 2024 Salary Guides.

5. Design Market Trends: Over 80% Are Switching Companies

Interestingly, the 2024 Experience Design Salary Guide revealed that over 80% of design professionals are open to switching jobs or companies in the coming months. Disillusioned by organizational changes and determined to improve their compensation packages, full-time and contract designers are increasingly seeking new opportunities. Despite fierce competition, the job market remains robust, ensuring high levels of job mobility, and proportionately high salaries. As design professionals take advantage, employers must take notice and select the right pay ranges to allure talented candidates.

While many variables influence the decisions of designers, compensation remains among the top reasons companies win and lose great hires. As such, the 2024 Experience Design Salary guide isn’t just a resource for jobseekers but a strategic tool for employers. By understanding the evolving landscape, in-demand roles, and salary expectations, you can make competitive offers, take your hiring strategy to new heights, and empower design that delights.


Download XD Salary GuideExperience Design Salary Guide

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