Learn more about the opportunities, responsibilities, and salaries of UX/UI designers working in government here.
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Government websites and online services have a reputation for being clunky and difficult to navigate—user experience designers are trying to change that. Although progress has at times been slow due to some of the challenges government workers face, such as funding limitations and shifts in political priorities, many government agencies have awoken to the need to embrace digital technology and improve the digital experiences of their websites and platforms, which has led to increased demand for UX/UI designers.
Part of the urgency that’s driving the hiring of UX designers, researchers, and analysts is the fact that government websites and information portals are used by huge swaths of the population. A PEW Government Online Report found that 61% of adults looked for information or made transactions on a government website in 2010, and that 31% used social media to find government information. Recent public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have also brought attention to the importance of government sites and services that are easy to navigate, provide clear information, and offer reliable service.
“You will be hard pressed to find a group of people as passionate about delivering public good as the ones in the public sector,” said Jolene Ng Jia Ying, a designer at Grab who has worked for government agencies. “Whilst the execution might be questionable at times, the original intentions are always good.”
UX design trade publication UX Planet went further in a recent article that discussed not only the good intentions of public sector workers, but the role of UX designers in particular in delivering on those intentions. “Designers have the capacity to show people that government can be an effective instrument of good.”
Government is one of the few sectors where UX/UI designers can have a significant impact on the digital experiences of a large portion of the population. This is because government agencies need to serve all citizens, which means their websites and platforms have to be accessible and usable regardless of the end-user’s tech-savviness, disability status, gender identity, sexual orientation, or national origin.
The work of UX/UI designers goes beyond choosing fonts, typography, and aesthetically pleasing web design—UX design is tied to user understanding and quality of service, and strong design can result in fewer points of friction, intuitive navigation, and a great experience that leads to helping citizens and residents access the information they need. It’s a role that requires equal parts design acumen, problem-solving skill, and user empathy.
In government, UX design solutions are primarily used in the following areas:
Most UX/UI designers bring technical design and UX skills to the table such as the ability to conduct and make sense of research and user testing; experience with creating prototypes, wireframes, mockups, workflows, user flows, site maps, and storyboards; interactive design; graphic design; information architecture; ease of collaboration with cross-functional teams; and proficiency with tools such as Sketch, Invision Studio, Proto.io, Webflow, Balsamiq, Axure, and Illustrator. And while these skills might help a designer create visually appealing web design, the government sector expects its UX/UI designers to be creative and empathetic problem solvers who can understand the usability issues of a diverse population, and develop ways of engaging those users.
Technology development and modernization are inevitable in the public sector, according to UX Planet. “But, if users are not effectively engaged, then the time, effort, and dollars put into these efforts will flounder at the adoption layer.” This is why the research, testing, and iterative work of UX/UI designers is so important in government.
Some of the key responsibilities of UX/UI designers in government roles include:
Among hiring managers, UX/UI design is one of the top five most in-demand skills, according to a LinkedIn report, with the demand expected to rise throughout 2021. And as government agencies continue to expand their digital presence, we can expect demand to continue rising for designers who can optimize user experiences; make websites, tools platforms more accessible; and transform information delivery for the better.
UX/UI designer salaries are typically determined by education, years of experience, location, and organization type. As of 2021, the average base salary of an entry-level UX/UI designer in the government sector is around $74,000. The average base salary of a senior-level UX/UI designer in the government sector is around $100,966.
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