Tech Layoffs & UX Witing

Will Layoffs in Tech Impact UX Writers?

Whether itโ€™s 10 years into your career or before youโ€™ve even had your first day at work, getting laid off sucks. The loss of income and the fear of what comes next can be overwhelming and stressful.

But itโ€™s not all doom and gloom.

In this article, weโ€™ll look at how the wave of layoffs across tech companies like Twitter, Meta, and Amazon has affectedย UX writersย and what you can do to stay on track with your career.

Why are tech workers getting hit so hard?

Right now, we know that more than 35,000 tech workers across 72 companies have been laid off in November, adding to a total of over 128,000 tech jobs lost worldwide in 2022.

Itโ€™s difficult to blame the wave of large-scale layoffs on any one factor. But many of the companies making public statements have cited at least one of the following primary causes:

  • A pandemic-induced recruiting boom: when life migrated online and lockdowns drove up demand for tech products and online services, companies hired a huge number of employees, which have become too expensive to retain, now that offline life has picked up again
  • Mounting interest rates: tech companies, especially startups, are under huge pressure with banks raising rates and reversing pandemic-era monetary easing to ward off soaring inflation.ย 
  • Loss in ad revenue: Appleโ€™s privacy policy changes, which now allow users to opt out of targeted ads, have made a massive dent in the once enormous source of revenue for many companies. Snap, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have reported a loss of about $10bn in the third and fourth quarters of the year.
  • A kerfuffle of economic and political issues: the ongoing war in Ukraine, high fuel costs, supply chain issues, and a decline in personal PC sales have made companies look to job cuts as a way of reducing operating costs.

How have the layoffs impacted UX writers?

Itโ€™s hard to find a breakdown of layoffs by department since most news outlets have focused on their general impact on the tech industry.

Whileย layoffs.fyiย gives a more worker-level insight, itโ€™s important to note that the layoff lists there are opt-in, so they arenโ€™t reflective of the real numbers. The difference between the layoff count reported in the press and the layoffs.fyi lists can be huge.

Interviewing.ioย did a great job last month of analyzing the data on layoffs with a breakdown by department. According to their findings,ย product & design departments across tech companies in the US, which would include UX writers, lost 12% of their staff in 2022.

Sources like layoffs.fyi,ย We Worked at Shop, andย Crunchbase, show that layoffs have affected nearly all types of UX roles, including:

  • UX/UI designers
  • Product designersย 
  • Product managers
  • UX/UI writers
  • Content designers
  • Content strategists
  • Content developers
  • UX researchers

However, product & design wasnโ€™t affected nearly as bad as other departments. According to interviewing.io, the hardest hit were:

  • Recruiting, which lost 50% of its staff
  • HR (48%)
  • Finance (30%)

Even though theyโ€™re opt-in, a quick trawl through the lists on layoffs.fyi shows that roles in the above departments are in the majority.

Itโ€™s also important to note that it wasnโ€™t just junior staff who have been affected. Many who are now jobless had years of experience, some even over a decade.

The turbulent post-pandemic economy has made a lot of companies shift from a growth model to a more conservative โ€œmaintain and surviveโ€ approach.ย 

This means that while they tighten their belts to adjust to a reduced customer base by slowing down growth and changing their offerings, they will most likely also impose a hiring freeze, leading newly laid-off workers, especially those at junior level and those requiring a work visa or permit, to face more competition on the job market.

Itโ€™s hard to predict just how the UX landscape will shift. Since many businesses will steer away from expansion or product development because of sky-high interest rates, we might see fewer UX personnel assigned to new work.

But this doesnโ€™t mean job opportunities will disappear.ย 

Those laid off can still avail of many opportunities at mid-size and small companies in tech and non-tech areas, such as health care, retail, government, and financial services.

The cost of bad UX writing

UX writing is still a flexible, in-demand skill thatโ€™s valuable in just about any industry. And luckily, more and more companies are catching on to the value of investing in good UX.

But if youโ€™re ever feeling doubtful about your contribution to the world, just try imagining any digital product with zero wordsโ€ฆ

Diddy from Dexter's Labratory is about to push a red button with the caption "what does this button do?"

We know that writing goes hand in hand with designโ€”when one falters, the other follows suit, contributing to an overall bad user experience and leaving a dent in the company’s reputation.

Hereโ€™sย an extensive pieceย on the cost of bad UX writing, written by seasoned content designer,ย Wojtek Aleksander.

For another confidence boost, here are some statistics on bad UX provided by some reputable global companies:

  • Research carried out byย Toptalย shows that 88% of users are less likely to return to a website with bad UX.

Misleading or vague copy, bad design, slow performanceโ€”any of these reasons can be a source of frustration for your target audience and an incentive to never return to a product or service.

  • According toย Kolsky, 13% of users will share their bad experiences with 15 or more people.

Thatโ€™s a huge chunk of a companyโ€™s customer base. Bad UX can very easily tarnish a brandโ€™s reputation.

  • PwCย found that 32% of customers say they would leave even a favorite brand after just one bad experience.

Fortunately, you as a UX writer have the power to turn a product into a real crowd-pleaser.

  • Googleย found that users are 62% less likely to purchase from a brand because of negative user experience.

People only do business with brands they are comfortable with. Thatโ€™s why the experience you create with your writing matters.

So what now?

First off, keep in mind that you matter and your work matters. UX experts are the leaders of the digital transformation age and are still changing the digital landscape as we know it.ย 

An important takeaway from all the noise on layoffs isย not to take it personallyย andย not to let the news bog you down.

Over the last few months, media coverage has made the tech industry look like an unstable, volatile landscape. But the reality is that cycles of boom and bust are very frequent in the tech industry and weโ€™ve been through them before. In fact, some of the biggest tech companies today, like Amazon, eBay, and Booking.com, have grown from theย dot-com bubble burst in the early 00s.

The Marketplace Tech podcast didย a great episodeย on the history of the industryโ€™s ups and downs with Margaret Oโ€™Mara of the University of Washington.

ย 

So if youโ€™re new to the industry, this is a great time to upskill and join the ranks of recession survivors.

Coping with a layoff

If youโ€™re in the process of getting a job, Andrew Astleford, UX Content Strategist at RingCentral and former UX Writing Academy mentor, wroteย a great pieceย on how to cope with a layoff and prepare for a job hunt as a UX writer.

Many UX writers have already taken to social media to reconnect with their online communities and seek new opportunities:

Weโ€™ve also seen some great solidarity from folks in the UX industry offering advice, job opportunities, or even just a sympathetic ear to those laid off. Itโ€™s great to see that weโ€™re not alone, even in hard times.

It’s hard to say what the future holds, but for now, despite some setbacks, writers working in tech companies seem to be weathering the storm. Let’s hope for smooth sailing in the days to come.

Further Reading

Coping with a layoff as a UX writer

5 Ways To Update Your LinkedIn Profile For A Career in UX Writing

6 Ways to Improve Your UX Writing in 5 Minutes a Day

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