This is where most will end up, because too often the next step in pay
grade is only achievable by moving into management.
This of course is a terrible idea because it takes the best designers
and promotes them into management, where they can't design.
But to become a manager, when "managing" is an entirely different
discipline and requires different talent, just to conform to a broken
system, seeking better rewards, seems like the wrong path to me...
I'm an IxD manager, and I still design. A lot. My boss, who is a VP,
also designs. A lot.
Becoming a manager doesn't lobotomize you. Sure, not everyone has the
aptitude or interest to manage others, but I find it very rewarding. In
fact, I won't seriously consider any position that doesn't give me the
opportunity to mentor, recruit, and reward other IxD professionals. I
get as much a kick out of that as I do from executing a good design.
As I've mentioned in other posts, I created the role of "Principle IxD"
in our group to attract and retain the kind of designer who just wants
to design, and doesn't want to be burdened with managerial
responsibilities. It's a role I've held in the past (and enjoyed), so I
know its value.
If you're in an organization that doesn't have capable designers in
management positions, or doesn't have a Principle IxD-type role...the
burden is on you to educate your peers and continue to demonstrate the
value you add to your company. Like every other IxD with 10+ years
experience, I've had to do this many times. It's a hard fight, too
often unrewarded, but the landscape is much better these days than it
was in 1998 when you were either a programmer, a graphic designer, or
And if you can't change the world you're in, move on. The opportunities
are out there, and the IxD managers are waiting for you.