In 1999, I had been working in the ‘new media’ field for 4 years and realised that the market in Melbourne was limited; my options to get more experience were either go to Sydney or go overseas. As a true Melbournian, I went overseas.

For 15 years I worked in the USA and UK, developing and honing my information architecture and UX skills, creating amazing friendships with UX professionals across the globe, and doing great work with organisations from the BBC to Time Out, Office of National Statistics to Microsoft.

But in 2014 there was a realisation that I needed to go home. My elderly parents would not be around for forever, my brother had married and had a child, and I needed to be with family.

Via the power of LinkedIn and my network, I found myself teaching at General Assembly in Melbourne; an ideal place for someone to make connections and understand the lay of the Australian UX scene.

After 2 years back, I am so glad I made the decision to return home. I have met wonderful colleagues, who have become friends and performed really interesting work. Of course living in Melbourne, I have to deal with the wet and miserable winters, but in Sydney…

Here are my lessons learnt:

  • Australia is still a small UX market, but is growing. The jobs are mostly for UX Designers; but there is also a thriving market for UX Researchers.
  • Experience away from Australia is valued, in particular when people have a mix of agency and in-house experience. Working overseas in more mature UX markets, people have more exposure to all aspects of UX from service design to content strategy, and therefore can bring those skills into the Australian market.
  • Many of our largest institutions like ‘the big 4 banks’ value User Experience/Customer Experience, and bring the principles of Human Centre Design to all aspects of their products and services.
  • There is a mix of agencies, start-ups, consultancies, digital businesses and corporate businesses looking for UXers in the Australian market. The range of work and differing business cultures means that there is a role to suit every person.
  • There is a thriving community. In Sydney it is based around the Sydney chapter of Interaction Design Association (ixDA) who host monthly workshops and seminars. In Melbourne there are many meet-ups ranging from the UX Bookclub to UX Gatherings. Australia-wide, UX Australia provides a yearly conference where people can get together, learn from other UXers and of course, network.

If you are interested in coming back home or would like to add some Australian experience to your portfolio, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me: Mags Hanley via my LinkedIn page.