The 2018 State of Canadian UX Report

As preparations for CanUX 2018 were in full swing earlier this fall, we started to look back at our 9 years of existence and we quickly realized that as our community of practice has grown, there is very little reliable data that illustrates this transformation, or can point out areas where we are not quite as mature as we’d like to be. As a result, we decided to pilot an annual Canadian State of UX Report in 2018, ahead of an all out effort to create a comprehensive report for of the 10th edition of CanUX in 2019.

Although we did quite a bit of research before creating the questionnaire that constitutes the basis of this report, part of the reason why this first report was created is to identify areas where we’re missing data points, or where our data points are not detailed enough. This year’s report also creates a baseline that will allow us to follow the evolution of our community of practice year over year.

The report is quite lengthy, so we split it into four sections based on the type of data being analyzed: demographics, maturity, tools and salaries.

Part I: Demographics

For a first year report, we were very happy with the number of responses. A total of 447 UX professionals from 11 of Canada’s 13 provinces provided the baseline data for this year’s report, missing only Newfoundland and Nunavut. Of those 447 responses, 381 (85.2%) originated from Canada’s most populated provinces, Ontario and Quebec, home to 22.6 million of Canada’s 36.6 million people according to StatsCan’s 2017 Census. For our 2019 report, we hope that with your help we’ll be able to significantly increase our reach in the rest of country as well.

Number and Percentage of Responses by Province

The responses originated from 41 different locations, from coast to coast. The current home of CanUX, the Ottawa/Gatineau area, led the way with 171 (38.2%) responses, followed by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with 99 (22.1%) responses, and the Montreal area with 80 (17.9%) responses. Vancouver (15), Calgary (12), Edmonton (11) and Halifax (11) were the only other cities that provided double digit responses.

Number and Percentage of Responses by Urban Area // top 12

We were thrilled to discover we had achieved gender parity. Of the respondents who identified their gender, women accounted for 239 (53.0%) responses, followed by men with 200 (44.7%) responses, and non-binary individuals with 2 (0.44%) responses.

Responses by gender

Slicing the data by ethnicity, respondents who self identified as white provided 318 (71.1%) responses, while visible minorities accounted for 90 (20.1%) responses.

Responses by ethnicity

The majority of our respondents were aged 26 to 35 (36.4%) and 36 to 45 (33.1%), accounting for almost 70% of the total responses. This bodes well for our community going forward, as the numbers are balanced very well (47.6% to 51.9%) between respondents aged 18 to 35 and respondents aged 36 to 55+.

Responses by age range

From an education perspective, Bachelor’s Degrees are the most prevalent amounting to 191 (42.7%) responses, following by Master’s Degrees with 130 (29.1%) responses, and College Diplomas with 77 (17.2%) responses.

Responses by Education // grouped by gender

In terms of work experience, 225 (50.3%) survey respondents have less than 5 years of working experience, 95 (21.2%) have 5–10 years experience, and 114 (25.6%) have worked in the field for 10 years of more.

Responses by Work Experience // grouped by gender

More than half of all Canadian UX professionals acquire and keep up with the latest experience design skills at conferences, as 232 (52%) respondents have chosen this option. 209 (46.7%) respondents have received training during their school years, while only 108 (24.1%) have completed a UX certification. 131 (29.3%) respondents received no formal training in experience design, and it is the only category in which men outnumbered women even though overall there are more women respondents.

Responses by Training // grouped by gender

Part II: Maturity

Approximately 40% of responders self identify as ‘UX Designers’, while ‘UX Generalist’, ‘UX researcher’, ‘UX Lead’ and ‘Interaction Designer’ each hover around 25%. ‘UX Strategist’, ‘Information architect’ and ‘Visual Designer’ appear in 15–20% of responses, while all UX leadership positions (‘UX Manager’, ‘Head of UX’, ‘VP of UX’, ‘CXO’) and ‘Content Strategist’ are the least popular titles.

One clear oversight in this category was the title of ‘product designer’ as mentioned by a few respondents. Next year’s report will include this option as well.

While the chart doesn’t include a gender breakdown, we’d like to point out that only 5 of the 41 respondents (12.1%) who described their titles as ‘Head of UX’, ‘VP of UX’, or ‘CXO’ self identified as visible minorities, and only 13 of 41 (31.7%) self identified as women, meaning that in terms of diversity in leadership positions we still have a long way to go.

Responses and Percentage of Responses by UX Job Titles

193 (43%) of respondents are employed by a large corporation with 500 or more employees, followed by medium to large corporations with 100 to 500 employees (16.7%) and small companies with less than 10 employees (15%). Companies with 10 to 100 employees accounted for about 25% of the total responses, and are the least represented segments in our report .

Responses and Percentage of Responses by Company Size

As most of the respondents work in large corporations, it is somewhat expected that the most prevalent ratio of UX professionals to development professionals is 1 to 16+ (25.3 %). It is however encouraging that almost 46% of respondents work in UX consultancies or have a UX to devs ratio of 1 to 1–3 or 1 to 4–8.

Responses and Percentage of Responses by UX to Developers Employe Ratio

Based on the numbers in the employee ratio chart above, it’s not a surprise that from a maturity perspective, most respondents (157 or 35.1%) work for companies operating at Level 2: Interested. Second most respondents (105 or 23.5%) work in an improved maturity level, Level 3: Invested, while approximately 27% of respondents work in organizations showing advanced levels of maturity (Level 4 or 5). However, it is encouraging that only 45 (10.1%) of respondents work in companies that are oblivious to UX (Level 1).

If we were to assign an integer corresponding to the level number for each level, the national average of our responses would be 2.89. This puts us above Level 2: Interested, close to Level 3: Invested, but not quite there. This is an indicator that we will closely monitor in our reports in subsequent years.

Responses and Percentage of Responses by Maturity Levels

Part III: Tools

From an interaction design and prototyping tools perspective, the Adobe Creative Suite (62.8%) is leading the way on the strength of its graphics editing programs (Photoshop and Illustrator). Given that more than half of our respondents have less than 5 years experience in the field, it’s not surprising to find Sketch and InVision following closely behind at 49.2% each . The only other tools currently holding a solid foothold in the market included HTML/CSS (41.6%), Axure RP (32.7%) and Balsamiq (24.6%).

Responses and Percentage of Responses by Interaction Design & Prototyping Tools

The distribution of the top UX research tools is much significantly skewed towards the top 2. The Optimal Workshop Suite (35.3%) and UserTesting (28.4%) appear to be the only research tools with a significant user base in the Canadian market. Hotjar (11.6%) and Morae (10.1%) are the only other tools reaching double digits percentage wise.

Responses and Percentage of Responses by Research Tools

Unlike the previous two charts, where we listed a number of options and allowed respondents to choose among them, our top collaboration tools were compiled based on write-ins only. In this category Slack is the uncontested leader with 34.4% of the responses, with only Google Suite and InVision hitting double digits at 14.1% and 11.6% respectively. Atlassian’s well known JIRA and Confluence tools, and online task board Trello are the other tools rounding up the top 6. We will list all these answers as the starting options for our 2nd State of Canadian UX Report in 2019.

Responses and Percentage of Responses by Collaboration Tools

Part IV: Salaries

As we mentioned in our sneak peak presentation by Cornelius and Tanya at CanUX this year, finding reliable salary data relevant to Canadian UX professionals is quite difficult, and the numbers vary significantly from source to source. Being able to get this information directly from practitioners was one of the main driving forces behind creating this report in the first place.

One missing area we’ve identified while sifting through the responses and your comments is differentiating between employees (who are paid an annual salary) and consultants (who are paid an hourly or daily rate). Next year’s report will deal with this duality upfront and will allow people to compare figures within the category they fall into (salaried employees or hourly/daily paid consultants).

We compared salaries between our Canadian respondents and UX salary data for the US as of Nov 1st, 2018, and we found out that the average Canadian UX professional salary (Cdn$81,962) is Cdn$37,272 or 31.2% less than average advertised salary for American UX professionals. These figures were calculated based on the exchange date on Nov 1st, 2018.

Salary comparison between Canada and the US // data as of Nov 1st, 2018.

The average salary for women UX professionals in Canada is $78,095, while the average male salary is $86,364. This means women in Canada make an average of $8,269 or 9.57% less than the men.

Average salaries for women and men in Canada

If we slice the salary and gender data by experience, the numbers paint an interesting picture. Earlier (< 3 years of experience) and later in our careers (>8 years of experience), men tend to have significantly higher salaries than women. In a specific half decade mid career (3–8 years of experience), women reverse the trend and make slightly more than men.

Salary by Experience // grouped by gender

In most sectors, the trend of average salaries for women being lower than men’s also holds true. The one exception is the NGO/Non-Profit sector, where it appears that women tend to have a significantly higher salary, but the small sample sizes makes it less likely to be able to generalize those figures.

Salary by Company Type // grouped by gender

The correlation between salary and experience that was observed above when sliced by gender also holds generally true if the data is sliced by ethnicity. However, unlike gender averages, white UX professionals (the dark bars) consistently earn more than their visible minority counterparts (the white bars), with the exception of 5–8 years of experience slice, where visible minorities seem to earn more.

As the chart comparing salaries by experience grouped by gender showed earlier, and the grouping by ethnicity shows below, figures tend to drop by about 10% in the 10–15 years of experience group, irrespective of gender or ethnicity, only to recover past the 15 year mark. We pointed this out in our CanUX 2018 presentation and the conference attendees have offered a number of hypotheses as possible reasons, including people having children, people wanted to spend time with their families as children reach a certain age, a shift in priorities where happiness is becomes more important than money, people taking time off, etc. If you have another idea about why this might be the case, please let us know in the comments.

Salary by Company Type // grouped by ethnicity

When slicing the data by company type, those self identifying as white (the dark bars) report significantly higher salaries than visible minorities (the light bars). The largest discrepancy in salaries occurs in the NGO/Non-profit and Academia/Education sectors, where visible minorities are shown to make significantly less.

Average Salary by Company Type // grouped by ethnicity

To conclude our salary conversation, below is the chart that absolutely shocked us when we were compiling this report. Average salaries for women of visible minorities ($71,000) are slightly lower than those for men of visible minorities ($73,684). These numbers are significantly lower than their white counterparts where women and men make an average of $80,030 and $89,855.

If we compare the salaries of women of minority and white men, the difference in average salaries is a whopping $18,855, meaning that women of visible minority make 21% less than white men. As we stated in our CanUX 2018 presentation, we must do better as a community of practice, and we must hold ourselves at higher standards than we currently are. If you are someone who controls and/or sets UX salaries within a team or an organization, we’d like to encourage you to slice your own employee salary data by gender and ethnicity and try to normalize it.

Average Salary by Ethnicity // grouped by gender

In conclusion we’d like to address something that seems to have become a trend in state of UX articles lately. Many people inside and outside the global UX community are of the opinion that the profession of UX as we know it is anywhere from ‘past its heyday’ to ‘dead’. Let us reassure you that the widespread reports of UX being dead as a profession have been greatly exaggerated. While some of these headlines are mostly clickbait, the number of open vacancies for UX positions in Canada (and abroad), and the salaries commanded by UX professionals suggest the opposite: UX as a community of practice is growing, is healthy and is evolving. Our respondents overwhelmingly support this assessment as 292 of our 447 respondents (65.3%) answered that their organization is planning on hiring additional UX professionals in the coming year.

That’s all folks. We really hope you’ll participate again next year (or if you haven’t participated this year, please consider adding your perspective in 2019).

Happy Holidays and see you in 2019!

Experience design professional. Troublemaker. Mars Rover. Wanderer. Nomad. Part-time vagabond. Co-chair of @CanUXconf, founder of @ampli2de.

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