Delivering and optimising a great online user experience is one of the greatest challenges for any business. In the aftermath of COVID-19, the demand for online solutions has skyrocketed. Especially in sectors such as retail and banking, there has been an explosion of online customers and in other industries the digitalization of products and services seems to be simply unstoppable too. Thus, an unforgettable User Experience (UX) is more relevant than ever before.
This article is a continuation of this one published in 2021.
It’s interesting to zoom in on the trends in the Belgian market anno 2023. What are the main movements we can observe? Which companies are hiring? For what kind of niches? And to which UX community to you belong yourself?
I'll try to give an answer to all these questions. The insights come directly from my experience as UX Recruiter at Ariad by taking a daily pulse of the market. In addition, I make use of data coming from LinkedIn and studies facilitated by Ariad.
What are the main trends and topics?
In general, the UX trends in Belgium are following the global trends, including a focus on user-centered design, personalization, and the integration of emerging technologies such as AI and voice assistants. Belgian companies are investing in UX research, design, and testing to improve their products and services, as they recognize the importance of delivering a positive user experience to remain competitive.
In addition, there is growing awareness of the importance of inclusive design and accessibility in UX, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can use digital products and services.
During daily chats I have with my community, I notice that loads of candidates are more and more focused in design systems and creating the best library possible for the organisations they work for. Creating streamlined, pixel perfect, user friendly products by using efficient processes is high on the agenda in Belgium. On this website you can find an overview of design systems in Belgium.
An interesting example can be seen within insurers in Belgium. This industry is often seen as conservative, but a recent research from Deloitte shows that the majority of players are focused on digital user service maturity, achieving a minimum UX score of 85% within their customer acquisition channels. This includes companies like AXA, KBC and Ethias. The fact that high scores are now commonplace in the industry indicates that investing in excellent UX is no longer a significant competitive advantage, but rather a standard practice.
Overall, Belgian companies are recognizing the crucial role of UX in achieving business success and are investing more resources into UX design, design systems and research to meet the evolving needs of their users. UX is no longer a differentiator, good UX is becoming the standard.
What is the size of the UX pool and its seniority?
At Ariad we have a vast community of experts who specialise themselves in different facets of the digital design field. On a daily basis I speak to people specialised in User Research, User Interface Design, Product Design or UX Strategy. Yet, outside of our community, there are more experts to be found on LinkedIn. When looking for an extensive list of keywords related to this field, a lot of candidates who might be a good addition to our community can be found.
In terms of the size of the segments, we can see that there is a big gap between the more junior segment (less than 2 years of experience) and the more senior professionals in Belgium (more than five years of experience). This could indicate a significant barrier for less experienced UX professionals to enter the workforce; or that potentially many professionals moved into UX after gaining related experience in different roles. Another feasible option is that these junior profiles aren’t LinkedIn users yet.
It is also relevant that from the example below, lots of people are in their current position for less than 1 or 2 years. Can this be explained by the project based nature of freelance assignments, or by other forces in the field? Further, during the last 10 years we’re witnessing that job-hopping is on the rise. In contrast with past generations, Millennials and Gen-Z feel way more comfortable with changing jobs every few years.
In case you’re interested in learning more about opportunities here at Ariad, do not hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Happy to support you in your job search and hop on a call.
UX Communities in Belgium
In Belgium, the community of UX Experts is a pretty well-oiled machine. Meaning that there are regular knowledge sharing sessions and workshops. If you’re looking for a place where you can connect with other professionals, and thus expand your network, we recommend you to participate in sessions of UX Belgium, the biggest community of UX experts in the country. Within this community, meetings are organised on a monthly basis and the location varies between Antwerp and Brussels (don’t worry, you can also attend online).
Here at Ariad we understand the importance of building communities. Over the years, our team has been connecting and reconnecting with the best digital experts in the field. To facilitate this even more, we launched community building at Ariad. We do this by supporting, coaching and enabling our consultants. The UX community, which consists of 30 professionals, is coached on their strengths (by use of the StrengthsFinder methodology). Moreover, monthly knowledge sharing sessions are hosted where Ariad consultants can explain more about their UX specialty. On a quarterly basis, we meet up in person and network even more. Sacha Kocovski is taking ownership of guiding our consultants and paving the way for their career development.
Take a look at this short video to learn more!
"What our UX does is niche, but Ariad succeeds in finding truly specialised design professionals."Katsuyuki Nagtami, Head of UX at Belfius
What companies are hiring?
After the hiring freezes that happened during Covid, 2021 and 2022 brought new focus on User Experience.
In general, bigger organisations in telecommunications, banking and the public sector are looking for UX experts. Yet, companies in transportation, oil & energy and e-commerce have invested in their UX practices as well. Together with these corporations there is a large list of digital agencies and studios providing services in consultancy or staffing services frequently hiring UX professionals.
When it comes to hiring UX professionals, here at Ariad we mainly focus on project staffing and contractors. We're specialised in finding the top medior to senior digital talent. In short, the A-players can be "plug & play" consultants for any company and solve real problems.
The past months, we have been supporting companies such as BNP Paribas Fortis, Belfius, De Lijn, Materialise and TotalEnergies with building up their UX teams. Understanding their challenges and what kind of expert they need, is what makes Ariad their staffing as strong as it is.