UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) are two growing fields worldwide.

The user interface is the graphical layout of an application. It consists of buttons users click on, the text they read, the images, sliders, entry fields, and all the other items a user interacts with. This includes screen layout, transitions, interface animations and every single micro-interaction. UI designers decide what the application is going to look like – all the visual elements, interaction, or animations. They choose color schemes and button shapes, down to even the width of lines and the fonts used for text. UI designers create the look and feel of an application’s user interface.

A UX designer works on the user’s experience of the app which is determined by how they interact with it. UX designers are also concerned with an application’s user interface and are in charge of determining how the user interface operates. They determine the structure of the interface and the functionality. They design how the interface works with an understanding that if it works well and feels seamless, the user will have a good experience. The role of UX/UI designer is a common one in the Israeli hi-tech sphere. Many people are trained in both UX/UI and can apply this training to be product designers as well.

Rachee Jacobs, Product Designer at Houzz, https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachee-jacobs/

Please provide us with a brief description of your work:

I am a product designer at Houzz, the leading home remodeling platform in the world. It is a place you can find inspiration for home design. The main market is the United States, but it is available other places as well. The main R&D center is in Palo Alto, but I work in the Tel Aviv branch, which employs about 100 people.  Most of our work is on the mobile app and on software for the home professionals to do business management. It’s a B2B (business to business), SAAS (software as a service) for home professionals. I work on the desktop and mobile apps.

How did you find your job?

I found my first job in the field through a mentor in my bootcamp. A recruiter from Houzz reached out to me but I didn’t have enough of a background at the time. After working and building up my relevant experience, she reached out and I was hired.

What experience/training do you need to get into your field?

I went to UX academy, Design Lab and trained online. It’s an American school, but they have some Israeli mentors. I actually got a job through my Israeli mentor. I had an undergrad degree in web design but wanted to enhance my UX skills and so I went to a bootcamp. Since then I’ve had many jobs in the field UX and product design.

What degree should someone making Aliyah come with, in order to break into your field?

Most places like if you have a degree in Art. I didn’t have that background, but I went to a bootcamp and was able to build up to it. It is important that you’re good at visual design. Unrelated to a degree, you need to keep doing and creating things, as well as have an eye for detail. Experience goes a long way here. Just doing a 6-month bootcamp isn’t always enough, it’s important get experience on the side – by designing apps for free for friends, for example. They can look past not having the degree if your work speaks for you and if you have the experience.

Does it make any difference whether you studied in Israel or abroad?

Not really.

What are the benefits and challenges of working in UX?

It’s a field I feel is growing and getting more popular, & job availability is great. It’s a super interesting role. You get to speak to so many stakeholders and be a team player. It’s a role that’s both creative and strategic. It’s a very dynamic role with new challenges all the time, and it’s so cool to be able to create and see how people respond. It can be hard that a lot of it is problem solving, for good and for bad.  Because it’s a newer role sometimes people don’t always understand the value of a UX designer and they just ask you to create, without you having a say in what is created and the definition of the product. It’s important for UX designers to be a part of the conversation. This is dependent on the type of company and how they value the role of design in their product.

What is the salary range?

Jerusalem generally has a lower range than Tel Aviv.

The Tel Aviv salary range for someone with 0-1 years of experience can be anywhere between 8 or 9–12,000 NIS a month.  2-5 years of experience can be 13-18,000 NIS/month.  5+ years of experience can be 20-30,000 NIS a month. Jerusalem can run 2-3,000 NIS less.  UX can make a bit more UI because they do both the visual and the research part.

Do you need Hebrew to work in your field in Israel?

Since it’s a visual field, you can easily get by without great Hebrew. Meetings will be in Hebrew, but you don’t need a high level to work. The market is often international, so the users are generally abroad. Sometimes you even get to travel to do a research trip!

Any advice for students interested in going into your field?

You need to work hard, do pro-bono work, and keep creating. This gives you the chance to learn from your experiences and it makes you better. You can find prompt generator websites that give you an idea to design. You can do a daily UI challenge where every day they email you something you should design. Keep creating, keep going to meetups and networking. There are a lot of opportunities, but it can be challenging to get in without experience. You may not land at an ideal company at first, but the experience is valuable. Things are changing in this field every day so keep up your learning, even when you have a full time job.

What are some important resources or insights people should know when entering the job market here?

You MUST have an online portfolio and have your own website. A PDF is not enough. You need to show case studies on each of your projects and how you got to your results. It’s important to have at least three on the website. There are social media platforms like Dribble, where you can post different project you have done, and potential employers look there. It can help to have articles written on Medium. There is a website called WOO.IL where you make a profile and they suggest jobs to you. It has happened a couple of times that I interviewed somewhere, and it didn’t work out. However, eventually they did reach back out, so it’s good to cast a wide net and be on these different platforms. There are Facebook groups that are specific for UX and a lot of networking and meetups in the community. That’s a great way to go and start meeting people in order to brand yourself.

Another piece of advice I would give is to consider whether you want to work at a product company or a design company (where they are outsourced to other companies). At a product company, you get to know one company or product well, and at a design company you have different projects all the time. Design studios will sometimes take more junior people because they need more designers. Also, smaller companies generally have a smaller budget and hire for a one-man show with only one design person. Bigger companies may break up the roles more clearly between UI designer, UX researcher, UX writers, etc.

Because this field is relativity new, and not all companies know exactly what it means, job titles can be all over the place, and you can often tell through the job description if they really want a UX designer or whether they just want a little bit of graphic design or marketing design. Some companies who don’t know exactly what UX is, won’t always include a lot of research work. If that is important to you, it can be good to feel this out when interviewing. You can push to educate the companies and they are often open to this. Companies are learning but often it’s the UX designer’s role to educate.

Interview with Emily Wallik, Product Designer for Cisco https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilywolmark/

Please provide us with a brief description of your work.

I work as a product designer at Cisco. I work as part of a design team of six  product designers, two UX researchers, and three technical writers.

What is your professional background?

I studied studio art with a focus graphic design at college in the U.S. During my first graphic design job in Israel, I was looking to do something a bit more dynamic and based on research & facts, rather than personal preference- so I decided to learn UX design. I completed Designlab’s UX Academy, which is a fully online course that can be completed full time over 3-4 months, or part time over 6-8 months.

How did you find your job?

After completing the course, I started by working with two early-stage startups as a freelancer. This built my portfolio and gave me good work experience.  When I was looking for an in-house job, I found the most listings on LinkedIn, Glassdoor & Facebook goups. Both jobs I’ve had were found on LinkedIn.   The UX hiring process generally looks like this: submit application, short phone interview, on-site interview, complete a project, second interview, and so on, depending on the length of the company’s hiring process.  You can generally learn a lot about a company’s culture based on their interview process.

Do you need Hebrew to work in your field in Israel?

In the jobs I’ve had, speaking Hebrew is not crucial. Workplaces are often Hebrew environments, but the main customer base is often in the United States,  or other English speaking countries, so English can be an advantage. In general, design agencies require a higher level of Hebrew because they are servicing Israeli start ups & companies.

What degree should someone making Aliyah come with, in order to break into your field?

If you can find a program in interaction design, user design, graphic design, or another digital design/art degree, that is ideal. . Degrees such as Psychology and Communications can be relevant too, but some sort of  art/design background is generally important.

What are the benefits of working in UX?

UX/Product Design is a great way to break into the hi-tech world, and most positions offer good salaries. There can be a lot of flexibility and mobility which I appreciate as a mom. Specifically at Cisco, because of the international team, hours aren’t traditional, which allows me to leave early in the afternoon to be home with my son and finishing working in the evenings after he’s gone to sleep.  Overall, it’s a really interesting job- so dynamic and never boring. Every day looks a little bit different and I love that!

What is the salary range?

Salary very much depends on experience, location, and company size.  Starting salaries for a junior designer can start off with 10-14,000 NIS a month and with more experience, can move up to 16-25,000+ NIS a month. Someone very senior can continue to climb.

What recommendations can you offer Olim interested in working in this field?

UX design has become a really hot profession in Israel.  While there are a lot of jobs in UX, the market is saturated with a lot of talent, making it a much more challenging and competitive field. Most people think that because they are artistic or like design, they should become a UX Designer, but you have to have the right eye/mindset and be really dedicated & work hard to make it in the field.  It isn’t enough to just be a creative person.

Any advice for students interested in going into your field?

New graduates are most likely to secure employment at small startups. They have smaller budgets and are generally more willing to take bigger risks on new designers.  People often want to work at a larger company so they can be part of a team and have a mentor, but there can also be huge perks to working for a smaller company/start up (having more authority, getting to experience working on different parts of a product, faster learning curve).