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2017 Designer to Developer Ratios Trends

Posted in Customer Experience, Design Thinking, Experience Design, and Technology

One of the questions that I get all the time is “What is the best Designer to Developer ratio?” As you can imagine, this can vary depending on marketplace and business goals. If you developing an engineering tool for engineers then your engineers who are developing it probably have a good idea of who is using the tool, what problems need to be solved, what goals engineers’ have, etc. But if you are solving a problem in a market that is not for engineers and you need to understand your customers pain points, goals, what frustrates them, what delights them, what makes them say “Wow! I got to tell my friends and colleagues about this!” then you are going to need people to help with user research, design and testing.

With the interest again in Design Thinking, we are seeing companies increase their number of Designers to Developers. In 6 major tech companies have doubled their design hiring goals in last half decade, Dylan Field shares:

You know design is having its moment when IBM, the stodgy normcore dad of the tech industry, gets in on the action. In the last five years, Big Blue has grown its designer to developer hiring target from 1:72 to 1:8.

companies like Atlassian have gone from 1 designer : 25 engineers in 2012 to 1 designer : 9 developers in 2017. Uber’s design team has grown 70x since 2012, and they’re now targeting 1 designer: 8 engineers. Check out the rest:

These numbers show that ‘design thinking’ isn’t just a trendy new buzzword — companies are willing to put money and staff into it at a higher rate than ever before. It’s a small sample size, but it’s some of the first hard data available on tech design hiring.

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