With many businesses shutting down, either temporarily or permanently, because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19, more and more workers and the self-employed are becoming vulnerable to losing their jobs – some had lost their jobs anymore. This is regardless of what type of work they have – as a writer, artist, plumber, cook, corporate manager, etc. UX/UI designers are no exemption on the list.
There is not much we can do to alleviate the difficulty of the situation. It will take time before the dust settles off – and we’re not even sure when will that happen.
The best thing we can do is keep our hopes up even though things look pretty gloomy and pessimistic. This is not naïve optimism, though. While our situation today is very difficult, it’s not black-and-white either: some businesses are still running, the demand for UX/UI services is most likely still there, only that getting a job or project is more difficult.
So, what can UX/UI designers do to survive the economic downturn brought by the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are some suggestions:
1) Keep looking for a job
As just mentioned above, businesses are not totally shut down. Who knows, they are also looking for UX/UI designers to meet their operational needs.
Also, since many businesses operate online, there’s a relative demand for UX/UI services.
Take the time on looking for a job or project. Perhaps, at this point, it’s best you take any job or project you can find. The pay may be little or not stable, but at least you have some cash coming in.
So check your Upwork, and you may find that there’s some work waiting for you.
Also, keep in mind that this is not the only thing you can do during the pandemic. Read more below on what else you can do.
2) Pitch to industries with relatively high demand
We have emphasized that businesses are struggling these, but that’s not the whole picture. The pandemic had created numerous demand in some industries – just think of the toilet paper business!
Some industries that have relatively high demand are:
- Retail – especially for food and medicine.
- Delivery services – because of strict home quarantines, people rely on delivery services to get their foods, medicines and other needs.
- Banking (and other financial services) – financial services will not stop just because of the pandemic spreading out – or at least, let’s hope it won’t because it may signal the end of the world economy as we know today. Because banking is crucial in regulating our money, they have a relative demand that will keep them up.
- Utility services – electricity, water, telecommunications, and of course, WiFi, these things are simply essentials and must continue operating as much as possible.
- Entertainment and media – Entertainment will not just cease to exist, especially as people will get bored these days due to strict home quarantine regulations. Also, expect that content regarding coronavirus (for instance, education about coronavirus, business tips to survive the pandemic, and articles like this one) will begin sprouting, so you can have some opportunity to help them along the way (and get paid, of course).
These are just some of the industries that are relatively working well during the pandemic. Because they’re functioning well, you can offer your services and see if they take on your offer.
For instance, you can offer to improve a bank’s mobile app’s usability for a better transaction for its users. Or, if you see a local supermarket’s website with a not-so-good UX, you can pitch to them and, maybe, they’ll take on your offer.
Keep in mind that, many of these industries work mainly because of emergency purposes and not for commercial ones. Because of that, they may not take any offers right away. So, if possible, it’s important you see what value can you bring to them before pitching your services to them – otherwise, you might end up as spam to them.
Let’s just go back to our previous examples:
Can you help a bank improve its mobile app’s usability for a smoother and faster transaction between them and their customers?
Can you help your local supermarket fix their website’s UX so that their customers won’t have a hard time in making online purchases?
Not only you will earn some cash, but you will help the community as well in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a win-win!
3) Watch the market
Always remember that our situation today is temporary and that things will change. The big change we all look for – having things settled down – may not happen any time now, but minor changes in the market may give you new opportunities for earning income.
For example, check your Upwork and see what clients are looking for the day. Just because you don’t find a gig that suits you doesn’t mean you won’t find one anymore. Who knows, at any given time, a gig that suits you will be there, just waiting for your proposal?
4) Learn a new skill
If it’s really hard to find a gig that suits you, maybe it’s time to learn a new skill.
Most likely, you already have other skills that you can use to earn an income. If you have a skill in writing, then apply for writing gigs. If you have what it takes for design, then take design gigs.
You might be thinking, but I’m not really good at them. A decent skill level is sometimes already enough. And if you’re really not confident in your skill level, you can always learn and practice it.
The learning part will take time, of course, but if you invest your time in it, you’ll be better off in the long-run.
5) Take this time to spend with your loved ones and yourself
Okay, this last suggestion may have nothing to do with you being a UX/UI designer. But because there’s nothing much going around, you can take the time to think about your next career moves. It’s time you think about what you can do better with your career once the pandemic is gone and everything has settled in.
But it’s not just a career. Spend time with your family. Maybe you miss things that you probably didn’t notice back when everything is always busy.
Now, we know that things may not be financially well for you right now. The pandemic and lockdowns are unexpected, and unfortunately, not all people have the luxury of time to save some money.
But, at the end of the day, there’s more to life than just the bills. And the difficulties you and I face today may show us opportunities that we never thought existed.
Okay, we are getting hokey now. But the situations are really different now; gone are the days where all we think is how we can get the next gig, get-rich-quick schemes and other business/career “hacks” or “tips”.
It’s time to rethink not just about our careers, but about our life as well.
Conclusion: Everything is Temporary (Even the Coronavirus Pandemic)
If there is one thing we want to emphasize, it’s that everything is temporary – this includes the economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic we’re having today.
It’s also true for the markets: the difficulty of finding a job is temporary. Soon, the economy will go back on its feet and will roll wild again!
Keep safe, everyone!