Designer's Coffee #04: Adobe-Figma Drama, Future of Design with AI, and Designer Layoff Prep Checklist 🎁

2023 Wrap-Up Edition

Hey guys! 👋 
I hope you had a lovely Christmas. 🎄 

In this Holiday edition of Designer's Coffee, I wanted to wrap up this crazy year and share my thoughts on some of the biggest events. Here's what you need to know before jumping into next year:

  • Adobe-Figma Breakup

  • Designer Layoff Stories and Insights

  • Free Layoff Prep Checklist for Designers 🎁

  • Future of Design: AI and Design Founders

  • Personal News: I’m available for freelance work

Grab your Glühwein 🍷 (German mulled wine) and let’s start with this wrap-up.

Design news

In case you missed it, here’s the scoop. The Adobe-Figma merger is no longer happening.

Talk about a plot twist! Adobe was all set to acquire Figma for $20 billion, but now they need to pay a $1 billion breakup fee for nothing.

Adobe Figma breakup merger marriage acquisition by

🏛️ The power of regulations

The decision came after the European Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority raised red flags.

Their concerns? Adobe creating a near-monopoly in the design tool market.

Yet, there's more to the story than just monopoly. Regulators expressed concerns that Adobe's acquisition could prevent the innovation Figma has been driving independently. This isn't just regulator talk – designers themselves had these concerns since the merger news was first announced.

👀 What's Next?

On a personal note, I hated the thought of paying for the entire Adobe Cloud just to keep using Figma. I was also worried Adobe would simply ruin Figma. So, this news is a bit of a relief – no super-monopoly looming over our heads!

But let's not get too comfortable. Figma is a dominant force in product design right now, without much in the way of competition. While I'm a fan, the idea of being tied to just one option does raise an eyebrow. Hopefully, we'll see some new players emerge to spice up the design tool market.

Designer Layoffs 2023: A Year in Summary

I recently came across a refreshing piece by Matej Latin, who has put together some truly impactful stories about designers who were laid off this year. His article isn't just a collection of stories, though – it's packed with some thought-provoking insights. Here’s what caught my attention:

🎓 Seniority or loyalty doesn’t matter

Check this out: 52% of the designers laid off were in senior positions. Surprised? It's a bit counterintuitive, considering senior and lead designers are often seen as the pillars of a company. So, the big question is, why let go of such valuable players?

But wait, there’s more. You'd think loyalty with a company would offer some security, right? Turns out, not really. 54% of the laid-off designers had been with their companies for a good 2 to 8 years.

What's the deal, then? On the surface, we see experienced folks loaded with knowledge and expertise, being let go. But as we dive deeper, this confusing trend starts to unravel, showing us there's more to the story.

Summary of Designer Layoffs 2023 by

🦸‍♂️ The Unwilling Rebels

About 22% of the designers who were laid off felt it was due to retaliation, or in more direct terms, revenge 👺 . Why? Well, 41% had questioned their manager's competence, and 24% had clashed with company leadership.

We designers, by our very nature, don't just nod along. We ask 'why', we challenge the status quo, and we see beyond just the immediate tasks – sometimes, that includes calling out less-than-stellar management.

Now, here's a number that really makes you think: 42% were vocal about the problems in their companies. Speaking up, advocating for better user experiences, and caring deeply about their craft – these qualities, ironically, may have been the very reasons they were shown the door.

It's a tough reality to face, right? Having a voice and advocating for ethical design and great user experience – essentials of our craft – can sadly be risky business in the tech world.

If you're interested in exploring more about these statistics - read the full article by Matej.

How to Prepare for Layoffs as a Designer

In the unpredictable world of tech, layoffs can be an unwelcome surprise. While we can't always dodge them, we can certainly be more prepared. Here's my go-to list for staying ready and resilient:

How to Prepare for Layoffs as a Product Designer | Layoffs 2024 Prep Checklist | by | Kristina Volchek

✅ So, what should you do to feel safer?

  • Always-Ready Portfolio: Your portfolio is your story, your showcase. Keep it up-to-date and engaging – it’s your ticket to new opportunities.

  • Your Own Figma Space: If there's one investment that's worth every penny, it’s a personal Figma PRO account. It’s your personal design vault to safely store copies of your work and keep all those side projects neatly organized. Haven't got one yet? Trust me, it's time.

  • Side Hustles & Freelance Gigs: Think about picking up some freelance work or starting your own little projects. They will keep you afloat in case your main source of income is cut.

  • Network, Network, Network: The power of connections is real. Keep growing your network – you never know who might drop that perfect opportunity in your lap.

  • LinkedIn: Stay modestly active on LinkedIn, and keep it updated and professional. Engage with content, and respond to recruiters - what if they have something interesting?

  • Social Proof: Don’t hesitate to ask current or former colleagues for endorsements or recommendations. These are your proof.

  • Emergency Fund: It's not just a safety net; it’s your peace-of-mind fund. It gives you the freedom to take your time and choose your next steps wisely.

Preparation isn’t just about bracing for the tough times; it's about being ready for the next great opportunity.

And hey, I’ve put together a more detailed checklist in Notion – it’s my little Christmas gift to you. 🎁 It's packed with tips and tricks to keep you one step ahead. You can grab it for free from my Gumroad:

If you’ve been laid off already, here is an amazing guide by Ben George, Staff Product Designer at Shopify: Navigating a layoff as a product designer

Watch or listen

My favourite YouTube tutorials, movies, podcasts and reels this month.

🙀 Design Teams are Going to be Leaner

David drops an intriguing thought: Design teams might slim down because AI lets designers do more with less. Imagine handling a project with 10 designers instead of 50. But here's the twist – as some teams shrink, the overall demand for design will increase. Thanks to AI, more companies will jump into creating their software, opening up a world of new opportunities.

🤩 AI-Powered Dynamic Interfaces

Get ready for UI that not just looks good but also thinks smart. David talks about dynamic interfaces – personalised UIs that adapt in real time to user needs. And AI is about to boost this idea. A glimpse of what’s coming? Check out Arc Browser’s Boost Feature. It's a neat preview of a more personalized, reactive, and maybe even more accessible internet.

🚀 The Rise of the Design Founder & the Creator Economy

The future of work? It's looking way different, especially for designers. With AI maximising human abilities, the doors are wide open for side hustles and creating our economies. The recent tech layoffs have sparked a wave of designer-founded companies. Turns out, designers are natural founders – they’ve got the right skills & mindset for designing not just products, but whole teams and business processes.

🥶 Will Designers Code?

The big question: Will designers need to code? David thinks we'll be more involved in production codebases, but not in the way you might expect. No-code AI tools, like Framer, could let us contribute to coding without even realizing it. We're looking at a future where designers and developers work even more closely, sharing spaces and ideas – and it’s already starting, with features like Figma’s Dev Mode.

👩‍💻 Behind the Scenes: I’m available for freelance work starting January 2024

I updated my website, so you can find more details about what I have to offer. Click the link below to learn more.

If you have any project in mind - feel free to reply to this email.

That’s all for today! If you found the newsletter interesting, don’t forget to share it with your friends 😉. And if you have any cool links to share - drop them my way. 📮 

See you next time!

P.S. To ensure you don't miss any future editions, consider adding my email to your contacts, primary inbox or whitelisting it. I promise, no spam - just a good cup of Designer's Coffee each month! ☕

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