Five years really isn't that long if you're serious about building something.
If you really think about it you realize how weird even just asking that question really is. People used to look forward to joining a company and spending their whole career there moving through the ranks, and now even five years seems too long?
Damn us millennials…
Indeed. It's constantly shifting, which is why I was curious to take a dip test today, see where peoples heads are at...
That's true, but at the same time, it'd be rare historically to think of a situation where you'd spend 5 years designing the same product. Even if you're working in the same problem space, you'd be working on different products or product lines - whether that's designing houses, software or hardware.
Also, as a field I think design really benefits from having practitioners who work across multiple industries and problem spaces. A common issue I've seen arise in banking is the that you can get a lot of designers who've only ever designed banking products - they can end up with a very constrained approach. Similar for health and other enterprises.
You can get the opposite issue with designers working in consumer areas - they don't necessarily get the experience of designing within heavy constraints.
Of course, working only on short term projects isn't great either, you can end up without an understanding of the reality of shipping product.
I also like to use Career → Relationship analogies in those cases.
To me this is the equivalent of:
"What would you say to the opportunity of being with the same partner for 5 years?".
Uh… so many variables need to be clarified: 1. Does it seem like an interesting situation for you? 2. Do you see space for growth? 3. Is the timing in your life good? 4. Is "commitment" what you're looking for right now? 5. etc etc
It all comes down to self-awareness.
Assuming you have great self-awareness: just go with the flow and explore iteratively. ;-)
The goal isn't to stay at a place for X years. It's to be fulfilled by what you do.
"On your death bed, you’ll realize that your real resume won't be on Linkedin, it will be three short lists: 1) the challenges that taught you something 2) ways you found to help other people 3) interesting things that you will have tried despite being out of your comfort zone. The rest barely matters."
I like working with small teams on difficult problems for a very long period of time. I’m well beyond 10 years on a few things we’ve made, and it’s been an amazing experience — I have to deal with my early mistakes frequent basis, but I also get to fix and refine them.
If I was forced to change job, I’d pick another similar situation.
Edit: For some background, I’ve also worked freelance, and with agencies, and with medium sized product teams. I really enjoy being part of a small team, where the only way for things to get done is to learn new skills.
I never stayed at a company for more than 2.5 years, the thought of working more than 5 years for the same company/product scares me, it just sounds boring. But it really depends, I left some companies because I wanted to try something different. I left others because I clearly wasn't learning anything anymore. Now that I've done my experience, and I know what I care about, if the product is a really good product and the team is great I'd be more than happy to stay as long as possible. Now a different thing is happening to me: I'm in my 'I want to help the planet' phase, and my criteria to define what's an interesting job opportunity have slightly shifted. I need a good team, a good product, a clear growth path but also a sense of purpose. I need to know I'm not just making rich people richer. Work in progress.
Not really sure what the question is asking, to be honest. There are too many variables to consider within such a broad question. What do I say to it? Both. Either/or. It doesn't really matter as long as I believe in the product, and whether it requires continuing to iterate and improve it, or working on other connected products.
Results are in. 52% were happy to work on a single product for a longer period of time. The rest where pretty evenly split between not liking the idea and being unsure. Intend to write blog post about this, I find it very interesting, especially as I'm recruiting a lot at the moment.
For one I'm very happy to see that majority Product Designers seem to relish the opportunity to iterate and improve a product (assuming there's enough interesting work to hold your attention).
Thanks everyone for your participation
I interview a lot of designers stuck in agencies that just aren’t able to do research or usability benchmarking with enough depth to build truly useful designs the way a startup product designer does. Moving around a lot is okay, but I found it kind of limiting.
Also at the end of the day it’s all work. You’ll get bored and want growth no matter the role.
I used to do agency and random work earlier on, which is obviously great experience. Later in my career I've found a lot of joy in refining and polishing a single product. Both have pros and cons, so I think it's just a personal choice.
Making "timeless" design decisions that last half a decade are really really hard. I'm 2.5 years into my current role and I'm structuring my design decisions around long term value so we'll see how it goes :)
Honestly, I see the team/culture/working environment dimension as being a lot more important than whatever the product or variety of products might be. So I'd hang my answer on that. And you really can't know either going into it. If the team and culture seem cool, I'd be willing to give it a shot.
Want to know where people stand on the 'Grow/iterate one thing' – 'move around and work on a wide variety' spectrum. I'll post the results back here.