The State of Design — Swedish Edition 2019 by Design Leadership Sweden

Jens Wedin
20 min readOct 12, 2019

This is the result of the survey, The State of Design — Swedish Edition 2019.

This year the survey was in English for the first time so more people could answer (lots of english speaking designers work in Sweden).

The responses were collected during May and September 2019 and 415 people answered this year (hey, we got a record 🚀).

The State of Design 2020

👉🏾 The State of Design 2020 report is now out 👈🏾

Summary 2019

  • More companies are building their own design capability and starting to operationalize their design capability with more designers and design leaders. Are we seeing a a maturity of the discipline within the enterprises?
  • There are 4 themes where designers can bring value to the organization. The operational theme, the business theme, human theme and technology theme. What theme do you want work with to create an impact in your organization?
  • Ethics is a big one. Designers see what they bring to the table and believe that they can shape the future to something better.
  • There is still a mismatch of what value designers think they bring to the table and what the rest of the organization believes.
  • User centered design starts with empathy and meeting the users, customers and colleagues. Most companies understand this today and it is easier than ever to make this happen.
  • Designers will need business skills in the future. Start by teaming up with business people and product owners to create user centered roadmaps and OKRs that have the perspective customer, business and technology.
  • The salary gap between consulting companies and product/service companies seemed to have leveled out. Are consulting companies feeling the heat and have raised their salaries.
  • There is still a gap between salaries for men and women, let’s make 2020 the year where this is not an issue, ok?


First some demographic numbers so you will get a better picture of who answered the survey.

What is your gender ?

The numbers are about the same as previous years.


What is your age?

The largest group who answered the survey were between 26 and 45, same as previous year.


What is your design experience?

The largest groups who answered have worked with design for 2–8 years (There is typo in the survey between 1–2 years, this will be fixed to next year)

Design experience

What type of company do you work at?

Most people who answered work in product/service company or consulting. The trend seem to continue, more people work at product/service companies (+1%) and consulting going down (-5%). This year more people answer who have their own company/freelancing (+ 2%), is this because of a good economy in Sweden and more people gig’ing?

Type of company

What is your title?

Most people are using the title UX Designer who answered the survey (+4%). As we broaden the survey this year to include other type of designers like Service Designer, Manager, Director or Product Designer we also got some responses from these disciplines.

Last year more managers, head of… and design leads answered the survey (down this year from 21% to 15%). Design leadership is as natural part of the industry as it evolves but we cannot see this in the numbers right now. The highest level in the Swedish organizations seem to be on middle manager level or as a strategic head of… There is still no responses from VP or C level in Swedish companies, are they out there, please let me now.

This year we see more people calling themself Product Designer (+4%), a trend we are seeing in US. There seem to be lots of confusion of what a Product Design vs UX Designer vs Service Designer do, do you agree or not?

Title mania

Where do you work?

87% who answered work in the Swedens three largest cities, even though there is a spread in many other cities. More people answered from Stockholm this year, probably because of the survey in English as many large companies are based in Stockholm.

Other cities include: Lund, Karlstad, Kalmar, Karlskrona and some cities from abroad.


What school have you attended?

Most people have gone to school at Stockholm University (0%), Berghs (+1%), Linköping (-5%), Chalmers (-4%) or Umeå (+1%). There is a mix between traditional universities and more professional schools like Berghs, Hyper Island and Nackademin. It is interesting to see the big number of different schools people attend who call themself designers. Number in parentheses is compared to last year.

In the other bucket we found: Academy of Art University, San Francisco, Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara, Multimedia Art department, Applied Arts, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt, Beckmans College of Design, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Broby Grafiska Utbildning, Dalarna university, Designskolen Kolding, Denmark, Florida Atlantic University, Glasgow school of art, Halmstad University, HKR Kristianstad, Högskolan Dalarna, Högskolan i Gävle, Högskolan I Halmstad, Högskolan Kristianstad, Högskolan Väst, Jönköping University, Karlstads University, Kasetsart University, Konstfack, Kristianstad University, Linnaeus University, Linnéuniveristetet, LTH Lunds Tekniska Högskola, Luleå University, Lund University, Medieinstitutet YH Stockholm, Mälardalens Högskola, National university of Ireland, Galway, Politecnico di Torino, PUC — Rio, Rajamangala university of technology lanna, Singapore management university, Stockholms Folkhögskola, Thammasat, The Glasgow School of Art, TU Delft Netherlands / Universidad Iberoamericana Mexico, Universidad del Atlántico, Colombia, University of Otago, University of San Diego, University of Zagreb, Warwick Business School & Yrgo

What educational level did you go to?

This year most people answered who has a an Bachelor (up 1%) and Master (down 8%)

Educational level

How much do you think your education help you in your daily work?

Most people seem to think so. There is a movement from level 6 to 7. The average is slightly up from 6 to 6.5 in average compared from last year. How can we improve the design educations so that it really prepares students coming to work? We would love to discuss this with schools and companies.

From low to high, how helpful has your education been?

What is important for you right now?

This is a new question this year, just to get an understanding what trends and topics that influence and are important for designers and leaders. We feel hopeful when we see that ethics and inclusive design are so important. It’s also interesting to see that operational topics like design systems, lean/agile UX and designOps are getting traction, probably a trend because of more designers in enterprises and scaling of design. We can also note that design is moving up in the maturity ladder which makes design thinking and business design more important.

Other topics that was mentioned was: Behavioral Design, Blockchain UX, Brain and behavior science, Business analytics in design, Calm Design, Circular Design, Co-creation, Data Driven Design, Design Fiction, Design for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality,, Design Geometry, Design Leadership, Design Sprints, Designing for health, Embodiment, micro interaction and micro copy, Immersive design (VR/AR), Industry 4.0 and Future Mobility, Leadership , Less attention-grabbing design, Meta design, organizational design, product management, Privacy, Product Design, Robotics UX design, Scaling Design , Strategical UX, Sustainability, Sustainable Design, System Design, System Thinking, UX research, UX writing & WCAG

What do you love?

So what do designers love? Create a better future, meet people, solve problems, always learning new things, understanding needs and researching.

Here are some common words, including some quotes below.

The variation in my work and the exploring ways of solving a problem.

Figuring out the essence of the users intent.

It’s developing, creative, problem-solving and I get to meet and learn from people from very different skill sets.

So much! I love running workshops, sharing knowledge, developing processes, breaking down complicated tasks into steps, and collaborating with great people. I love doing things with words, and finally, in the last few years, my peers seem able to understand that words are design.

I always learn about human behaviors and social trends. Also, I meet very creative and like minded people.

I love to create graphical concepts and to design without any set guidelines. To get to know the customer and their audience to find out what will form the product/web or any other media.

Doing user research and getting surprised! And the colleagues are very empathic and friendly in this field

I love to face the challenges our customer have and I’m struggling with the it developers and it department to make a better customer experience. Help others to solve there problems and create new better solutions.

That I can use design thinking as a method to work with the business, technical, organisational AND product perspectives. So the holistic perspective.

Help saving lives

My Team

Learning new things — about users, about markets, about psychology ❤️

So what is less fun?

Most designers fight for about the same things. Respect, understanding & craft time. Designers often having to explain and convince other people in the organization about the work and value they bring. Designer often have to cope with lots of meetings, organizational bureaucracy and having hard time to meet the “real” customer.

Diplomacy and that business rules trumps user needs

Sometimes short deadlines, or slow pace in the beginning

The sad fact that for most of my colleagues, Design is “art” or usability related at the most.

We often get to come into a project too late, when we cannot affect the user experience as much.

Company management that does not see the longterm value of spending that extra time to really understand the need and to iteratively work on finding the best solution.

Clients from hell

Not getting the needed budget

When you work alone and deliver in waterfall way to the development team. When you feel excluded.

Lack of common understanding of how & what to deliver in a project

Bad coffe

Not being involved in the beginning of a project, just sprinkling som fairy dust at the end to make it “ux pretty”


Sitting by the computer

Fighting with product managers and back end developers who are convinced that they know that the customer wants to see this, and needs that feature, and we ux and visual designers just create a design mockup showing where to put all the stuff they want in the application.

User recruiting

Not having leadership — no one to coach me, no one really understanding UX. People still think it’s something you sprinkle — something magic

The culture and rigidity of public services.

What are good qualities as a designer?

So what makes a good designer? What do you need as as a designer to survive in the trenches and among people “who don’t get it”? Skills that often get mentioned are empathy, sensitivity, being a good listener, great at communication, humble and curious.

Adaptivity and open minded

Humbleness, discipline and willingness to learn and understand more

Being a good listener, having empathy for users, daring to try different ways to solve a problem.

The one that designs to support the intent of the user.

Good team member, attentive listener, asks questions, is not afraid of criticism.

An eye for seeing the details and the bigger picture at once. A great designer solves problems not just making stuff look good.

Giving a sh*t about people and being curious without assuming you’re entitled to know things about people. Caring about the consequences of our work. Accepting that we’re more likely to change the world through unintentional (or intentional) harm than through some app we made to make someone’s day slightly easier, and actively choosing to make less impact if it does less harm.

Kills their darlings

Adaptability, being able to understand all perspectives (user, business and tech). Understand the process (and how it changes depending on resources). Always representing the user perspective, being able to structure and facilitate the design process from discovery to implementation (and improvement). Understand and work with data is becoming more and more important.

Empathic and unpretentious

Someone who can take any problem, understand it and find solutions that work. That doesn’t put personal preferences in the way. And that isn’t afraid to argue for their solution and why it is the best approach. Making sure other people understand why you’ve done something in a certain way is very important.

Being pedagogical

Humility, curiosity and grit

How often do you meet your users or customers?

It is fantastic that 54% (down 2%) of designers meet their customers and users once a month or more. We would say that meeting your customers is vital when you work with human centered design. And for you who isn’t allowed, cant’t get financing or don’t have the mandate, use this survey to show how other companies do it. It is not rocket science and quite cheap, just do it 💪

How often do you meet your customers?

How do you learn new things?

Most of designers learn by reading online, through colleagues and friends and working in interesting projects and going to conferences. Only about 48% read work related books and only 33% attend training.

What work related book have you read recently?

I’m still surprised that Jeffs and Joshs Lean UX is still number one book to read (same as last year). This year is Sprint and Don’t make me think are popular again. New for this year is This is Service Design Doing. We also see Inte så jävla krångligt!, Creativity Inc., Hooked, The Design of Everyday Things, Nudge, Thinking Fast and Slow, Outcomes Over Output, Building better products, About Face & Design Systems. Great books everyone should read.

Popular books

Which design conferences are the best?

So where do designers go to learn new things, network and have fun? From Business to Buttons and are most popular in Sweden together with UX Open (closed this year), IXDA, Service Design Global Conference, Conversion Jam and UXLX.

In the other bucket you can find: STHLM Xperience Conference, NN/g UX Conference, The Gather Festival, Euro IA, Design Matters, Design Thinking Conference & Awwwards

What maturity level do you think design is in your organization?

These numbers are a bit hard to interpret. The study show there is a movement to the left (which is sad). There is an increase in the Invested and Committed level and decrease in the Engaged and Embedded levels. If you look at the trends from 2015 we can see a decrease in Embedded from year to year. How might we change this trend?

2019 (green) vs 2018 (blue)


Where do you work?

Most people still work from the office or customer office. The co-working space is up (3%), could this be because more people are freelancing?

Often at the office or at the clients office

How do you often work?

Working in a cross function team seem to be norm these days even if some are still working with their design team. There are some small changes from last year.

Working in cross functional teams is the norm

Where is design located in your organization?

Design is often located in the IT organization (up 3%), R&D (down 2%), Digital channels (down 12%) or Marketing (down 6%). It is interesting to see that most designers are still under the tech organization. We would love to see more designers embedded in the product functions or under their own design organization (where R&D, marketing, communication and product/service design can live together). Are there more organizations starting to organize themself around the customer journey or value streams?

When people answer Not relevant is often because they work in an agency or are consulting.

Where is design in the organization?

What kind of work?

The question was, what kind of work do you do as a designer, is it only solutions, wireframes and visual design or is it to understand the problem and be part of the whole process (where 0 is only solution and 5 is whole process)?

It’s nice to see that most designers are part of both the problem and solution space and are able to work in the whole process. If you are not, show these numbers to your manager and explain what you need. The average is up from 3.9 to 4.0 this year which is great.

What are common tasks & methods in your daily work?

UX & Service Design is really a broad area. Designing solutions is a number one activity. It is nice to see that qualitative research is done by about 73% and that many do some kind of customer journey work (50%) and even explorative research (50%). Facilitating is also something that we believe designer need as a skill.

Typical tasks

Common methods

What are your tools and programs?

It is really nice to see that paper/whiteboard and pen is the number one tool for designers, who could have know. It was also a surprise that Powerpoint & Keynote is such a common tool. Sketch has really taken off (except in the enterprise organisations where Mac is still not allowed…). Nice to see that Google Analytics is also a design tool, more quantitative data for the designers!

What process, method or tool would you recommend to other designers and why?

Here are some responses from the open ended question about process, methods and tools.

  • Empathy map & customer journeys
  • Double diamond process for general design process
  • Impact mapping and running your projects through sprints
  • Design Sprint
  • User decision path
  • Dual track scrum
  • Design thinking. It’s applicable on almost everything.
  • Figma — it’s amazing for collaborating on design, transparent, and super flexible
  • Check-ins
  • Design Studio

Do you have ownership of the design questions in your organization?

The average has gone down this year from 6.8 to 6.6 (7.56 in 2017), an all time low. It would be really interesting to see why this is happening of what have changed. Come on everyone, fight!


Design Ownership 2019

Is is clear in your organization who is responsible for design?

It’s nice to see that 72% (up 4% from last year) answer that it is clear who is responsible for the design. Who should be responsible for design in the organization, would you say?

Is there a clear design process in your organization?

The study shows that 28% of people who answered say the don’t have design process or is not used. On the other side 67% answer that they have a design process which is used in various degrees. A design process is a good way to measure the maturity of design.

A mature design process

Are you actively looking for a new position?

20% of the respondents say that they are looking for a new position, which is the same as last year. What is your your next move?

New job?

Where do you look for job?

LinkedIn (up 4%) is till the most popular place to look for new positions. After that comes colleagues & friends.

Why are people looking for new positions?

Here are some common things that make designers want to leave their job. This is a great list for leaders and managers to make use of when hiring, doing one-on-one coaching or team building exercises.

  • The organization do not want to work in a user centered way
  • Often have to explain the design role and what value we create
  • Boring projects
  • The working environment do not support design work
  • No challenges
  • Bad leadership
  • Want a better salary
  • A more flexible working situation
  • Want to work closer to home
  • Want (more) design colleagues
  • Develop and learn new things
  • Consulting is no fun
  • Want to work abroad
  • More saying, influence & responsibility
  • Less administration
  • Another type of culture
  • Create more customer value
  • Work with non digital touch points
  • Bad colleagues or dysfunctional team
  • Less waterfall and more agile and teams
  • Tired and slow organization
  • Want a new design role, like UX lead
  • Want another type of role, like product owner
  • Work for my own
  • Parental leave
  • Resigned

Salary statistics in Sweden 2019

First some information about the data (the disclaimer). Be careful to draw too certain conclusions, use this data as a starting point and remember, the salary is just one part of the job. This year I’ve added some more questions about perks and working hours to get a bigger picture this year.

This year we changed the salary from average to median because people with really high/low salaries skew the data. The numbers will be a bit more realistic but lower compared to last years (so we removed comparison from previous years because they don’t match).

For you who do not live in in Sweden, 1 Swedish Krona (SEK) equals about 0.1 U.S. dollars or 0.1 Euros. In Sweden, salary is often written per month and before income tax (the income tax in Sweden is roughly around 32–57%, see more about our tax system in Sweden). Average salary in Sweden 2018 was 34.600 SEK (3.575 USD) according to SCB.

360 of 415 answered the question about salary this year. 127 of 415 answered the questions about hourly price rate. The question about monthly salary has a fixed range of salary from 5.000 to 150.000 SEK before tax in the survey. The hourly price rate had a fixed range from 100 to 3000 SEK excl tax.

  • 32 people answered that they have a salary of 60.000 or above
  • 308 people answered that they have salary between 30–60.000
  • 22 answered they had a salary of 30.000 or below
  • Median salary for all responses (360 responses): 42.000
  • Median salary for women (176 responses): 40.000
  • Median salary for men (184 responses): 43.000

Median salary per gender

Median salary per gender

Median salary distribution

As you can see, the salary range is most common between 30–60.000 (the 4 largest groups)

Description: The number above the bar is how many answered per group and the median salary within that group, for example 87 women had a median salary of 38.000 (within that group)

Median salary distribution per group and gender

Bigger city, bigger paycheck. Here is the median salary per city. We grouped smaller cities together as there too few data points. As previous years, the salary is higher in bigger cities with a big jump to Stockholm.

  • Smaller cities 39.000 (48 responses from all around Sweden)
  • The Göteborg region 39.500 (48 responses)
  • The Malmö region 40.500 (23 responses)
  • The Stockholm region 44.000 (291 responses)
Median salary per city

Median salary vs design experience

This is the median salary vs design experience. As you can see, the longer you work the better salary you get, no magic here.

Description: Blue is women and red is men. The numbers above the graph is the median salary and how many is in the group. For example, the median salary from women with 9–12 years experience is 42.000 and 25 women answered.

Median salary per design experience

Median salary vs life experience (age)

The more experience (age) you have the higher salary you get. Experience matters.

Median salary vs age

Median salary vs type of company

Here are the numbers for different types of companies and organizations. The biggest difference between gender are at agencies and government agencies/municipals.

This year product companies and consulting companies are on about the same level, previous years product companies had higher salary, are we seeing a new trend?

Median salary vs company type

Median salary vs size of company

Here are the median salary vs size of organization. In general, the larger the organization is the better salary you get. The explanation for this could be that the larger the company is the more strategic design and design leadership is needed (which have a larger salary).

Median salary vs size of company

Median salary vs design level

We have grouped different titles into different groups. To not make too complicated we created four different groups, Designer, Senior Designer, Design Leader. This one kind of hard as there is no good rules on what makes you a senior. You can see a difference between working as a designer or design leader.

  • Designer: UX Designer, Service Designer, Visual Designer & AD etc.
  • Senior Designer: Lead Designer, UX Lead, UX Architect etc.
  • Design Leader: Manager, CXO, Head of Design, Design Director etc.
Median salary vs design level

Median hourly rate as consultant or working in an agency

Consultants or freelancers often have an hourly rate (excl. tax means that the price does not include VAT). There is still a wide range in the price, from 100(!) to 2200(!) with an average of 1.100 excl tax (men 1.100 and women 1.000)

Median hourly rate

The hourly rate do do change that much depending on design experience. It should, we would say.

How many hours is a normal workweek stated in you contract?

A normal work week in Sweden is 40 hours which shows in the numbers. Nice to see that some work less.

How often do you need to work more than stated in you contract?

Here are some interesting numbers, there is still lots of people working overtime. It’s terrible that 27% of designers work overtime quite often. Why is that?

Designers work overtime

What other perks do you have at your job?

Here are some the most common perks for designers. We would say that working as a designer in Sweden is quite nice from this point of view. In Sweden, most companies let you have flexible working hours, a paid pension plan and a paid 5 weeks vacation or more. This is quite different from other countries.

Thanks to

  • To everyone who has answered, shared and liked the survey
  • and all photographers for photos
  • Tableau public for free data analytics

Next year

Please leave your name and email if you are interested in being part of next years survey.

Please join Design Leadership Sweden

👉🏾The survey is now part of the non-profit community Design Leadership Sweden (please join our free community)👈🏾

Previous years

Here are the result from 2018 (eng), 2017 (swe), 2016 (swe) & 2015 (swe).


Please have look at the data and numbers, if you have any feedback and questions, let me know at



Jens Wedin

Design + Coaching + Transformation + Leadership @ Seventyone Consulting // Mostly in English //