How to survive a global recession as a UI/UX designer

Vasil Nedelchev
3 min readJun 8, 2022


scared eyes with trending down graph

So that’s coming …

You had better prepare for it if you don’t want to end up unpleasantly surprised by your clients or employer. If you do so, you can turn this into an opportunity instead of a survival situation.

Sadly, most of us don’t even know a global recession is coming or even if we do, we don’t know what to do. So, we sit around and hope for the best.

What can you do? You are just a designer after all.

You don’t even watch the news, that’s poison. And this is economics and business stuff and the suits should take care of that.

You can’t let someone else make decisions for your future. You don’t need to be an expert economist to prepare for what’s coming.

Here is what happened during the last recession and how to prepare for it.

Investors get conservative

They start looking to cut their losses early and invest only in startups that already make money.

So, if you are working for a startup that is looking to raise money, but doesn’t yet have real paying customers, don’t sleep on it. Start prepping your portfolio — you might need to look for a new gig soon.

Tech hiring freeze

Tech companies stop looking to hire new talent full time.

Big companies, like Meta and Coinbase, already did that and others will follow, as usual. So if you are looking for a full-time gig and have a generalist skill set, next year might be hard.

On the flip side, this opens up opportunities for contract work and consulting if you have a niche skill set or know-how.

Consumers will stop spending

The end consumer will stop spending on nice-to-have products and services.

If you are working for companies that make non-essential products and services for the consumer market, they might start laying off people. Especially if they have big teams that have multiple people with the same skill set.

If you are in that position, make yourself useful before is too late. If you do low-value work fixing small things here and there, be proactive and find something that will save time or make money.

For example, create a UI kit with reusable components, so your team can ship new features faster. Or improve the conversion rate of the onboarding flow.

Business essential products will thrive

Software companies that allow others to run their businesses more effectively and replace people with automation, will have the most work.

These are the unsexy products that very few designers dream will work, like enterprise, workforce or infrastructure software. Those are the companies that will not slow down on hiring.

So, if you have worked on this type of project and don’t show them in your portfolio, maybe now is a good time if you look for contract work.

Project-based work will be in demand

Companies and agencies will look to hire niche specialists on a project-by-project basis.

Now, more than ever, being a niche UI/UX designer will help you stand out among the endless scroll of designers that compete on price.

You need to make sure whatever you are offering has clear business value, by doing the following:

  • De-risking big spending decisions by prototyping and experiments.
  • Facilitating workshops to uncover new revenue opportunities.
  • Turning random users into paying customers with CRO.
  • Providing deep industry insight through research.
  • Creating a design system to ship faster.

Be mindful of all of those things and you will survive even the ugliest global recession. Or, as they say in crypto land, WAGMI — “We are all gonna make it.”

Originally published at on June 8, 2022.



Vasil Nedelchev

Product Designer. Writing about design beyond your day job. Get all my writing at