Questions To Ask When Hiring A UX Designer
We outline 5 characteristics of a trustworthy UX design team, and offer guidance on what questions to ask a UX designer when hiring a firm. (Updated November 2019).
Just like with software development, when it comes to figuring out how to hire a UX designer or firm, there are a lot of facets to consider. With so many companies boasting so many similar skills and capabilities, it can be hard to know which to pick — and more importantly, whom you can trust.
One of the best ways to vet a design firm is by asking questions at the start. What they say – and the way they say it – will reveal a lot about that potential partner and whether or not you want to work with them. There are many questions to ask a UX designer during the selection phase, all of which align with some of the positive characteristics of a trustworthy team.
The Characteristics of a UX Design Team You Can Trust
Good UX design relies on effective communication between you and your designers. Great UX design relies on challenging assumptions, understanding business goals, and being able to think critically. In other words: ongoing conversation about product goals and user needs is crucial to creating beautiful, functional, results-oriented digital products that provide accelerated business value.
There are some common traits of the best design teams, which you should look for when deciding how to hire a UX designer to tackle your project. The best way to recognize a top-notch UX design team that can help get you where you need to go is by asking questions. The questions asked to a potential designer will help determine whether they possess the characteristics you’re looking for.
What To Look For When Hiring UX Design Partners
Characteristic 1: They equip you with validated user research and testing so that you know you’re building the right product for the right people.
It’s important to ask the designers questions about their approach to user research. What methods do they employ? How much time and budget do they allocate for user research? Is research built into the initial proposal they share with you?
Characteristic 2: They actively listen.
A good partner is one who is just that — a partner. In order to collaborate effectively and work together towards your goals, your design team needs to be able to not only share their expertise but also listen to you.
Characteristic 3: They ask questions: “what if” and “how might we” type questions so that the focus stays solution-based.
We’ve previously written about the importance of a development team asking questions, and the same can be said for a design team. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential UX designers tough questions, and see if they quickly provide you with answers and move on, or if they meet your questions with equally-challenging questions of their own.
Characteristic 4: They have a results-oriented design portfolio. Looks aren’t everything – great UX translates to business growth and happy customers.
Ask for references from past clients, whom you may contact to learn more about their experience with the firm. Also ask for information beyond the surface, such as metrics on how the business benefited and success (or failure) of past projects when the company took the product to market.
Characteristic 5: They understand your business goals and align them to user needs. For example, we use “project principles” to help guide critical decision-making.
Ask the firm to relay your business goals back to you. Do they have a firm grasp on your goals? Can they make a connection between your goals and the end user experience? You can ask logistical questions, too. How do they budget? How do they handle estimations? All of these things will help ensure alignment upfront.
What to Avoid When Deciding How to Hire a UX Design Firm
There are a few red flags to look out for when identifying a team that will fail to guide conversations in the direction you need to go. While knowing the questions to ask a designer will help you avoid this situation, we wanted to look at a “worst case scenario” to illustrate what you may want to avoid.
If a UX team or design firm does any of the following, they likely will not be an ideal partner.
- They skip the initial stages of defining user roles and user scenarios.
- They do not provide confident opinions based on an extensive portfolio of past work.
- They say “yes” to everything you say at each stage of the checkpoint process.
- They allow checkpoints to become more about the deliverables than mining for insights to guide future development.
- They fail to warn you about potential pitfalls in the design.
- They do not actively listen to your concerns, and instead breeze through conversations to move along with the direction they had in mind.
- They do not manage conversations in a way that keeps the focus on product goals and the user.
- They do not think critically about when it’s okay to compromise on industry standards for the sake of your product goals. Instead, they rigidly defend UX “best practice” at the expense of getting the job done.
Are you actively trying to figure out how to hire a great UX designer or firm to address a problem or expand on an idea? Schedule a free consultation with our design team and we will walk you through the process personally.