Okay. The tough part is over. You have a great product idea, and it is perfected. You have figured out your business branding strategy, your financial model and target market and how you are going to market that product all over cyberspace.
You are ready for startup. Your next step is to launch your app and website. Wait…a website? An app? You’re an entrepreneur. You may have zero ideas about product design.
But, based upon your own user experiences on the web, you know how important great design is. You have personally bounced from apps that load too slowly, that are not visually appealing and that do not give you a seamless experience.
Obviously, you don’t want that to happen with your product. And you do have options here:
Door Number One: Lots of friends will tell you how they know of entrepreneurs who have created their own websites and apps and had them up and running in half a day – complete with menus, page links, text/content, images, and even a shopping cart.
But when you begin to ask the deeper questions, like is it responsive for iPhone and Android access, and what tools are best to use, they become strangely silent.
You do a little research and realize that not only you do not understand the basics of app design, but you also haven’t got a clue about coding. And then you start seriously thinking about option two.
Door Number Two: If you are not an experienced designer, you know you are going to need outside expertise. It’s not just a question of time – it’s about getting the product that will work, that is appealing, and that will give your customers the best experience ever when they visit, consider what you offer, and hopefully make some purchasing/upgrade decisions.
This option is obvious, but now the task of figuring out how to go about hiring the right person(s).
How to Hire UX Designers
First Things First
If you’ve read up on website/app design at all, you have heard these terms batted around, but you really do not understand the difference between UX and UI design. Do you need both, or can one person do it all?
Here’s the thing: Web design has evolved and people who call themselves designers and developers are usually more specialized. They have great skills in some areas, but only average/mediocre skills in others.
So, while you might want to find that unicorn who can do it all, you will end up with less than you really want.
There are actually three categories of UX and UI design today:
- User Researchers: Titles might include UX strategist, tester, or engineer. In short, this individual listens to you to understand who your customer is and how their needs can best be met through design.
- The Architect: Often called a UX designer or an Information designer. This pro has to figure out the structure and the flow of things as a user navigates through your app.
- The Visual Designer: This is the UI designer. Their task is to make sure that the “look” and “feel” of your product is exceptional.
All three may have a bit of graphic designer in their blood and all three are developers of sorts, but their tasks are specific and they must then work in collaboration to build a custom product based on your specifications.
And don’t forget that when you look for individual UX designers for hire, you have to make sure that they can further collaborate with the developers you’ll hire to code your product.
It’s probably obvious to you now that you really need a design team, not a unicorn, or two/three individuals that you hire separately who have never worked together before.
So, let’s get down to the basics of how you go about hiring a design firm that has all of the specialists who already work together.
Step-By-Step – Question by Question
Given that you are hiring expertise that you know little about, you can begin with a little research. Talk to some user experience designers who operate as individuals. Get the details of their tasks, their pricing, etc.
You can do the same with UI designers for hire as individuals. Another research you may want to do is to determine where in the world the best design firms are generally located, and which ones will fit your budget constraints.
Okay, so you found some promising prospects. Now, to narrow down the choices, start asking them the next questions:
Question 1: What Are the Core Services Offered?
Some firms do everything from initial design to marketing. You have to decide in advance what you want, but in general, for a great UX and UI design and a mobile app, you need to know that:
- They have experience with custom web designs and a UX researcher to perform those key functions of listening to you and understanding your customer’s needs from a design standpoint.
- They can develop mobile apps that will be consistent in theme with the marketing platforms you plan to use.
- They can develop either a web app or a native app, depending on what you need/want. A mobile banking app is far different from a taxi app or a travel app. One app may be designed based upon an existing website or in conjunction with a site development. Another app may be standalone and require more hours for developing the initial wireframes.
Question 2: What is the Size of the Company
Here your concern is as follows: if there is only one team of UX and UI designers, might there be delays if they take on too much work at one time? Or, if they are a large firm, will your smaller project get lost in all of the bureaucracy? Or will you not get the personal service you want?
- Do they typically work on projects that are similar in size to yours?
- If they are large, do they have several different teams for projects of various scopes?
- Is there one person who will be your “go to” individual to run all interference for you – someone you can contact directly and who is available when you are (time zones!)
- Will you get the same team should you need maintenance, editing or growth phases?
If collaborating with a remote team sounds new to you – check out this guide on how to establish effective communication funnel from day one.
Question 3: What are Their Qualifications/Credentials?
Here you need to determine if this firm is respected in the industry and has credibility.
- You can check their ratings and reviews on Clutch.co.
- Review their portfolio and have a closer look at the products they’ve previously created. Have they been featured in well-known and respected publications? What are the reviews from the users?
- Do they have projects under their belts that are considered especially exciting, unique or groundbreaking?
Question 4: What is the Track Record?
Now, you’re getting into the details of clients and satisfaction.
- What is the diversity of the clients they have worked with? If you want a social networking mobile iOS app and all of the firm’s clients have been in the banking and finance industry, do you really want to be the first guinea pig in your niche?
- What kinds of results are clients reporting? There will certainly be testimonials on the site, but you want to speak with a couple of clients directly. A solid company will be happy to provide you contact information for a reference or two.
- Ask those one or two clients what their ROI has been? Or if the firm has hard figures published on its site, verify those with the client.
Question 5: Can You Visit or Take a Virtual Tour?
You need to have a face-to-face encounter with the firm and with the people who will be working on your project. It is very likely that you may be outsourcing this project across the country or the world. Based upon your research and budget, you may be in California and the design firm in the Ukraine (Eastern Europe is gaining a reputation for providing high quality IT for reasonable pricing). Here is what you can learn:
- Do they have a permanent staff or are they relying on freelancers to do the design work?
- When you talk with the staff members, do you get the impression that they are skilled, have passion and enthusiasm for what they do and relate well to one another? This is more of a sensing or a vibe, but make sure you have a good feeling about the people.
Question 6: How Will the Project Be Executed from Start to Finish?
A legitimate company will be licensed to do business where they are located. Ask for that documentation. Further, they will put the all detailed arrangements with their clients in a written contract. That contract should include all of the following:
- The methods by which communication will occur as the project progresses.
- Benchmarks for review and approval with clear timelines
- Detailed description of the project tasks and who will complete them
- Cost and payment methods
- Your right to review and request revisions without additional cost as long as these revisions are within the context of the determined project scope
- Your ownership of the finished product
- Guarantee of full testing and quality assurance (if that was part of the initial deal)
- Post-delivery support parameters (modifications, debugging, etc.)
Question 7: How Will They Assign/Staff Your Project?
To build a successful app, there should be a project manager who, with the team sets objectives for your project, delegates the tasks correctly, and keeps you in the loop at all times. There need to be those four individuals mentioned above – the researcher, the architect, the visual UI designer, and a quality assurance/testing pro. So:
- How many people will be working on your project and are all of the specialty skills covered?
- Who will take primary responsibility for the project? This should be your “go-to” person.
- What is the schedule of updates and how will the communication process occur?
- Will they be pro-active, making suggestions and taking initiative or are they going to rely on you to direct their tasks?
Question 8: How Does the Firm Price Its Services?
So how much does it cost to hire a designer firm that will meet your needs? Of course, you have a budget, and if you have done some solid research, you have compared pricing.
In that comparison, you will see that most firms charge by the hour, as opposed to the overall project. Obviously, you will have to ask important questions:
- Is the pricing based upon the overall project or hourly rate?
- Given the information you have provided, can they estimate a total number of hours and average cost per hour (a project manager, for example, may be priced at more per hour than the visual designer)? If they have a lot of similar projects under their belts, they should be able to provide a pretty accurate estimate.
- What is the procedure for billing, and do they bill in increments?
- Do they provide a regular reporting of hours at specified intervals during the process?
Do not be fooled into thinking that the priciest firm is necessarily the best one for you. Many of the expensive firms have been around longer and have a long list of well-known clients. If you find a firm with happy clients that have been in business for at least five years and you have been able to verify their work and client satisfaction, you should seriously consider them. If you have “met” the team and feel good about them, that’s another good reason for hiring them!
Getting a design that will give your users a “killer” experience is the name of the game these days. There’s a lot of competition in your niche, and consumers want an intuitive, seamless, and appealing experience based on the latest proven principles of UX/UI design.
UX and UI design is one of the Alty’s strongest sides as noted by the former clients and millions of satisfied product users. You can learn more about our design services or get in touch for a quick chat using the contact form below!