If you're running a startup, you might have faced the problem of gathering the right people around your idea. What’s more, you don't just need a designer or a developer. You need a Swiss Army Man. The initial hires on your team are often all-in-one people, and it's hard to find them. So today, I'll talk specifically about designers or, to be more specific, about UX designers.
Finding a good UX designer isn’t done in days. This person will be responsible for the users' satisfaction with your future product, and you should hire UX designers wisely. In this article, I'll dive into the hiring process, share tips on how to detect a really good professional, and explain why going through portfolios is not enough.
Why Consider UX Designer For Your Startup?
User research is at the crux of the design process. And a UX designer is exactly that person who deals with it. UX designer figures out who you're designing for, analyzes users' scenarios, creates a product's logic, and conducts A/B tests. Generally speaking, a UX designer makes your product intuitive, valuable, and beautiful to users.
What's more, hiring a UX designer benefits not only the end customers but also your business.
UX designers make users come back.
21% of users abandon an app after one use. Building user flow, researching how the app should look to attract customers, and making an engaging and nice user experience rest upon the designer's shoulders. People will not even stick around the app if they have a bad user experience. As a person who owns a business and invests lots of money in it, it'll be hard to see the customers drop out after the first interaction, and all your money burns. Hiring a good UX designer saves you from such a nighmare.
UX designers give you a competitive advantage.
If you look at DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub – they all serve the same purpose – deliver food right to your doorstep. But for some reason, Uber Eats has 66 million annual users, which is twice more than GrubHub, and three times more than DoorDash. One of the reasons why people choose Uber Eats is the excellent experience they have in the app. And all credits go to UX and UI designers.
UX designers create data-driven design.
Imagine an app that you've designed based on your assumptions and experience. It'll probably look like a children's painting. It makes sense but only for you. UX designers' job is to convert all the assumptions into hypotheses and test them. There are many ways to test design hypotheses, and getting data from users is the one. So, by hiring UX designers, you make your app design data-driven.
What You Need to Know Before Hiring UX Designer
Honestly, there's no case when you don't need to hire a UX designer. And the interview process is the first contact point between you and a candidate. It'll be a mistake to think that the candidate is the only one who has to be prepared. Here is the list of topics you should think of to make the interview more effective.
Honestly, there's no case when you don't need a UX designer.
First things first. A brief mention about the project is never enough, but the key things to mention are:
- What your product is about;
- What problems it solves;
- Who the target customers are;
- What the business goals are;
- The stage of the product development;
Why does it matter? The designer's focus depends on these details. For example, if the product's goal sounds like: We need to keep users engaged, the UX designer should put all the effort into researching how to raise engagement rate.
After sharing the core, you can shift specifically to the design part. If you just launched a startup without existing products, describe how you see the product’s features, what big players inspire you, what your absolute no's are.
If the product is already on the market, share what doesn't work for the users. What should be changed, what you've tried and it didn't work. Put everything on the table.
Scope of Work
One of the things that interests designers is "What will my responsibilities be?" Framing the scope is one of the most valuable things you can do for a candidate. Not only will it mitigate the uncertainties, but it allows creativity to flourish once you've shaped the scope.
Hiring a UX designer doesn't always mean having this person sitting next to you in the office. Outsourcing is a great option, especially for startups. It allows you to reduce costs and avoid the mess with the hiring process. The last thing left is the cooperation model. You have several options: outsource the design team, outstaff a separate specialist, hire a freelancer. Here’s a detailed guide to outsourcing if you want to dig deeper.
3 Tips to Hire Good UX Designers
I've been working with startup founders for 7 years now and noticed that the interviewing process often appears to be a problem. So, I've distilled the top 3 tips that help you find a good professional.
Focus on the Experience not Portfolio
To create a world-class product, UX designers have to be experienced. The more hours a candidate spent on researching, interviewing, testing, surveying – the better. The portfolio will give you an idea of the projects a designer worked on and a design taste, but it's meaningless if you want to check the UX skills.
So focus on the experience, not the portfolio. No matter how astonishing it is.
Check the Candidates’ Mindset
This one is on top of everything. Why? Because I saw many projects that have failed because of mismatched vision. At the same time, I can name you a dozen that flourished because people shared the same goals.
But how can I check the mindset, you may ask. It's hard, and I'd advise you to pay attention to the following things:
- If a person asks about your project's goals, success criteria;
- If a person suggests solutions not just points the problems;
- Ask about the candidate's professional path;
I remember the case with our client from the scheduling software industry. Together with a Designer Lead, I attended the introduction meeting. When we started to ask about the product's goals and vision, existing design issues, how they tried to solve them – the client was amazed. And when things came to an agreement, the client shared that our approach, curiosity, and dedication were the things that impressed them. We couldn't be more proud.
So check the mindset and ensure it matches yours.
Ask About Your Product
And the cherry on top is to ask how a person sees your product. A UX designer who has a vision of your product, suggests ideas, and shares possible solutions is the person you should listen to carefully. People can be good at telling about their previous experience but suggesting the improvements for a future product is much more valuable.
So challenge your candidates and ask how they see your product.
Where to Find UX Designers?
It's much harder to hire a good UX designer if you only hope for miracles or Facebook and LinkedIn. There are many more places where you can search for designers specifically, and here are three of the best.
Dribbble is a social networking platform for designers and creatives. It's all about visuals and UX&UI design ideas. As I mentioned at the beginning, sometimes a UX designer should be a Swiss Army Man. So you may need to hire a UX designer with UI skills and Dribbble is the way to go.
Unlike Dribbble, on Behance, designers publish real cases. So it's like a designer's portfolio. You can check the projects' types, industries, and even the design flow.
Clutch is a bit different. It's a rating platform for leading IT companies. It gives you a helicopter view of the company, not a specific designer. And I highly recommend checking it as it builds trust between you and a prospective partner. You can read reviews from previous clients, see what projects the company has worked on. There're lots of valuable things.
If you're looking for a UX designer on a freelance basis, Upwork is the best platform. You get flexible access to quality talent on demand very fast, and it's cost-effective.
Interview Questions To Ask UX Designer
Now, as you know what to check while hiring a UX designer, let's put it to practice. Here's a rundown of questions that help you study all of the above and choose the strongest candidate.
8 Questions To Ask UX Designer At The Interview
- Please, tell me what projects you have worked on. What did you like about them?
- Please, share what your responsibilities were on the previous projects:
- How your tasks look like;
- How you solve them;
- Have you organized brainstorms? If yes, share the process;
- Have you facilitated meetings? If yes, please share how you did it;
- Please, share how you usually do the research part;
- Have you collaborated with developers, project team? If yes, please, specify how your collaboration looked like.
- Please, describe your design process.
Be specific, describe the steps you take, how you choose between several options, and why, how do you present it to the client/team?
- What tasks were the most interesting for you and why?
- What do you love about your job?
- What do you expect from working on this project?
- Take a look at the product and share what you will do differently and why?
- Imagine that you have to create a product X for the audience Y. Please name at least 3 hypotheses you'd validate, and how will you do it?
Note that questions 7 and 8 are the test task questions, so don’t forget to give more context. Of course, there's no cookie-cutter fit, but a successful candidate should answer satisfactorily most of the questions.
A good UX designer should be adaptive, a strategic thinker, but also get into the weeds on small details. All while keeping things simple. And yes, it is hard to find such a person but definitely possible.
Pay attention to the candidates' experience level, mindset, and solutions they propose. Talent is great, but you're here to find a person who is easy to go along and work shoulder-to-shoulder with. And don't forget that it's not only you who is doing the choosing, so do your homework and prepare well for the interview.
Things always vary depending on a project and a person, but I hope this article clears things up and serves you as a guide on how to hire a UX designer.