So you’ve decided to design a website for your business. That’s great! It’s exciting, and it’s the first step toward your ultimate business goal of generating more sales. But you’ve never done this before, and you don’t know where to start.
You don’t even know what questions to ask a design agency when interviewing them.
That’s a totally reasonable scenario to find yourself in, and it’s one a lot of small businesses often encounter when they first decide to create a digital presence.
How to Hire a UX Designer: 4 Questions You Need To Ask Before Hiring
To ask the right questions you first need to understand what user experience (UX) is.
At a high level, UX is anyway a user interacts with and experiences your product or service, including any and all touchpoints. It’s their entire journey through your website, rooted in any emotions they feel along the way.
Empathizing with the user is the crux of UX design.
UX research informs the user interface (UI) design because design without research is just design for the sake of design. You can make something look pretty, but if it doesn’t take the user into account, then they may have a bad time using your site.
Asking the right questions to a UX agency before hiring them is a vital step in finding someone who’s going to deliver the project that you’re imagining.
1. What do you believe UX is?
I know, this is something you may have just learned about a few paragraphs ago, but I promise you’ll want to know their answer to this.
Most UX agencies worth their salt know that UX is about the user—it’s not exactly a secret—but it’s not only about the user. It’s also about one of the main reasons your business exists in the first place.
If an agency I’m looking to hire tells me they’re advocates for the user, I’m going to be like “Okay, and? What about my business, bro? I need to make money.”
So what answer should you be looking for?
Well, the way I always answer the question is by telling potential clients that we are advocates for the user within the business goals.
Not only do we design with a user-centric approach, but we also always keep in mind the needs of our clients from a business perspective. Sometimes that conflicts with what the user wants.
2. What you do when the user wants something different than what the business wants?
In a perfect world, user goals and business goals would line up, but we don’t live in a perfect world, as evidenced by 2020, so how do they connect these goals if they’re divergent?
If they focus too much on the user, or too much on the business, they’re going to tip the scales and the whole balancing act is going to collapse.
The answer you’re looking for here is one where they make it clear that their goal is to make the business successful, and when a divergent view of a user exists, they find a way to bridge that.
Their answer here could be a red flag. If someone says, “There is no way to do that,” then you can just move forward without them.
Come on, there’s always away.
3. What is your design process?
Every UX agency should have a robust and well-defined process that they can easily speak to. That’s basic stuff, and it’s not too much for you to ask to want to know their plan for your project.
UX design isn’t just creating fancy user interfaces on a first or second try. It’s meticulous user research that includes interviews and competitor analysis, persona creation to define the user, site maps and journey maps to plan everything out, and plenty of iteration in both wireframing and high-fidelity.
While your relationship is still in the early stages, if they’ve done their homework, they should be able to give you a pretty solid idea of where they would start and what strategies they would use.
If they stumble through a cookie-cutter outline? SEE YA!
4. What kind of a team do I get?
Learning about who you’ll be working with is just common sense.
First of all, you want a partner, not an agency that can only do things their way. They should be adaptable and communicative, guiding you through the process and keeping you as informed as you want to be on all project updates.
The agency should also be able to deliver on time and within budget. Sometimes the scope can balloon a bit due to unforeseen circumstances, but generally, ongoing communication should allow you to make decisions along the way that help prevent that.
Lastly, the agency should be able to provide you with a portfolio of work so you can see exactly what you’re paying for. Most agencies will even have case studies that allow you to read up on their design process before making a decision.
Makes sense, right?
Choosing the right UX agency for your project can seem like a tall task, but it doesn’t have to be. The more you can learn about them, the more you can understand whether the fit is right, which is important in and of itself.
Sometimes their style just isn’t what you’re looking for, and that’s okay.
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.