How to Hire the Right UI/UX Designer
High-quality user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design is crucial for your software’s success on the market. Outdated and inconvenient designs contribute to high bounce rates and uninstall rates for websites and apps, so it’s vital for a business to invest into design and hire experts in user behavior. Learn the best ways to find and hire both UI and UX designers for your project
Software standards have been steadily increasing over the years, and today good design is essential for any software development process. Both UI and UX designers take part in different stages of the software development process, helping you create the user journey and the flow of your app or website, which of course influences its business logic.
For large and complex products, it’s best to hire separate UI and UX designers so they can focus on specific tasks
There are different types of UI and UX designers. Though these roles are very different, many experienced professionals combine both. In this article, I’ll mostly talk about UI/UX design as a single role. Note, however, that for large and complex products, it’s best to hire separate UI and UX designers so they can focus on specific tasks.
How to hire a UI UX designer? How much does UX design cost? You’ll find answers to these questions in this article.
Why hire a UI/UX designer?
Software development is a competitive field where businesses fight for users’ attention. Those businesses that get users’ attention first win. While some business owners delve deep into technical specifications, users don’t care what’s under the hood.
All they need is a simple and pleasant interaction that will solve their issue or entertain them. There are two things that hold users’ attention: purposefulness and emotion.
UI and UX design are responsible for precisely these things. User interface design is important for emotions, as you can create a mood by choosing the right colors and aesthetics and by adding small UI elements that evoke associations.
Who is a UX designer? User experience design, on the other hand, helps users achieve their goals in a convenient and simple way. UX designers understand how users think while interacting with the interface. They determine what users need and how to help them get it in the easiest way possible.
UX designers analyze the target audience, influence their behavior through the interface, and push users to make a purchase or keep them from losing interest in your product.
UI and UX design are your primary ways of interacting and connecting with your target audience. Not only that: they also help you maximize conversions, engagement, and emotional involvement with your product, which eventually converts into revenue for your business.
As you can see, the importance of a UI/UX designer is hard to overstate. Let’s learn more about UI and UX designers, their types, and ways to hire them effectively.
What is a good UX design?
While UI design seems more like an art, although it still has its rules, UX design is definitely a science. How do you tell good UX design from the bad?
Good UX design is based on hard data about your target audience, rather than on subjective assumptions. Before developing wireframes, a UX designer should learn about your users, their needs, behavior, habits, preferences, and expectations.
To create great user experience, a UX designer should be able to empathize with a user, and combine their preferences and expectations with business goals and industry standards.
To do this effectively, UX designers conduct market, competitor, and user research, and create user personas. A user persona is a generalized idea of your user group, presented in a form of a personification. A user persona has a name, profession, likes, dislikes, hobbies, and problems they need to solve.
A UX designer is a person who’s able to walk in the user’s shoes, and combine empathy with business goals, and industry standards that also dictate what a piece of software should look like and function.
Roles and responsibilities of UI/UX designers
The roles of UI and UX designers are different, but many professionals combine both skill sets. I will describe the roles and responsibilities of UI and UX designers separately for convenience.
A UI designer designs visual interfaces for your product. As a result of their work, you will get:
- A visual design for your application
- Branding visuals
- Animations and interactive elements
- UI prototypes
- Images and media for your app (e.g. logos and icons)
- Color schemes
- Typography and text elements
- Lists, forms, tables, and menus
A UX designer is responsible for the product’s user experience and flow. Their responsibilities include:
- Conducting various types of research, including user research
- Collecting information about your product and target audience
- Designing user scenarios
- Prototyping and wireframing
- Creating surveys for users
- Creating navigation between product screens
- Tracking user behavior
- Performing A/B testing for various UX elements
If you hire two separate specialists in UI and UX design, they will work on a design together. First, the UX designer will create wireframes and layouts for key elements of the software product. Then the UI designer will use them to create the visual style for each element and component.
UI/UX designer skill set
What should a good UI/UX designer be able to do, and how can you assess their skills? Let’s talk about both hard and soft skills a UI/UX designer should have.
Key soft skills
- Empathy with users
- Analytical thinking
- Interface design
- Layouts and grids
- Visual hierarchy
- Visual communication
- Wireframing and prototyping
- Information architecture
- Interaction design
- Knowledge of design tools (Figma, Sketch, Balsamiq, etc.)
Now that you know what to look for in a UX designer, let’s talk about what to avoid during this process.
Mistakes to avoid when hiring a UI/UX designer
For some people, the job of a designer is quite vague, and misconceptions about the role of designers in project development can lead to poor hiring decisions. Let’s talk about challenges and common mistakes you may encounter when hiring a UI/UX designer.
1. Only expecting a beautiful prototype from a designer
One of the jobs of your UI/UX designer is to create beautiful visuals for your software. However, sometimes business owners think that this is the designer’s sole purpose. When you hire a UI/UX designer, they should also participate in building your product and researching your business goals so they can be represented in the layout.
If you just need a visual design, it’s a good idea to hire a UI designer specifically, but note that a UI designer will need something to work from, such as wireframes and prototypes.
2. Hiring a UI/UX designer too late in the process
Some businesses hire designers when the majority of the project is already developed. The goal here is not to create wireframes from scratch but to perform a UI or UX audit, edit elements, or just review texts and graphics.
However, UX development is more complex and insightful, so there’s not so much a UX designer can do when the product is already developed.
It’s best to hire a UI/UX designer at the start of the project so that your UX is aligned with the software’s business logic. A UX designer will provide you with the structure of relations between features, and this will help your developers build software accordingly.
3. Creating brand identity without a designer
Your software’s UI and UX design represent your business’s identity, which is why it’s so important that your software is aligned with your business goals and the message you send to potential and current customers.
Your UI/UX designer’s first step is always to learn about your business and your target audience. If you treat your designer as just a person who picks colors and shapes for your product, you’re missing out on having an exceptional design.
To get a meaningful design, give your UI/UX specialist access to stakeholders, business owners, and marketing leads so they can learn about your business from all angles.
Now that we’ve discussed the roles and responsibilities of designers and determined the best time to hire them for your new project, let’s find out where exactly you should look for the perfect designer for you and how to hire them.
Top hiring strategies: freelance, outsource, or in-house
The places where you’ll be looking for your designer depend on your hiring strategy. In general, there are three strategies: hire a UI/UX designer in-house, hire a freelance designer or partner with an outsourcing company or a design agency.
There’s no perfect approach that fits all situations, as your strategy will depend on your needs, preferences, budget, and the current hiring market. Let’s review each option.
Hiring an in-house designer
Many businesses choose to hire mobile UI designers in-house when they have a steady workflow that requires constant work on new designs.
When you hire an in-house designer, you get someone who knows your business from the inside. This is especially important for complex products that need to find their unique voice through design. Having a designer in-house allows for the most personalized approach in both UI and UX design.
However, hiring in-house designers is usually more expensive than hiring freelancers or outsourcing companies. The cost of hiring a UI/UX designer in-house is high because you need to take care of all expenses like sick leaves, paid vacations, bonuses, salary, taxes, equipment, and workspace.
Hiring a freelance designer
Hiring a freelance designer is perfect for short-term projects and fairly small teams. This is why freelance platforms are a primary place where people find UX designers for startups. Freelancers usually require more time for management, so managing a large team of freelancers can be tiresome and messy.
Hiring freelancers opens new opportunities for you, as you can hire from anywhere in the world. The same applies to partnering with outsourcing companies or hiring remote designers in-house, of course, especially in 2022 when lots of specialists work remotely.
The cost of hiring a freelancer usually depends on the country the freelancer is based, so you can save money by looking for a UI/UX expert in countries with lower costs of living. The same goes for outsourcing companies.
Freelancers, however, have one major downside: they are often not as stable in their work and probably won’t dive as deep into your product as an in-house designer would. As a result, you may get a good but generic design.
Here are some pros and cons of hiring a freelance designer.
- Low cost
- Easy access to specialists
- Worldwide talent pool
- Able to handle tight deadlines
- Challenging to manage
- Lack of reliability
- Lack of deep, personalized approach
- Poor communication
Partnering with an outsourcing company
Outsourcing companies and design agencies, just like freelancers, give you access to all kinds of specialists in any part of the world. Though partnering with outsourcing companies is often more costly than hiring freelancers, you get reliability, better work processes, and access to additional services. Communication is usually also more organized with an outsourcing company than with freelancers.
Outsourcing companies charge hourly fees based on their location. For example, design agencies in the US can charge $100 to $200 per hour for UI/UX design, while in India you can get design services for $8 to $15 per hour. Eastern European countries like Ukraine offer a perfect balance, charging $20 to $50 per hour.
When hiring a design agency, you don’t need to worry about taxes, salaries, bonuses, and workspaces, but you can still get a dedicated designer who will learn about your business through organized communication.
Here are some pros and cons of hiring an outsourcing company for UI/UX design.
- Easy access to specialists
- Worldwide talent pool
- Proficiency and quality
- Higher price compared to freelancers
Note, that most outsourcing companies offer different cooperation options, from dedicated teams to IT staff augmentation. You can just hire a dedicated UI/UX designer into your team for a certain number of hours, or get a full team of IT specialists.
Where to find a good UI/UX designer
Your strategy for finding the perfect UI/UX designer will depend on your hiring strategy. Here are places you will probably look when shortlisting designers, no matter if they’re freelancers or members of a design agency:
- UX Collective
- Designer News
You can also find designers through:
- Recommendations. Ask your acquaintances or partners if they know good design agencies. Then check their profiles on the platforms I mentioned above to figure out if you like what they do.
- Clutch.co and GoodFirms. If you’re looking for a good agency, check listings on Clutch and GoodFirms. On these platforms, you’ll find credible reviews and short descriptions of previous projects potential vendors have worked on.
- Blogs. Many agencies create content on UI and UX that you can check out along with their portfolio and website. Lots of software development companies provide UI/UX design services, so you can not only hire a designer but also get other specialists.
- Freelance platforms. If you want to hire a freelancer, websites like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99designs are good places to search.
I recommend checking several sources to learn more about potential candidates. For example, if you want to hire offshore UI/UX designers from an agency, check out their website, portfolio, profiles on Behance and Dribbble, and also reviews on Clutch.
Collect as much information as possible, and contact companies directly for quotes. Finding and shortlisting designers is only one step in the whole hiring process. Now you know where to find UX designers. Let’s now discuss all the stages of hiring a UI designer.
How to hire a UI/UX designer
Step 1. Define your requirements
The first step in hiring a designer is not to find them but to answer the question why you need them. The answer should come as a list of requirements and business needs.
For example, say you plan to create a mobile application for your customers to increase conversions and sales and also to increase brand awareness. You need to define your expectations from a business perspective and share them with the designer, along with other materials like information about your business, your main competitors, and how you’re different from them. Your unique business traits will translate into your design.
Step 2. Find and shortlist candidates
After you define what you want from a designer, you can start searching. Check all the resources I’ve mentioned. After you’ve done your research, shortlist designers or agencies and start analyzing them thoroughly.
Step 3. Check out portfolios
Designers often have multiple profiles and portfolios on different platforms. You can find a list of trustworthy platforms in the previous section of this article.
Design agencies will showcase their portfolios on their websites as well as on popular platforms like Dribbble and Behance. For example, at Mobindustry, we have profiles on both these platforms where you can check out our concepts and projects we’ve designed for our clients.
When checking a portfolio, look for projects similar to yours and make sure the designer has experience creating designs for products in your domain.
Step 4. Interview candidates
Interviewing is an important part of the hiring process where you not only assess your candidates’ hard skills but also their soft skills. If you have no design background, it’s a good idea to involve an experienced specialist who will be able to accurately assess candidates.
Step 5. Sign a contract
This step is necessary if you partner with a design agency. After you negotiate all the details like cost and scope of work, it’s time to sign a contract that will protect you from broken deadlines and unsatisfactory work. Some experienced freelancers also offer contracts to their customers.
How much does it cost to hire a UI/UX designer?
The cost of hiring a UX designer will depend on your strategy. For example, if you choose to hire locally in-house, you’ll need to match the rates in your local market. If you hire a freelancer or an outsourcing company, the hourly rate will depend mostly on the location.
For example, the average hourly rate for UI/UX design in Ukraine is $20 to $40, which is three to four times lower than in the US or the UK. In India and Pakistan, the hourly rates for UI/UX design can be as low as $8 to $10 per hour, but many companies encounter communication challenges when hiring from these countries.
The cost of the design also depends on the task. For example, creating brand personas and performing target audience analysis can cost up to $75 per hour, while simple prototypes might cost $25 per hour or less. Some freelance designers don’t have hourly rates: they calculate the cost of the whole project based on your requirements, deadlines, and scope of work.
Let’s compare the cost of hiring a designer according to the three hiring strategies we’ve discussed. Say you’re a US-based company that needs a UI/UX designer. Here’s what your options will look like:
|In-house UI/UX designer from the US
|Designer from Ukraine-based agency
|Average hourly rate
|Taxes, bonuses, benefits, workspace, equipment, etc.
|Freelance platform’s commission
|HR costs, job postings, ads
|Manager’s time for sourcing and interviewing candidates
|Manager’s time for sourcing and interviewing agencies
Every digital product needs UI/UX design. The expectations for applications and websites rise each year as the competition grows, and users have plenty of options for software in almost every domain. A good UI/UX design can be critical for your conversions, engagement, sales, and eventually revenue.
A UI/UX designer has expertise in both visual and usability design, though you can always hire two designers separately so they focus on specific tasks.
A good UI/UX designer should immerse themselves in your business processes so that the final product communicates with your target audience through visual elements and user stories.
Partnering with a UI/UX design agency is the most universal solution, as it suits both large and small projects, and by hiring overseas, you can save lots of money
There’s no best way to hire a UX designer because your hiring strategy should depend on your current needs. For large long-term projects, it’s best to hire in-house; for simpler software products, you can hire UI UX designers on freelance platforms.
Partnering with a UI/UX design agency is the most universal solution, as it suits both large and small projects, and by hiring overseas, you can save lots of money not only due to lower hourly rates but also because you won’t need to have any extra expenses on vacations, bonuses and taxes.
If you need to hire the right UX designer or a UI designer for your project, be sure to contact us. Our UI/UX designers approach each project from a business perspective and make sure your product drives conversions, sales, and engagement.