UX Design is one of the most sought-after jobs in today’s tech-savvy world. And UX designers are popping up a dime a dozen. How do you sift out the best and hire the right UX designer for your software company?
From a hiring perspective, it is important to understand why exactly you are looking for in a UX designer. UX could mean different things to different people. For some the focus is on graphic design skills while others may give research the priority. You need to be able to understand what a UX designer does and where s/he fits in the overall scheme of your company’s goals.
The size of your company or project will also determine the kind of UX designer you need. For example a startup may look for a UX designer who can contribute to other aspects as well, whereas a larger company may need a person who specializes in research.
Once you are clear on your requirements, you need to communicate these in a detailed job description or posting. The more clarity on the profile, the better the chances of the right hire.
Assuming you have done the above let us take a look at what the ideal UX candidate profile should be for a software company.
The UX Designer Needs To Understand Business: And yes! This is first on our list. A UX designer may have the tendency to focus only on research or the nitty-gritty’s of visual design. However, a good UX designer will be able to ask questions about your business strategy understand sales figures and understand business operation methods that help the businesses productivity. The UX designer must be aware that the design is not just for the consumer but for the business as well.
They See The Big Picture: How will the idea change the consumers’ behavior or the business process? The UX designer needs to have a holistic understanding of the process, while being able to focus on the details as well. They don’t let the details bog them down. A good UX designer will consciously put in an effort to understand the big picture. S/he will try and gain insights from other people and will always have an eye on the overall scheme of things.
Communication Skills: The UX designer does not work in isolation. S/he has to work with a number of people, from members of the team to the end consumer. Being able to communicate his/her ideas effectively to all these people is a key skill in UX design. The UX designers’ job does not end at wireframes and design mocks.
Communication is complex. It is not limited to speaking or writing well. Majority of our communication is non-verbal and visual. A good UX designer relies a lot on non-verbal communication while conducting research or getting feedback from a consumer. Expressions, tone of voice and body language can convey far more than the said. The UX designer also relies on visual design to clearly convey ideas to the client or other team members.
Another overlooked aspect of UX communication is communication with the consumer. Verbally a good UX designer will be able to explain the software product in lay-man terms. Also when a consumer is using new software, every error message or button or any text that used in the program must be well thought out. If written correctly, the user will use it in the right way saving you time and money.
A Solution Seeker: Essentially a UX designer tries to solve an existing problem or prevent a future problem from cropping up. For this they need to have a curious bent of mind. Why aren’t users responding well to a product? Why isn’t a client satisfied? The UX designer is constantly asking these questions and seeking the solutions. A good UX designer will engage in the problem by asking insightful questions and listening actively.
Empathy: As the job title suggests, A UX designer needs to be able to enhance the users’ experience. Along with curiosity, a key in achieving this is also empathy. A good UX designer needs to have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They need to be good listeners and great observers. They need to be able to put the other person’s needs before their own. This requires them to be able to act on what they have heard and observed. A good UX designer will also have humility. S/he will always ask questions and be ready to admit his/her shortcomings.
Educational Qualifications: UX design is the bridge between the consumer and the product. Consumers are human and a UX designer needs to understand how they behave. Products are technology and the UX designer needs to understand how they work. There are no ‘must-have’ degrees for UXers but having any of these on their profile is a plus point.
- Psychology/anthropology/Human-Computer Interaction or an allied field
- Computer science/programming/web development or an allied field
- Design thinking/Visual design/Interaction design/Fine arts or an allied field
There are also courses in User Experience Design itself.
However, this field is still quite nascent and your best talent may not even have a degree. While selecting a candidate educational qualifications are a plus and not a must.
Their Process: Often, user experience research is confined to what is called ‘usability testing’. Essentially that means sharing a prototype of your product with users and collecting their feedback. Whilst this is an important part of UX design, it’s not the best way to begin. Usability testing is a reactive process while user experience design is a proactive process.
A good UX designer will begin their by doing research. Even before the product has been designed or developed, the UXer will identify the market for the product, the competition it faces and its potential end users. The UXer will also reach out to the potential consumers and understand their needs. This is done through surveys, contextual interviews, observation etc. Based on this research the UXer will create a strategy.
While hiring a UX designer, understand the process they use. If research isn’t their first step, chances are they are not the right fit for the job.
The Portfolio: A designer needs a portfolio and your ideal UX designer should have one. The style and presentation of the portfolio is not as important as its contents. The main thing to understand from a portfolio is not so much the final output, as it is where and how the candidate contributed to the process. A good portfolio will make this clear. If the candidates output has evolved over the years it shows the potential to grow. This is your ideal UX designer.
With the rapid changes in technology we witness today, it is important for software companies to keep innovating to stay current. Software companies need UX designers for this process. UX designers help envision great products for real users. They help the company work with a purpose and therefore work more efficiently. In the end, their purpose is to delight the user.