6 Mistakes You Want to Avoid When Hiring a UX Designer
By Adam Fard, Lead UX Designer
By Adam Fard, Senior Product Designer
Hiring a UX designer is anything but an easy task, even more so when the world of UX design is completely unknown to you. And with innovations happening daily, it’s tough to keep track of current practices and trends, not to mention the uncertainty of what qualifications, titles, experience, and skills are needed to perform the job at hand.
Being unaware of the most common pitfalls when hiring a UX designer can lead to many mistakes during the recruitment process, all of which can have lasting negative effects on your project and company.
Take a look at these 6 costly mistakes when hiring a UX designer, and learn to avoid them.
1. Merging Several Roles
A common mistake that many companies make is merging several job roles into one. Though it can be super tempting to hire one person to handle a wide range of tasks, like UX, UI, development, marketing, and QA, onboarding a technical “rockstar” can be counter-productive. In fact, it can even be detrimental to your product.
Sure, you can get lucky and strike gold with a multi-talented designer who can juggle several roles. However, most of the time, you’ll end up with an amateur, namely, someone who only dabbles in UX design.
Avoid hiring a second-rate UX designer, and opt to hire a bona fide expert instead. This move will save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.
2. Prioritizing Specific Skills
Constant changes in technology means the demand for specific skills are also changing. This is why hiring a UX designer based on a single skill can be dangerous.
So, avoid it.
Hiring should always be part of your long-term strategy, not a quick fix to an immediate problem.
― Steven J. Bowen
You need to keep an open mind and take a more holistic approach when hiring. For instance, rather than base your hiring decision on a specific skill set, assess the designer’s critical thinking.
How do they go about solving complex problems? Are they able to translate intricate business requirements into great UX design? What about their design process?
These are the skills you should be assessing when hiring a UX designer. Critical thinking, intuition, and problem-solving skills never go out of fashion. This, you can be sure of.
3. Overestimating a UX Portfolio
When going through a UX designer’s portfolio, it’s important that you know what to look for. A frequent mistake that many companies and recruiters make is judging a UX portfolio on quantity, specifically, the number of case studies and samples that the designer has included.
This is a costly mistake when hiring a UX designer. Why? The number of samples has nothing to do with the UX design process nor does it accurately reflect the designer’s skills and experience.
Don’t assume a UX designer with 3 to 5 work samples in their portfolio is any less experienced or qualified than someone with 10 to 20 samples.
Because they’re not.
A great UX designer is aware that several case studies are more than enough to showcase their skills and experience.
Ditch the assumptions and focus on what’s inside the portfolio. A UX portfolio should be presented in a way that clearly shows how and why the designer contributed to the project and the end result. Here’s what you should be judging when looking at a UX portfolio:
- Clearly defined problems
- Initial user research findings
- User testing insights
- Final designs and solutions
- Skills used in the project
- Key metrics
When screening a UX portfolio, put an emphasis on quality and depth, not quantity.
4. Expecting a Quick Turnaround Time
Just because a UX designer has 10 years of experience doesn’t mean that they can magically finish a project overnight. It’s not going to happen and you shouldn’t expect it to.
The whole point of a great UX design is to improve user experience and amplify conversions. Unless you want to sabotage your own product, then rushing a project and the UX designer isn’t going to do you any good. You must allow enough time for the designer to perform their job accordingly.
Speak to the designer about expected deadlines to avoid any misunderstandings and disappointment later on.
5. Posting a Boring Job Ad
In order to attract top talent, you need to create a job ad that will stand out from the crowd. Don’t use a stock template you copied from somewhere on the internet. Take your time to create a job post that will give designers a glimpse into your company. Share your company story, promote your work culture, and present your vision.
If you’re at that stage of getting your business off the ground and can’t offer a huge salary, don’t stress. High salaries don’t always guarantee finding a great UX designer.
When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.
— Simon Sinek
Focus on other ways to spark interest. Offer career growth, learning opportunities, and a stable work-life balance. Explain how your opportunity is unique, and suggest the ways designers can make an impact. Making a good first impression is a crucial part of the hiring process, so make yours count.
6. Ignoring the Fiercely Competitive UX Market
UX is an extremely competitive market. Companies, agencies, and consultancies are all vying for the attention of UX designers. For this reason, it’s important that you learn how to retain talent — even before you acquire it. Here are effective ways to motivate and retain top UX design talent:
- Opportunity. Let the UX designer work on projects they are passionate about.
- Self-actualization. Help them achieve their personal goals and ambitions.
- Autonomy. Encourage them to share ideas and take initiative.
- Professional development. Offer training and benefit packages that inspire growth.
- Breathing space. Ensure a positive and stress-free working environment.
Whatever you do, do not underestimate your competitors when it comes to hiring a UX designer. The competitive market makes it difficult to find and then retain UX designers. Fine-tune your employee retention strategy prior to hiring.
Hiring a UX designer is definitely tricky. But with the right approach, you can be certain that you will find the perfect UX designer to join your team. Good luck!