In today's digital landscape, the success of your company largely depends on the user experience (UX) of your website or application. In fact, it can be the make-or-break factor for your business. A well-designed and intuitive interface can keep users engaged and satisfied, while a poorly designed one can drive them away. This might seem obvious, but there's still a surprising number of digital products in the market that fail to fulfill their intended role. It's not just about aesthetics; it's about aligning your offerings with the needs of the users, ensuring that those who start using your product stay with you longer than just during a free trial period. In this article, we will show you how to find the UX design specialists who can help you achieve this goal and how your business can benefit from it all.
If you want to stay in the game, you must focus on delivering solutions that are not only useful and attractive but, above all, tailored to your target audience. Moreover, it's worth considering whether there's even a demand for your product in the market before investing significant time and money in realizing your grand vision. After all, you wouldn't want to channel resources into something destined to fail. It's valuable to have someone who will take care of the entire process, someone who will define our potential audience, plan how what we're creating should work, and be beneficial (both to you as the product owner and to the users, its consumers). We will show you how UX specialists and design agencies can perfectly fulfill this role. You will discover precisely how they can support your business grow and ensure that you reap the intended benefits.
You have 3 possible approaches at your disposal
- You can create a dedicated department within your team responsible for research, analysis, and design solutions, or hire at least one person to be responsible for this
- You can hire an external person, a freelancer, who will provide you with the appropriate solution
- Finally, you can hire a design agency or software house, which will likely take a very comprehensive approach to the matter and propose a tailored solution
The first option generally makes a lot of sense when the solution you're creating is a long-term project, something that will require continuous monitoring, updating, and comprehensive care. Typically, large corporations, banks, or public institutions opt for this approach because they have the budget to permanently maintain an additional department or at least a person responsible for UX/UI. Furthermore, their product keeps growing and requires continuous testing, changes, and supervision. If you're not a corporation but a startup or a company that simply needs project help here and now, creating a UX department may not be the best choice. It's essential to keep in mind that establishing a dedicated department in your company, or even implementing a single individual to fill a UX role, is often a time-consuming process that can stretch over months or even years. Moreover, having a UX department also entails a dedicated career path for specialists, ensuring benefits and keeping their knowledge up to date in a rapidly changing market. As we're aware, competition never rests, and it's in our best interest to ensure we don't fall behind. Not every company has the resources to smoothly establish a new department without encountering obstacles.
A freelancer is often a good choice for a so-called quick task. This is also usually the cheapest option, but you must remember that it's a single individual. If you expect a comprehensive service, value your time, or your product is more than just a simple landing page, relying solely on a freelancer may not be the most suitable route to take.
In most cases, however, the best option will be the third approach, choosing to hire an external design agency. You don't have to immediately change your internal structures and commit to a permanent partnership, but at the same time, you can rely on professional support from not just one, but often many individuals whose knowledge and experience complement each other. An agency often has established internal processes, appropriate software, and resources that you sort of get "out of the box," and unlike a freelancer, they can deliver a complex product in a reasonable time frame.
In this article, we will focus on choosing the right design agency. As you can probably imagine, not all agencies are the same, the number of options can be overwhelming and discouraging, and in the end, you must come to an agreement with one of them. The one that will provide you with a solution that meets the expectations of all stakeholders.
What do you gain by hiring a design agency?
Before we share with you the recipe for finding a design agency that will contribute to the success of your product, you should understand the detailed benefits and services you can expect as part of your collaboration with such an agency.
Depending on your needs, you can choose an agency that specializes in a specific area within the overall design process. For example, you can request only a website audit or preliminary research to define the target audience and the actual needs of potential users. There are also many companies that focus on the visual aspect, i.e., UI (User Interface) design or creating your brand's entire identity.
However, most of these agencies typically offer a comprehensive range of services and provide a holistic design process, from conducting research to defining user journeys, designing both necessary functionalities and visual elements, usability testing, and even KPI (Key Performance Indicator) analysis.
Is a company that offers such a broad range of services trustworthy?
Absolutely, because it's usually not just one person but a team of individuals, each responsible for a different aspect of your project. By choosing a reputable agency, you gain access to a pool of experts and enthusiasts — people who specialize in delivering solutions that simply convert.
UX (User Experience) design firms have an in-depth understanding of your users. They achieve this through methods like analyzing the competition, studying quantitative and qualitative data, engaging with potential users, conducting workshops, and creating user profiles. With a profound understanding of the target audience, they can create user-focused designs and deliver experiences tailored to their needs. Furthermore, they make decisions based on data and ultimately create unique products tailored to your specific business, allowing you to stand out in the market. Your business objectives are equally important to UX designers. They act as a bridge between users, development teams, and stakeholders. On one hand, they know what customers want and expect. On the other hand, they collaborate with developers to achieve these goals while simultaneously improving the company's profitability.
In summary, when partnering with an agency, you can expect the following benefits:
Expertise and experience
A reputable agency boasts an extensive portfolio of successful projects, which serves as a testament to its experience. In general, agencies are well-prepared to handle complex projects right from the start. Their teams consist of multiple specialists who are poised to contribute from various angles to your project.
A well-organized design process
When working with various clients, representatives of project agencies understand what works in individual cases and can propose a process that not only delivers the final solution but also helps alleviate some of your company's resources. Furthermore, what an agency creates is not just mockups for developers to implement the product but also comprehensive documentation that can be utilized by different departments within your company. With well-defined objectives, values, and processes, we can prepare business presentations or even update the entire team's product knowledge. Additionally, along with the mockups, you receive a so-called design system or style guide that defines the individual elements of the product, enabling its easy maintenance and future development.
Save Time and Resources
By entrusting your design work to professionals, you free up your time and resources to focus on your core business activities.
Access to specialized tools
By working with an agency, your company can enjoy the benefits of using industry-specific tools like Figma or Miro without the need to purchase individual licenses. This not only saves your organization the cost of software licenses but also grants you access to the full potential of these powerful tools, enhancing your team's collaborative capabilities and productivity.
Efficient onboarding and swift turnaround
Unlike relying on a single individual where project progress could stall due to their absence, an agency ensures uninterrupted progress. Team members can seamlessly step in to maintain momentum, address any issues, and keep the project moving forward.
Transparent budget and timeline
In most cases, before you start cooperation, you will receive a general cost and estimated completion time. This transparent approach ensures that you possess a clear understanding of the budget and timeframe from the very beginning, enabling you to make well-informed decisions regarding your investment and confirming that the project harmonizes with your financial objectives.
Stay current with design trends
Design agencies are well-versed in the latest design trends and technologies, ensuring your project is up-to-date and competitive.
Defining the Direction
Lastly, if you're not entirely sure about your needs, what would work best for your product, or if you simply want to enhance your existing offerings, a project agency can guide you in the right direction. Drawing upon data and research, they can provide you with insights that shed new light on your product. Armed with a well-structured analysis, you can proceed to implement specific steps in alignment with your priorities.
How to choose the best design agency?
It's easy to imagine that after entering the right query into Google, you'll get dozens, if not hundreds, of matching results.
How do you navigate through it all and select the company that will deliver what you expect?
Of course, it's not straightforward, and in the end, it may depend a little on your luck. However, to significantly boost your chances, you can take the right steps to ensure that the company you choose meets your expectations.
What matters most isn't just the range of services offered or a portfolio filled with recognizable clients – the most crucial factor is the so-called 'match.' Every company is different, with its unique work culture and approach to the solution delivery process. You should find the one that aligns best with your approach and with whom you can communicate effectively.
Effective communication is key here. Of course, we can't downplay the importance of designers' experience and technical skills because the quality of the solutions they create ultimately depends on that. However, before diving into analysis, building flows, or creating prototypes, you should have a clear understanding of your mutual expectations and the way you'll work together. Nothing hampers a project like a lack of good communication!
Below, we present the key steps to consider in selecting the right design agency for your objectives.
Define your needs
Before you start your search, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your project goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve with your design project? Do you need a comprehensive end-to-end solution or maybe only some updates to your existing project? Do you need brand identity or visual resources? This clarity will help you communicate your requirements effectively and evaluate potential agencies.
Even if you don't have a complete grasp of your expectations, you likely have a vision of what you want to achieve, knowing your goals or priorities. These insights are valuable as they can further pinpoint the areas where you need assistance.
Prepare project brief
Now that you have a clear understanding of your expectations and goals, it's time to create a project brief, an indispensable tool for discussions with potential design agencies and a key component of the project's kick-off meeting. We will delve a bit deeper into this topic in the further part of the article.
Research and Shortlist
Start by conducting thorough research. Look for design agencies online, ask for recommendations from peers, and read reviews. Create a shortlist of agencies that align with your goals, have a strong portfolio, and a good reputation. Here, it's crucial to pay attention to the services a particular agency offers and what they specialize in. It's possible that the agency specializes exclusively in e-commerce solutions, while you may be in need of a mobile application for team management, for example. Often, this scope is directly described on the agency's website or can be inferred from their portfolio. However, if you have any doubts, you can always inquire about their scope and experience during an introductory conversation. Furthermore, it's worth considering the type of collaboration you expect, whether it's long-term or short-term. This information can be valuable for the agency and ultimately help narrow down your search.
A design agency's portfolio is like their resume. It showcases their past work and the quality of their designs. Review their portfolio to see if their style and expertise match your project's needs. Pay attention to the diversity of their work and their experience in your industry. And what is important - do not be impressed with their clients, look for what exact work they did and is it a quality one.
Check Client Testimonials
Testimonials and case studies can provide valuable insights into an agency's track record. Reach out to their past clients if possible to get direct feedback on their experience with the agency. Look for reviews on third-party websites like Clutch or DesignRush. You can also check out their LinkedIn profile. It will give you a better understanding of the agency's professionalism, communication, and results.
Meet the Team
A design agency is only as good as its team. Schedule a meeting or consultation with the agency to meet the designers and project managers who will be working on your project. Try to find out how they work and engage in a conversation with their product lead or head of design. Ensure that their expertise and communication style align with your expectations.
Ask about the design process
A good UX/UI design agency should have a clear process for working with clients. Ask about their process, including how they approach research, design, and testing. A well-defined process ensures that your project will be completed on time and to your satisfaction.
Check for Flexibility and Scalability
Consider whether the agency can adapt to your changing needs or future projects. A scalable agency can be a long-term partner for your design requirements, offering a consistent design language across different projects.
Evaluate their communication skills
Effective communication and collaboration are vital for a successful project. Ensure that the agency values open and transparent communication and is willing to collaborate with your team to achieve the best results.
Consider their pricing
Pricing is an important consideration when choosing a UX/UI design agency. Look for an agency that offers transparent pricing and is upfront about any additional costs.
Read the contract carefully
Before signing any agreement, read the contract carefully. Make sure it outlines the project scope, deliverables, timelines, and payment terms clearly. Seek legal advice if necessary to protect your interests.
Pay attention to red flags before hiring an agency...
In the process of hiring designers or design agencies, pay attention to signs that suggest they might not be the best fit. Look beyond their experience and online reviews; consider whether they show a genuine interest in your project by asking for data, research, and the possibility of conducting analyses. This commitment to understanding your project's goals is a positive sign. Conversely, if they rush into creating mockups without thorough inquiry, it could be a red flag.
Also, consider whether they approach each project uniquely or follow a standard pattern. Opting for a company that customizes their approach for each project can be beneficial.
Don't skip the project brief – it's your preparation for the kick-off meeting!
As mentioned earlier, preparing a project brief is one of the key steps to ensuring a successful start when collaborating with a design agency. It's safe to say it's one of the most crucial steps, as the UX designers' understanding of your needs largely depends on what you present to them. You don't have to have all the answers to every possible question, as you and the design team will work together to uncover solutions throughout the project. However, the more information you can provide at the beginning of the project, whether it's for the design team, researchers, auditors, or even branding experts, the better.
Your project brief might and often should include the following:
- Defining the project's goals and expectations
- Outlining the scope of work
- Setting timelines and budget constraints
- Providing all relevant materials your company possesses in the context of the project, such as brand guidelines, reports, previous work results (if applicable), and analysis findings
- Clearly expressing any specific methodologies, technologies, or design principles you prefer, along with your questions and expectations.
A well-structured project brief serves as a roadmap for productive collaboration and ensures a successful project launch.
Remember, finding the right UX/UI design agency is not about settling for what's readily available - it's about investing time and effort into finding a partner who can bring your ideas to life in the most impactful way possible. So don't rush this decision; take the time needed to research, compare portfolios, read client testimonials, and have conversations with potential agencies. Your project deserves nothing less than the best fit for success.