As an Employer, What Should I Look for in a UX Designer?

Being someone that’s both an educator and a UX consultant, I’m frequently asked how to hire a UX designer. What should you look for? Here’s my answer…
I’d seek someone who:

  • Has strong research skills (talks to users to uncover and understand problems) with the ability to:
  • - Design and ask good research questions that are useful to what will be designed
  • - Not show bias
  • - Ask probing follow-up questions that uncover golden nuggets of useful information
  • Can speak specifically to how they used research to inform their design decisions
  • Uses and can explain their design process, for example, the Double Diamond process
  • Has a strong understanding of cognitive behavior and can use this information to drive positive outcomes
  • Conducts usability tests using standard practices like screeners, scripts, clear tasks and asking unbiased questions
  • Can explain heuristics and other design approaches
  • Is strong in Information Architecture because, while frequently overlooked, most projects are rooted in taxonomy and navigation.
  • Has knowledge regarding how people go about attaining information, for example: are they a power searcher who likes to get lots of results or do they only want a specific singular result (SUPER IMPORTANT!)
  • Understands and incorporates your business goals but knows that users come first
  • Knows how to define measurable UX goals to determine the success or failure of projects
  • Has some code knowledge (to avoid designing something that can’t be developed)
  • Matches your technical needs (How well do they know responsive design? iOS / Android platforms? etc.)
  • Has presentation skills, and can tell the “story” of their project
  • Has the ability to work with product managers and developers without offending them
  • Has the appropriate skill set for visual design if required

It’s a good idea to offer a potential employee a design challenge, not because you’re looking to pass or fail someone but because you want to use the challenge as a start of a conversation to gain insights into all of the above and how they think.

The above list may be long, but a UX designer is responsible for a lot of the success/failure of a product. You want to make sure you hire someone who measures up! Taking care in the hiring process can mean the difference between hiring someone who can think for themselves and solves problems versus someone who mindlessly reproduces what other companies have already done.

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