User experience design continues to be one of the hardest jobs to fill. Companies are realizing the value that creating a great user experience can have on their business. Today, people more than ever expect, and demand, a great experience. This is an exciting time for the industry. However, as companies race to create great user experiences, I’m concerned that the quality of the experiences could be jeopardized.
I’d guess that the rise in demand for user experience designers is being fueled significantly by companies who finally realize the value of focusing on creating a great user experience. But, as companies seek to improve their user experiences, they face a huge challenge in actually finding candidates. Of course, supply and demand is a key contributor to this problem.
However, the greater problem is that most companies don’t truly understand the exact skill set within user experience design that their company specifically needs. Companies are walking blind into the hiring process – and that’s scary, for everyone involved.
So how can we help solve this problem?
How can companies truly understand the role of user experience in their organization? And from this knowledge, how can companies be sure they are hiring the correct person for their team? I think it’s partially a responsibility of the user experience design community to help educate businesses about the spectrum of what we do, because it can be pretty blurry at times!
Here are 3 tips that every company should consider before they set out to hire anyone to do user experience.
#1: Know Your Problem
As a company, you need to identify what problem you think hiring a user experience designer is going to solve. The spectrum of roles within user experience design is very wide, so you have to know what you need. For example, if you had an existing website and were happy with how it was performing, but felt like it was out of date and needed to be updated, you’d want to focus more on the aspects of visual and interface design. On the other hand, if you were embarking on creating a brand new Internet based product, you’d probably want to find someone who was more experienced in research and strategy, and who had more leadership skills and businesses sense.
#2: Know Your Process
Another thing you need to understand is how your existing teams function and how this person would fit into what’s already in place. Do you have an in house technical team or do you outsource all the development? Does your development process follow an agile or more waterfall method? How much value does your company put on user feedback and analysis? These various situations mean very different things and define how a user experience designer would work within the context of your environment.
#3: Know Your People
You have to have an intimate understanding of the existing people and skills on your team. Don’t be fooled. Just because you already have someone on your team who has “designer” in their title, doesn’t mean that they can create a new design for your site or create a great new checkout process. In the same vein, you also have to dig deep and find out who on your team may have hidden skills that could contribute to building a culture of user experience. Find out if any of your developers, specifically front end developers, also have design or user experience skills. You’ll probably be surprised if you ask around. Understanding what talent is already on your team is critical to finding the gaps and hiring the right person to help bring new solutions.
The field of user experience is changing so much. It’s not just about making things pretty. It’s not just about organizing information. It’s not just about making things easy to get to. It’s not just about designing pages and pages of wireframes that map back to a sitemap. It about understanding the journey that happens between the pages, how all those pages connect together to create a cohesive and delightful experience for your customers.
So as you navigate the world of hiring new team members to help you develop a great user experience, don’t get started until you know your Problem, Process, and your People. If you don’t take time to dig deep and understand these areas, you’ll likely end up hiring the wrong person, which in the end is a frustrating experience for both you and the designer.
If you’re a company looking to hire a user experience designer, leave a comment and let me know how you’ve navigated hiring this slightly blurry position :o)