How to Hire a UX Designer: Main Options and Tips

The across-the-board advent of Industry 4.0 has propelled digital products to the top of the most wanted items people of the 21st century make use of every day. And while playing computer games, paying for groceries via a banking app, using a website to find suitable lodging, or shopping at an e-store, we like our interaction with these solutions to be smooth and efficient. Providing a satisfactory user experience is the task of a UX specialist each IT team should have on its roster. However, it is not that simple to hire a UX designer who will possess the necessary expertise and will be a good fit for the organization. Let’s explore the nitty-gritty of this process, starting from the basics.

How Do You Know That Your Team Needs a UX Designer?

This isn’t really a poser. The relevance of the job is conditioned by the nature of the industry where these specialists work. If the ultimate goal of your organization is to deliver digital products to as large a user audience as it might be, then you can't do without a UX expert. Yet, the presence of the “designer” part in the job name may be quite misleading for your attempts to find UX designers, so it is crucial to see the difference between the responsibilities of professions with the same component. 

  • Graphic designers. They handle the visuals and devise a brand's logo and corporate style. But their capabilities aren't limited by software development, which makes them suitable persons for creating social media images or even designing T-shirts. 
  • UI designers. As one may guess from the name, these guys are in charge of the visual side of the interface of an application or a website. Illustrations, buttons, colors, icons, animations, fonts, and other front-end elements are their province. 
  • UX designers. They take care the IT product is easy and enjoyable to use. Since delightful user experience largely depends on how the solution looks, you can often meet a UX/UI designer who is capable of covering both these closely related aspects. Yet the UX expert’s authority is much wider and quite distinct from just the creation of an attractive UI. What is it all about?

The basic approach a UX designer takes in their work boils down to adopting the user’s perspective in interacting with the solution. It is true that the aesthetic impression comes first, but it may fail to live up to the functional expectations users have while seeing the screen. Appealing icons may turn out useless if people are confused by the intricacies of operating the app and get lost at the very start of the user journey. That is why the key characteristics UX designers aim to achieve for the product are simplicity and intuitiveness. How can it be accomplished?

The point of departure for a successful UX design is the profound awareness of the target audience of the product. UX experts should discover the demographics, location, financial status, shopping preferences, and other features of the people that influence their user behavior and differentiate, say, the UX for a banking app from a UX for a learning app for pre-schoolers. 

Having such insights at their fingertips, UX designers apply this knowledge at all stages of product development – from mapping user flow and wireframing to creating prototypes and testing them. But they can’t rest on their oars even when the solution is completed. The finished product may need updates, fine-tunings, and improvements that will enhance navigation across the app or pages of the website and minimize the drop-off of the users.

How to hire UX designer who will handle such a scope of tasks?

Hiring a UX Designer: Skills to Look for

As an experienced UX design agency, we at UXBee know that a good UX designer should possess an extensive list of various qualities.

 The must-have UX hard skills comprise:

  • Mastery of basic UX design techniques, including user journey maps, user flows, wireframes, prototypes, etc.
  • Expertise in the core software, mandatory as for graphic tools (Adobe, Sketch, Balsamiq, Figma) and prototyping solutions (Framer and Invision), and optional as for animation tools, enabling them to handle interface design, namely layouts, grids, typography, visual hierarchy, etc.
  • Proficiency in usability testing, Google Analytics, and other research methods and tools.
  • Knowledge of design thinking methodology.
  • Ability to apply basic tenets of psychology in UX design
  • Understanding the value of design metrics.
  • Awareness of interaction design and information architecture.

Among soft skills, the most important are:

  • Communication. The ability to discuss, negotiate, mediate, empathize, and collaborate with various people (both from within the organization and with clients) is vital for the success of their mission.
  • Cooperation. An IT product is a team brainchild, so without the talent to get along with colleagues for a common cause, any project is doomed to defeat.
  • Problem setting. UX designers can’t operate without the ability to identify and prioritize problems.
  • Idea generation. A good specialist in this field can swiftly generate executable ideas.
  • Focus on innovation. Top-notch UXers keep abreast of the latest trends in the industry and are ready to implement them in the product they are working on.
  • User orientation. The users’ interests and their feedback are the key factors that the UX designer should steer by.
  • Cultural flexibility. An ideal employee must be able to fit well with the corporate culture and comply with its rules. 

Once you know what to look for while hiring UX designer, you should consider possible venues where you can get in touch with them.

Where to Find UX designers

Basically, you have three recruiting options.

In-House Hiring

This is the best choice for large organizations that can provide sufficient workload for their full-time or part-time employees. In this case, they will become a cog in your company’s mechanism that will comply with its policies and regulations and will be easy to control. Moreover, such personnel will have to handle tasks of any scope and complexity you have in mind for them – from landing pages to enterprise solutions.

These evident assets are offset by quite serious disadvantages. First of all, you will have to pay them a salary no matter whether they work with their nose to the grindstone or twiddle their thumbs during the downtime. Besides, you will have to buy equipment and software, rent the premises, deal with taxes and tons of documents, cover their training expenditures, sick leaves, insurance, paid vacations, etc. All such financial and red tape considerations rule out this option for cash-strapped startups.


Small companies on short commons that have a one-off project of unlimited duration can do well by finding a freelance UX designer. Yet, getting a mission-critical expert at a bargain price is never a prudent step to make. Being penny-wise, you may turn out to be pound-foolish if you fall in with an unreliable person who has several projects on their hands and can hardly pay due attention to yours. As a result, looking for cost-efficiency, you will get a low-quality product that will have to be doctored to get it into the desired shape. Hardly the outcome you hoped for. 


On balance, this is the most sensible choice, which we would recommend. Customers that enlist the services of a design agency admit that they have the best of the two previous possibilities and get the optimal price/quality ratio. 

On the one hand, by hiring a UX designer from a reliable agency, you are free from any legal and financial commitments related to maintaining in-house staff, which makes this alternative a cost-efficient one. On the other hand, you get a competent dedicated specialist (or a whole group of them if the project scope requires it) who is well versed in their domain of expertise and is more reliable to cooperate with in the long run.

Another plus of this model is that you can put the project on standby if there is a hiatus in it for some reason or stop cooperation with the agency when the product is ready, and you don't plan to launch a new one for some time. Moreover, you have a choice as to providing an in-house project manager for it or onboarding the one that the agency is sure to offer. 

Despite the availability of various hiring venues, the shortage of UX designers is evident, at least in Europe, which is likely to be symptomatic of the current state of the IT market in general. 

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Yet, whatever source of talent you will eventually adopt, you should know how to approach the hiring process to get the most value for your money.

How to Hire a UX Designer Who Will Deliver: Essential Tips

Of course, looking at the candidate’s hard and soft skills is the bedrock of the recruiting routine. To make the job interview more efficient, pay attention to the following tips. 

Tip 1. Start with General Questions

Some of them are quite typical ones that are meant to find out the motifs that led the person in front of you to become a UX designer or apply for a position at this very company. Yet we recommend asking several "tricky questions" (like "What is design?" or "What is a good interface?”). 

Why are they tricky? Because they seem very basic and consequently quite unexpected to hear at such a serious procedure and, therefore, can make a person uncomfortable. Their aim is to check how the candidate can handle stressful situations like that when you have to choose among several right answers. If they contain such words as "inclusive," "accessible," or "empathy," it is a definite plus for a modern professional.

Tip 2. Go Through the Cases in the Portfolio

It is not only about the visual appeal of the showcased projects. The applicant should explain their role in them and point out which design decisions belonged to them and which were outside their responsibility area. A definite plus would be the relevance of the project to the niche or industry where you plan to employ the candidate. 

Tip 3. Discover the Logic behind Design Decisions

This tip can be used while still reviewing the applicant’s portfolio. (S)he must enumerate the software and tools that were utilized in each particular design case and describe the reasons for choosing them. Then the candidate must demonstrate how the chosen solution contributed to the smooth user flow or helped to deal with a concrete usability issue. By way of alternative, you can ask him/her to guide you through a flow and/or design process.

Tip 4. Inquire about the Research Scheme

In UX design, research is crucial since it lays the foundation for all further steps taken in the development pipeline. The candidate must be able to tell you about the research methods and roadmap (s)he followed during this preparatory stage of projects they participated in, as well as the procedure applied for the analysis of the obtained data. 

Tip 5. Conduct a Test

This is where you can move from words to actions. Typically, we ask applicants to improve the existing interface or/and create one from scratch. By doing it, you will be able to understand how the designer handles the initial data, discerns the business goal, and identifies user expectations. Try to make the expert face a unique situation (even a controversial one) to check their ability to tackle unexpected challenges. 

Tip 6. Check Communication Skills

This isn’t a separate procedure but rather an observation that you should perform during the entire interview. Since a fair share of a designer's work consists in interaction with colleagues and users, they should be able to express themselves clearly and present their work in an orderly manner. And this is the ability that can be traced throughout your meeting.

Tip 7. Get Reasonably Personal

Try to discover something about the personality of the candidate. Ask him/her to outline their strengths and weaknesses, remember the greatest professional challenge and the way they dealt with it, and say a few words about their values. These small details will help you to form a complete image of the person sitting before you. 

While going through the selection treadmill, it is important to avoid the bad calls many employers make. 

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Top Four Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a UX Designer

With the pivotal tips given in the previous section, it seems impossible that your selection process can go wrong. Yet many managers are good at botching it just because they are trammeled by popular misconceptions spread in the IT realm. What are the most notorious of them?

Brand Identity Can Be Created without a UX Designer

The design of your brainchild isn't only about the IT product itself. It is also about the company that launched it. The look and feel of the solution, as well as its color scheme and style, send a message to the consumers about your values and business goals. The product can hit it big only when they are aligned with the users’ needs and preferences. A UX designer is called to bring them all together by getting in touch with the maximum number of stakeholders (from business owners to leads and users) and developing actionable insights after such communications and research.

You Can Hire a UX Designer at Any Stage of the Project

To save on expenditures, some organizations prefer to recruit a UX designer when the project is well underway. Such scrimpy entrepreneurs conventionally want them to perform a UX audit, review graphics, or edit some elements. 

Yet, the scope of a UXer’s responsibilities goes deeper than making a couple of superficial corrections. When the solution is almost ready, it is unreal to remedy the structure of relations between features or overhaul the business logic behind it. Naturally, a UX designer will do their best to revamp whatever is possible, but you can’t expect any radical improvement of the concept this late into the project. 

A Pretty Portfolio Is What Must Decide Your Choice

A user may love the visual appeal of your product but ditch it after they can't complete the purchase because of the numerous glitches or confusing clickstreams. The same is true about attractive images in portfolios. Just the beautiful looks won’t get you far if the user journey is too messy or perplexing. You should go beyond the aesthetics of the portfolio and subject the candidate to a meticulous selection procedure.

An Experienced UX Designer Will Work Well under Any Conditions

In the ideal world, yes. But the contemporary IT realm is so fast-paced and unstable that you can’t always count on it. This volatility is especially noticeable in the domain of startups, where the development process is extra agile with fast and furious product iterations aimed at winning over more users and attracting more funding. Even high-profile specialists that lack flexibility and adaptability may find it hard to keep pace in this break-neck race and deliver an adequate result.

To make sure the person you set your eyes on is going to weather this ordeal, you should specify from the outset that you are looking for a UXer with a startup skillset who can work in stressful conditions with shifting or unclear goals and short deadlines. When they have an experience with startups on their qualifications roster and feel enthusiastic about trying new things, consider them a shoo-in for joining your team. 

Drawing a Bottomline

The high demand for digital products triggers severe competition in the IT realm, where business success is largely conditioned by the comfortable user experience a solution provides. That is why it is vital to have a first-rate UXer among your company staff to involve them in all stages of project development, starting from ideation and discovery down to support and maintenance. 

We at UXBee have top-notch talent with solid experience in this niche who can join your team on short notice and contribute to the ultimate triumph of a project of any scope and complexity. Contact us to get a CV of available UX designers.