Here are seven tips to evaluate UX designers
Critiquing user experience design portfolios accurately can be a challenge. It’s tough to know what is appropriate design for a given project, tough to isolate a persons exact role and contribution, and even more difficult if you are evaluating the work of design leaders.
To help evaluate a UI designers, UX designers and visual designers effectively I find that an objective criteria is very helpful. Here are seven tips we use to help take away the guesswork.
1. First, clarify their real role
A person called a “UX designer” may actually be many different things. I had the opportunity to collaborate on research with professor Yujin Kim and professor Kyung-Won Chung at KAIST in South Korea, and we identified four distinct roles or types of UX designers. I found this very interesting. The different roles include:
– Form Giver – focused on visualizing the ‘look and feel’ of an app or site and evoking user emotion as a more traditional type of designer.
– Solution Provider – focused on materializing new service solutions using the latest visual script languages by connecting other designers’ dynamic design concepts with the developers’ programming.
– Concept Generator – focused on building competitive brand images by creating unique brand experiences using interactive digital story-telling techniques.
– Service Provider – focused on suggesting innovative services or user experiences, and then initiating new service development process or coordinating the whole process.
What type of UX designer are you evaluating?
2. Dig into process flexibility
It’s not just good design that matters, it’s how well it can be developed and executed, and that takes process flexibility and adaptability. So ask about experience working in Agile, Scrum, Sprint, Waterfall, etc. Learning about design process can help you understand the person better – how flexible they are, and also a team player or more of a soloist. Processes like Agile and Scrum and design Sprints are a flexible, holistic, and collaborative where product development team works as a unit to reach a common goal, opposed to a Waterfall or traditional sequential approach. This takes a certain ability of engagement, where teams to self-organize and collaborate, and can tell you much about a persons work style.
3. Evaluate specific UX design skills
There are many aspects of UX design, and you can evaluate the person on their competency with a little “skill bar” slider from beginner to expert. How would you, and the candidate, rate their skills on:
– Information architecture
– Interaction Design
– Visual Design
– Motion Design
– Project management
– UI Development
– User Research
It’s not that anyone should do it all, but you’re seeking to understand competency maturity in each area.
4. What are their technical, personal and team skills?
We like to break skills down into three buckets: technical, personal and team. In technical areas look for evidence of skills in HTML, CSS, Java, Apex, Visualforce, etc., as well as usability research, eye tracking, expert review, etc. And do they have patents?
In addition to technical skills, probe into user-centered work in design research and design thinking, and try to explore skills in not only design but visual and verbal communication, strategy and storytelling. Equally important are the soft skills such as collaboration, thought leadership, knowledge sharing, optimism and resourcefulness. Design is a team sport, and it takes a breadth of personal competencies to play effectively.
5. Ask, “What was your exact contribution on the project?”
Sometimes people over state their involvement in a project – so be sure to probe with direct questions. “What exactly did you do on this part of the project?”
6. Inquire about the customer journey
User experience design is relevant across the entire customer journey. Ask what is the candidates role in evaluating the experience journey and what methods and tools are they applying? Look for details around customer experience maps, front stage/back stage analysis, personas and paired personas, service blueprints, and integration with brand and other media.
For that matter, just ask “Who is the customer?” This helps you to see the candidates true colors; if they can articulate the target persona in detail, they are designing for someone, but if they can’t, they may be designing for themselves. The last thing you should want is a solution looking for a problem.
7. Finally, ask “What’s the problem?”
Finally, how can you evaluate a design if you don’t know what the problem is to solve? Just straight up ask, “Why did you design this way?” What you’re trying to discover is if the person can not only create but also present and defend their work well. While you’re there, ask about the design brief, in fact, ask to see the brief. Then, you can decide if the work meets the stated objectives. And if there is no brief, it may indicate lack of discipline.
Using defined criteria and disciplined approach in evaluating UX design talent, for vetting candidates, or for evaluating staff in performance assessments can be very helpful. The goal being, complement subjectivity with objectivity. Similarly, here are seven tips for evaluating product design portfolios.