Designers like to think of their field of work as a constant game of problem-solving. Building apps and websites people like to use is, as we learned over the years, not about using the trendiest palettes and using the shiniest colors. Instead, it’s about connecting with audiences and helping to figure out how to improve visuals and solve some things.
The problem is that many designers don’t have the faintest idea of how to find solutions that make users’ lives easier. They have all the tools at their disposal, and they know how to put apps together but, when asked to come up with not just an experience but an enjoyable one, designers struggle.
When you spend your days doing things, it is common to take time away from the project to see it with an end-user’s eye. It is also natural most busy UX designers don’t have that kind of time, swept under the busy current of ongoing projects. That’s where UX/UI design consulting comes into play, fueling the creative, action-based minds of their peers with much-needed perspective and fresh thought.
In this post, we will take a look at why signing up for a website design consulting is a great idea, dissect the anatomy of the perfect professional, and give suggestions of things to ask a consultant at a job interview.
UX Designer vs UX Consultant: Aren’t They the Same?
The key difference between a UX designer and a UX consultant is that, while the former is a doer, the latter is a visionary. Teams hire UX designers to build interfaces that work and use UX consulting services to figure out what doesn’t work and offer an action plan.
Of course, there are more intricacies and differences in the mix — we highlighted the main ones in a table:
|UX Designer||UX Consultant|
|Primary options||Execution and good command of design tools||Research and analysis|
|Responsibilities||– Executing specific design tasks
– Interpreting UX data and finding ways to integrate it into interface tweaks
– Discover technical product issues.
– Reiterate and improve processes
|– Evaluating and pinpointing optimization touchpoints in the company’s product
– Brainstorming UX ideas and running a competitor analysis
– Creating a toolset for monitoring the efficiency of UX decisions
– Educating the team about the importance of UX changes
– WordPress consulting services
|Communication touchpoints||Team managers, peers||Business owners, end-users|
|Key skills||– Prototyping
– Writing UX microcopy
– Interaction design
– Front-end development (basic HTML, CSS, and JS skills)
|– Research and analysis
– Communication and mediation
– User empathy
– Strategic thinking
– Familiarity with key design processes and tools
|Average salary (according to Glassdoor)||$45/hr||$39/hr|
|Level of involvement||Full-time||Project-based|
As seen above, a UI and UX design consultant focuses on coming up with high-level ideas and concepts, whereas UX designers work to implement these ideas using their creative skills and tech tools.
Busting Top Myths About UX Consultants
There’s a lot of obscurity around UX design consulting. While some paint consultants as know-it-alls should ace both design and communications, other professionals in the field reduce UX consultants to a glorified managerial role.
It’s not surprising that the truth lies in the middle — to get one step closer to the state of things, we busted a few commonplace myths about UX consultants you’ve heard before.
|What UX Consultants DO||What UX Consultants DON’T|
|Use design knowledge to get along with the team||Need such excellent design skills to build interfaces from scratch|
|Present clients or managers with data-driven opinions and skillfully show their stance on UX ideas||Exude confidence when they walk into the room and spread enthusiasm and passion within the team (despite a widespread misconception, skilled managers don’t have to be passionate individuals)|
|Treat UX designers arrogantly, not giving them credit for their work||Treat UX designers arrogantly, not giving them credit for their work|
|Collect data that helps make thought-out decisions||Operate based on intuition and gut feeling|
|Make suggestions and recommendations regarding the project without holding a superior position to the rest of the design team||Manage designers and give orders to the team|
|Assist in maintaining and updating products for years after the first release||Jump project-to-project without seeing the product through|
The table above proves that a lot of our popular ideas about UX consultants can be myths.
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A UX consultant is more than an idea-person — instead, such a professional is a skillful analyst, a talented communicator, and someone well-versed in UX design aspects.
The Anatomy of a Perfect UX Consultant
As they are looking for a talented professional who’ll help develop innovative products and connect the dots that did not allow the team to build interfaces that resonate with users, what qualities should company managers prioritize? Although UX consultants heavily rely on soft skills, their competencies should extend far beyond communication and business-savvy.
Here’s the list of qualifications that mark an above-average UI UX consultant:
As for academic qualifications, UX consultants typically either have degrees in design or art or come from managerial and business development majors.
5 Interview Questions to Ask UX Consultants
When you are hiring a professional who will introduce your team to innovative interface ideas, it’s helpful to have a reference list of interview questions.
We put together a list of topics to cover at a job interview — these help business owners determine how skilled a candidate is in UX design consultancy.
#1. Tell us about the best and worst applications you helped design. What made them work or fail?
This question evaluates the candidate’s experience and the ability to trace back why a project succeeded or failed. It’s good if a consultant gives credit to the team without passing the blame for failed projects on peers.
Also, top-tier professionals will throw in insights when answering this question like, “As I was doing my research, I discovered that most available apps miss out on [idea name].”
#2. Which questions do you typically ask clients when starting a new project?
This question helps determine how skilled a consultant is in gathering data for project requirements and how confident a candidate is communicating. Although there’s no “right” list of questions to ask, skilled candidates often go with:
- What are your top competitors?
- What do you like/dislike about the product’s previous interface?
- Who is the product’s target audience?
- Do you have examples of interfaces you like? Would you mind sharing them?
- What are the deadlines for the project?
- How do you prefer to communicate?
What makes this mix of questions to use in the UX/UI design consultation so powerful is that it targets both large-scale project-related questions and day-to-day collaboration technicalities.
#3. Briefly describe the role of a UX consultant on the project.
Candidates need to know how they can contribute to the project. It’s good to hear a plan and a clear list of responsibilities from the candidate — for example:
“I believe that a UX consultant contributes to the project by:
- Identifying errors that are holding the company back;
- Researching user needs and suggesting interface ideas that meet these wants;
- Looking for ways to implement innovative technologies in interfaces;
- Creating a scalable long-term strategy of developing and revising interfaces”.
#4. What types of projects do you want to be involved in?
Rather than testing a candidate’s skills, this question simply validates whether the company is the right match for a professional you are interviewing.
Here, it’s good to hear consultants talk about their values and ambitions — do they prioritize a good paycheck or career growth, do they prefer a stable or a dynamic working environment, and so on.
Based on this question’s answer, business owners should prefer candidates committed to the field and eager to advance professionally.
#5. What do you like most about working as a design consultant?
This question has no “hook” on which you can catch lousy candidates. Instead, it’s a good ice-breaker that helps professionals reflect on why they chose the field and gain more appreciation for it.
There are rare cases when, no matter how vividly the candidate is describing his passion, there are no cues in a professional’s behavior to show true excitement. Such consultants can be on the brink of burnout.
UX Consultant Salary Worldwide
Onboarding a UX consultant helps business owners get a new perspective on the project and build a link between design and management teams. However, it’s understandable to be hesitant as to whether or not your team can afford to hire a UX consultant.
Before you make a decision, keep in mind that UX consultant salaries vary in different countries. Here’s the breakdown of how much these professionals make in the US, Western, and Eastern Europe.
*Rates are provided by the research done by our in-house Recruitment Team over local job boards
To summarize the finding, it’s clear there’s a salary discrepancy between professionals who live in countries with a higher cost of life — the US or Switzerland — compared to consultants based in cheaper places like Ukraine. After all, as VR UI/UX consulting grows increasingly popular, connecting with a consultant from overseas is not a huge challenge.
How to Find Skilled UX Consultants: 3 Ways to Hire Talent
There are different strategies business owners use to grab hold of skilled yet affordable talent. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a full-time UX UI consultant, working with freelancers, or reaching out to outsource design companies.
Strategy #1. Hire an in-house UX consultant
There are a few considerable benefits that come along with hiring a full-time consultant, namely:
- Higher accountability and project dedication;
- Ease of communication;
- Consistency and understanding of corporate best practices;
- On-demand availability.
However, onboarding a full-time UX consultant is challenging in its own right, particularly when it comes to:
- Providing specialists with infrastructure — tools, office spaces, equipment;
- Finding the right candidates — hiring processes are usually cumbersome and stressful;
- Salary spendings — you’ll have to sustain a UX/UI design consultant on a day-to-day basis even if you don’t have enough tasks to leverage a professional’s full value.
Strategy #2. Onboard a freelance UX consultant
As a way to save costs and reduce hiring-related stress, business owners often collaborate with freelance consultants. Let’s see which benefits it gives company managers:
- Hiring time savings;
- Wide talent pool;
- Open communication — there are fewer yes-men among freelance consultants;
- What you see is what you pay for — no maintenance fees.
Unfortunately, working with a freelance UX/UI designer consultant is not all fun and games — here are the hurdles business owners have to face in the collaboration:
- Lack of commitment and project involvement — freelance consultants, rarely feel part of the team;
- Security concerns — you need to be extremely prudent to ensure that a freelancer is not using project data to develop products in similar niches (effectively helping your competitors out);
- Finding skilled talent — there are plenty of subpar consultants among freelance professionals.
Strategy #3. Hire a design outsourcing agency
Working with an outsourcing agency is a way to reap the benefits of cost reduction and keep UX consultants committed and accountable.
Here are the benefits of choosing a UX design consulting firm:
- Saves time and money;
- Removes the burden of maintaining the team;
- Access to elaborate research and data visualization practices and technologies;
- Guaranteed project completion mediated through contract-based agreements.
As for challenges business owners face when hiring a UI UX consultant company, the following are worth mentioning:
- Vendor selection takes some time;
- Communication with an offshore vendor requires discussion beforehand.
The good news is, top-tier vendors have mechanisms for mitigating these challenges and ensuring fruitful collaborations.
Mobilunity: Reliable Design Outsourcing Vendor
Hiring a UX design consultant abroad is a smart way to save costs. The good news is you don’t have to explore distant talent markets on your own — instead, consider hiring reliable outsourcing vendors abroad.
Here are the projects our UI consultant firm worked on:
Mobilunity, for one, is an established design outsourcing service provider based in Ukraine. Our team has over 10 years of experience watching and implementing UX trends to build intuitive, easy-to-use apps and websites.
Hire a UX/UI consultant to create an easy-to-use, good-looking website — contact Mobilunity to get a professional review of your project!