Choosing a UX partner is no easy task. Like any partnership, being a good fit while working together is important. Of course the UX firm you partner with has to bring you results, but you also need a firm whose portfolio and strengths meet your project’s needs.
Deciding on the right company to team up with is a bit more than just swiping right or left on your smartphone—there are several things to consider. You can spot a good UX partner because they can’t hide their passion for creating products that matter, and that people love. They will want the work to be purposeful and engaging, and the product to make a difference in the world. Here are some questions you should ask when choosing a UX partnership:
Do they have empty heads?
Is your UX partner inquisitive? Do they pride themselves on what they don’t know? Often times, the UX process begins with discovery and knowing that you don’t know everything. Once you pinpoint the problem users are having, then you can find the solutions. This means the firm you work with should be confident enough to tell you up front that “we don’t know what we don’t know.” This can be a concerning phrase to hear from someone you’re going to for answers and expertise, but the very best UX practices know that the path to the right solution is not known until research has been done. A company that has this mindset with UX is a big plus.
Do they have full hearts?
By “full hearts”, we don’t mean warm-fuzzy feelings. Look for a UX firm who has a heart for the potential user, their needs, goals, and objectives. Being empathetic and putting yourself in the user’s shoes is imperative to finding the best solution for them. You’ll want to work with a UX firm that takes the time to get to know your users through research, right down to the actions they take and their motivation behind them. Meeting with real users to interview, observe, and test UX solutions with is essential.
Are they courageous?
When a UX firm is brought in to fix an existing problem with a product, there may be confusion and frustration within your team due to the product not performing well. The firm you decide to work with needs to be comprised of fearless problem solvers. Consider hiring a firm who enters bravely into the “danger zone” of conflict, and successfully facilitates conversations between business, engineering, marketing and product executives, all while advocating for the end user’s goals. A great UX firm will act like a glue, bringing different positions together to create a great user experience.
Can they persevere?
Making products easy to use is hard. Your goal should be to find a persistent UX team who wants to keep pushing towards the best solution. For instance, a firm that can persevere will be able to learn quickly within a complex industry, and apply UX solutions effectively within that industry. You’ll want a UX team that can persevere through the simplicity curve and quicklly become experts in your field.
Are they a large company or a small shop?
When it comes to choosing your UX partner, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Smaller UX firms are nimble; they can adapt quickly to changing milestones and priorities. Of course larger companies could offer many resources, and we’re in no way implying they care less about your product. But when you work with a smaller UX firm, know that they are hyper-focused on the best UX strategies, products, and customer experiences for their clients. They’re not just another department in the corporation.
Asking the question “how do I choose a UX firm?” means you’re already on the right path. Investing in UX now will save you money in the future. The best first step you can take? Start a conversation. Meet with a potential UX partner and provide an overview of the product being built and the challenges you’re facing. You will usually get a good idea right away if they are the right fit.