May 9, 2021

What to consider when hiring a User Experience Consultant

What to expect and why it matters


A positive user experience is the best way to ensure that users keep coming back to your app or website while a negative user experience can be the kiss of death to future relationships with users. Ignoring user experience (UX) will have repercussions that you can’t predict or afford.

A user experience solution that worked five years ago, or even five months ago, may well be obsolete today. As technology evolves, so do the possibilities and many different ways to engage with users.

For these reasons, companies hire UX consultants. You have many choices in who to hire to help, with freelancers and agencies both being good options. 

But what exactly is a UX consultant's role? How much do they cost? And what can you expect when you hire one?

We break down the questions to these answers here.

What can I expect from an expert?

A UX Consultant looks at everything from the big picture of the user experience down to the individual spacing of the user interface (UI) elements.

A good UX consultant conducts extensive research that internal teams may not have the bandwidth to handle. They test how UX impacts your business model. If you’re planning a large-scale transformation or innovation they can assist you in working out potential UX issues before any coding begins.

Necessary skills every user experience consultant should have

Research

The ability to plan, conduct and analyze findings through different research methods.

Information Architecture

Know how to organize information in an understandable manner and be able to visualize it through diagrams that help inform teams.

Wireframing

Wireframes define the elements that need to be present on the page through a grayscale arrangement of boxes and lines. 

Prototyping

Prototypes inform everyone on the proposed screens before development begins. Prototypes allow designers to test functionality and to get valuable feedback.

Visual Communication

UX designers need to be skilled in visual language. Visual communication includes an understanding of concepts that include:


Soft Skills for UX Designers

UX designers must have soft skills that include qualities such as self-awareness and adaptability.

Curiosity

UX professionals who are inquisitive have the ability to better engage with their clients and develop more thought-out products.

Empathy

The ability to understand and feel the emotions of the user leads to a more positive customer experience.

Communication

Designers must convey their ideas and be able to explain the thinking behind their designs. They need to know how to work with development teams and product owners. 

Collaboration

Good UX design means incorporating the ideas of users, clients, developers and stakeholders. They should be able to both give and receive feedback.


How much will it cost?

Most UX consultants get paid by the hour. The hourly rate will vary depending on their level of experience, skills, and location. You will find that the hourly rate for a UX consultant can fall anywhere within a range of about $40 an hour to as much as $300 an hour.

The rates on the top end will likely come from UX experts who have worked with well-known company names like Apple, Amex, Facebook, PayPal, Google, Amazon, or other big tech names. Rates on the lower end of the spectrum are generally from those with less experience on bigger projects with more moving parts.


What should I look for when hiring?

When hiring a UX consultant, the first step is identifying what you need. Do you want to test your business model? Or maybe you need someone to help you innovate a new product? These requirements will dictate the qualities and experience of the UX consultant you hire. 

Take a look at their previous work. Request case studies from agencies.

Good UX consultants will show empathy, strategic thinking, and speak for the end-user. One recommendation would be to ask for a small audit on a project or service. Let them show you what they’re capable of on an actual project.

Why should I hire a UX Consultant or team?

There are many reasons you might decide to hire an outside team or consultant for UX. Here are a few of them.


If you're considering hiring a freelancer or a UX agency make sure to ask about recent projects and what was the measure of success. Both parties should have clear expectations with milestones in place.

If you're ready to better the user experience for your app, website, or other digital product a UX consultant may be one of the best investments you can make for your business.


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