How to choose a UI or UX design partner


Today, a company creates prophecy when it chooses a User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design partner. They will decide how your company will meet the users and thus, have in their hands how well your company can reign amidst competitors. In an interesting mid-August piece on User Experience , Deanna Laufer of Forrester Research remarked that reaching a success of multi-billion in the world of mobile apps (like Uber and Dropbox) necessitates an impeccable customer experience (CX) built through customized skills and resources.

Differences between User Experience and User Interface

Before your company embarks on the road to find an ideal UI or UX design partner, it is important to understand the differences between both and in what ways the design partner must be capable to cater to the respective needs.

User Experience:

User Experience Design (UXD) focuses on the quality of experience that a customer undergoes in relating with the application. Thus, the main objective is to increase the satisfaction of the customers and gain their loyalty by improvising the utilization and accessibility of the application. However, since the application is the main source of contact at the receiving the company, the user is ultimately interacting with the company as a whole. A User Experience Designer has an umbrella skill set ranging from Strategy and Content domain including Customer Analytics, Content Development and Management, Wireframing and Prototyping like Archetype-creation, Progress Planning and Testing to Implementation and Analytics like time-lining goals and coordinating tasks with developers and UI designers.

User Interface:

A User Interface designer works on the appearance of the application including user story-line and design research, works as an interaction-meter focusing on animation and responsiveness as well as the app’s adaptation in different devices.
The blurry line between UX and UI reaches heights when they are pushed to two different categories. While UX focuses on the usability of the application, UI is the visual kin of the user experience. Consider UX to be the personality of a person while UI could be the body language and outfit of a person.

Choosing an Optimal UI or UX Design Partner

What are you looking for?

The instinct in answering any question regarding the app is generally to point towards the “visual feel”. This is only the trunk of the problem- you have to dig into the roots. What is it through the improvisation of the visual feel you intend to fulfil? The list could begin from increased user adoption, lower expenditure on training and support to actualizing customer-orientation User Interfaces. While all your design partners will claim to ace the visual feel, you will now be looking for the one which can exactly cater to these needs. An optimal User Experience partner will begin with the questions: “What are the intended aims with your product and business? How do you see the User Experience helping in this aim? What is your selection criteria for the partner?”

Look For Expertise

The User Interface design partner will be the architect to your business and product, thus determining the structure of interface and strategy of navigation. The partner must have expertise in the following fields:
 Product Branding,
 Context Analysis,
 Product Pathway,
 Business Process and Rules,
 Corporate and Product Scheme.

The visual feel is only the starting point of designing and an ideal User Experience designer must be adept in the following core skills : research methods, user-interpretation (user expectations, stimulants), user modelling (profile creation and role-playing), product design (product-level interaction), interaction design (functional interaction), interface design (components interaction) and information design (content development and exhibition). This is coupled with a series of other intersubjective tools like listening and effective writing, thought structuring and client mediation. When looking for the User Experience design partner, go through the past work of the members and compare the level of competencies in them.

Their Past Work

Ask the companies to provide three to four client references. Mail them to gauge the professional and interactional skills of the companies. Make sure you find out responses received during budgetary issues and revision demands . By flipping through their past work, you get beyond the technical aspect and also get a chance to weigh the interpersonal resources of the team: time management, visual interaction, client mediation, application of consumer psychology and handling of conflicting ideas. This will allow you to get a holistic picture of the potential design partner.

Are they up-to-date?

The UX design partner must be capable of working across many devices and be able to produce stimulating designs. With the field of User Experience gradually expanding, tools are being created to bring under one roof the entire service-counter. This is done through pieces like Customer Experience Mapping and others. The UX design partner must be ready to use different tools to reply to varying needs of the situation. One of the best ways to screen between competitors is to propose a Swift Prototyping project. Swift Prototyping (SP) is the method of evaluating a design and improvising it in a short span of time. SP is generally done through a neat paper prototype or coded one, depending on the time-duration and the type of work under evaluation. While there is always a possibility that companies might recruit their best staff for this initial screening and then switch to the trainees later, you can legally seal the role of the participants prior to the Prototyping.

Have you decided on how to select your UI or UX design partners? Leave your comments here.

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Author : Sahana Rajan Date : 01 Oct 2015