Web designers are an essential part of building appealing websites and applications that provide satisfying user experiences. Part of their job is building an effective interface and user experience. While many designers are generalists, UI/UX is a deep and complex field that often calls for a specialist. Today we’re going to be going over what these designers actually do, and how you can find the best fit for your company.
Defining UX Design and UI Design
User experience (UX) design is everywhere around us; almost everything manmade has been designed by someone with a specific experience in mind. When we talk about UX in web design, we talk about understanding how users actually interact with a particular site, and how we can build or modify to better meet our specific goals. A common example of excellent UX design is the alert Gmail gives you when sharing Google drive attachments. This allows the user to change the access settings of the doc (there’s no point in sending an attachment if the recipient can’t access it!), which helps to create a user experience that has less errors and is overall more efficient. UX isn’t just alerts though: it’s layout, it’s colour choice, it’s typefaces and menus and conversion pipelines and more.
User Interface (UI) design is a process within web development where the actual interface is created—the UX is movement, and the UI is the structure that facilitates it.
UI designers will focus on such aspects as functionality, features, accessibility and aesthetic. All of these aspects should address the following:
- Why the user wants to use this service or product
- What the user can do with this service or product
- How the product or service can provide the solution to their ‘Why’
User interface design focuses on all the small details of an interface to ensure a fluid user interaction.
To put the difference simply: UX designers create the paths users take through a site, while UI design create the structure of a user interface. Think about it this way: if building a UI is like building a road, then UX is like urban planning. They’re different fields, but tightly connected: one builds the physical structures underpinning the other.
What are the Tasks of UI/UX Designer?
So, we’ve explained the difference between a UX designer and UI designer. Does that mean you can only hire or employ one of them? Well, different companies will do things differently; some will want a UI/UX designer while others will create separate roles for both UI and UX. Because UI is part of the UX design process, a good UX designer can do both and is able to work under the title ‘UX/UI Designer.’ Larger companies may prefer to split up the responsibilities of UX and UI design among multiple designers to maintain quality and reduce an overloaded individual workloads. Below we’ll breakdown the expected tasks and knowledge of a UX/UI designer:
- Researching user problems and potential solutions
- Understanding interaction models
- Creating a smooth path between a user’s activity and their discovery of solutions
- Creating web design solutions while ensuring a user’s comfortability with the product
- Brainstorming web design ideas using sitemaps and storyboards
- Designing and developing website mockups and interfaces
- Constructing interface features such as: buttons, menus, categories, search fields
- Testing and troubleshooting design issues
- Designing website layout
- Ensuring the business mission is instilled within the design
- Providing regular updates to (or coordinating the design process with) the rest of the design or development team
UX/UI Designer Skills
- Expertise with designer programs such as: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InVision and Sketch
- Knowledgeable in frontend markup languages such as HTML, CSS and XML
- Depending on platform, mobile-specific languages like Kotlin may be necessary
- Will be up to date with the latest content management systems and eCommerce platforms
- Knowledgeable with the best current UX/UI design practices for search engine optimization (SEO)
- Well developed communication skills to understand a client’s vision and feedback, and to provide clear suggestions
Finding Quality UI/UX Designers
We’ve covered all of the skills that a UI/UX designer needs, now we need to discover how to find one that has all of them. The demand for UI/UX designers is high, but no matter where you are in the world, you should be able to find one. However, many business owners opt to hire from web design companies or freelancing websites for a variety of reasons:
- More affordable hiring options (especially when hiring multiple designers or other experts)
- Acquire niche design skills
- Acquire more developed design skills than what they can find locally
- Skip the cost of an in-house hiring process
- UX/UI design services are only needed temporarily
- Project start is quicker
Cost is probably the biggest influence for hiring offshore designers. But consider, if you can access more experienced UX/UI designers at a lesser cost than what you would find locally, why wouldn’t you?
Let’s go a bit deeper into decision making during hiring by discussing the two most popular options: either hiring UX/UI designers from a web design company or hiring UX/UI design freelancers.
Hiring UX/UI Design Freelancers
When hiring UX/UI designers,it’s important you base your decision on your project requirements! When is hiring a freelancer a suitable choice? Here’s when:
Short Hiring Period
You may want to hire a UX/UI freelancer if you only require their services for a short period of time. Freelancers are great at providing work fast at an affordable hourly rate and are often the solution when you are working with tight deadlines. The negative here is that with limited time, it’s less likely you’ll receive design work that you’re 100% satisfied with. Freelancers have little control over the final product in this scenario—their role is to design exactly what you tell them and do it fast!
Require Niche UX/UI Design Skills
The other reason you’ll be looking for a freelancer is if your project requires a niche skill that only a few developers will have. This might be experience with the language of a certain application, or with a design tool or eCommerce platform. Whatever this particular skill is, it’s hard to find, so you need to pay for it! Perhaps, before deciding this is what has to be done, consider whether your project requirements can be changed to give you access to a larger pool of developers.
Hiring UX/UI Designers: Web Design Companies
This is the most popular option, mainly because it can be easier to gauge designer expertise and is generally more secure, but it remains cost-effective.
The Main Difference: Quality Assurance
The main difference with a web design company is that you’re more likely to gain an accurate and satisfying end project. Web design companies provide regular working hours, so you know when you can discuss your project with designers to provide feedback, suggest changes and receive suggestions from themselves. Global design companies may have designers in multiple countries, so you always have someone to talk to, no matter your timezone. Large design companies will also have project managers, testers and other experts to speed up design work while maintaining high quality standards.
Long Term Potential
Web design companies are comfortable entering long-term working relationships, giving you plenty of time to develop a productive working relationship. The longer they have to understand a client’s mission, the more accurate their work becomes. Even after initial project completion you may find you want to start a new project or want new changes. In this case it’s really easy to begin work again with designers you already trust and can immediately slip back into the same pattern of communication.
Cost-Effective Hiring Packages
With web design companies you are likely to have different hiring packages to choose from, which suit different project requirements. These allow you to gain more designers or other forms of relevant development expertise within a cost-efficient monthly plan. With such packages you can increase or decrease the number of developers you require depending on your current design requirements—ensuring you’re always getting the most value.
Popular Web Design Companies for Offshore Hiring
1. Red Turtle
Red Turtle have offices in India and the US. They are experienced in creating responsive custom web designs and have 12+ years of experience doing so. They are popular for a range of services, though they don’t specialise in UI/UX and you may have to request to see their portfolio.
CodeClouds are a web development company whose UX/UI design services extend to India, the US, Australia and New Zealand. With a decades worth of experience they truly understand the benefits of hiring a professional web designer. Their cost-effective packages and creative expertise that extends globally, makes them a popular choice for projects of any scale.
Whether your project only requires a UX/UI designer or a mix of design and development expertise, it’s important you learn how to make the most of the time you’ve got them. To do so, read this article on managing productivity with a development company.