Dupla, like many agencies and studios around the world, moves fluidly between working with small organizations and large corporations. Recently, we have started getting requests for advice from organizations that have tried to bring user experience work in house. Usually, those conversations occur after the organization has already made one or more bad hiring decisions. Invariably they found out that hiring the right user experience professional is much harder than asking about experience and skills.

With this post we aim to help you avoid the trial-and-error method of finding the right UX professional for your organization’s needs. There are two things that we see organizations fail at when they’re trying to find the right UX person.


Tool skills and deliverables are not discriminating

While the design process changes slightly from product to product and organization to organization, user experience deliverables are very similar at all levels of design. Most job descriptions we encounter are heavy on tool skills and deliverables. Both of those metrics are imperfect methods of identifying the right professional for a UX role.

Very early in their career, UX professionals produce many of the same deliverables that they deliver throughout their careers. Prototypes, wireframes, workflows, mock-ups, scenarios and personas/profiles etc. are deliverables that most UX professionals are ready to provide right out of the gate. Certainly, as you’d expect, quality changes with experience as does the speed at which deliverables can be created. However, the type and number of deliverables required to ship a product is almost a constant.

These days while looking for UX professional to hire, we consider not what they can create with which tools (tools always change), but rather how they create their work.

When looking for your next UX professional, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does their portfolio show process improvements?
  • Are they self-critical of their work?
  • How do they engage with the rest of the product team?

Finding the right person for a role depends not only on what they create but equally, if not more, on how they create it.

We call it experience maturity.


Time and experience are not the same things

Time in the discipline can correlate to experience and experience can correlate to maturity. However, many organizations equate time and experience, which is a fallacy. In any organization, people have specific roles to fulfill in order for a product to ship successfully. In many cases the organization does not need, nor can the project support, having too many senior professionals. We are not just talking the old adage that “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”. This isn’t just about the struggle of getting a lot of highly effective people to agree on a course of action, which can be challenging.

In any discipline, there are some activities which just take time. For example, creating wireframes take time, but once the UX scenarios are created, they are more about ensuring the screens have the required components. Creating the “voice” of a product is more ambiguous and requires more experience maturity as it requires broader thinking and analysis of disparate data.

Junior professionals are perfect to do the low level, although not broadly impactful, work. It’s essential and it needs to be done well and with purpose. Additionally, junior people need to stay in these roles for a time to master their craft. They may even have several title changes, but that may not be related to how much of their discipline they have actually mastered. That doesn’t mean that they’re getting much experience maturity.

Seniority to us is more about the amount of the discipline a person has experienced and we think their experience maturity is a better measure of their capability.

When deciding on the right UX professional it is important to know your product needs beyond just the immediate deliverables. Being able to know whether there is room in your organization for the UX professional to grow and having a plan for how they will grow is just as important. If you do that prep work before you start your hunt, you are much more likely to find the right person now and keep them longer.

If you are struggling with finding the right UX pros and these tips are not helping you, let us know. We always want to improve our processes.


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