2021/08/05

When You Need A UX Consultant? [Cost, Duties, Hiring]

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UX Consultant Overview

About UX Consultant. Product and service user experience is quickly becoming one of the most critical parts of any organization. UX design must be supplemented by big picture thinking, systems thinking, business analysis, and even change management to fully use the potential of UX to produce sustainable business performance.

Imagine: you’ve made your beloved vision of a website a reality, your product works well from the technical point of view, but there are not many clients yet. One explanation is because your product provides a bad experience so that visitors are just not happy. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you should seek expert assistance in user experience design. In this article, we’ll go over the advantages of UX consulting services as well as how to choose a trustworthy partner. 

What’s the difference between a UX consultant and other UX designers?

To further grasp the difference between a UX consultant and a UX designer, let’s examine their key roles, responsibilities and their backgrounds.

The same person in smaller organizations typically fills the position of a UX consultant and a UX designer. As a general rule, it is good to keep roles separate.

Who is a UX designer?

The design of products that give meaningful, relevant experiences to users is referred to as user experience (UX) design. When it comes to creating user-friendly apps, software, and websites, UX designers collaborate with UI designers and developers.

When it comes to creating a quality user experience, an easy-to-navigate interface is crucial, but when it comes to creating an excellent UX design, everything from design to usability and function must be considered.

In contrast to the UX consultant, who only carries out research throughout the development stages, the UX designer is active in every stage of development, from performing user research and testing new features. Additionally, the designer creates wireframes and the overall task flow based on the end-users specific needs.

UX designers frequently get hired in the earliest phases of product development for businesses. However, designers may intervene if flaws are discovered in the testing process.

What does a UX consultant do?

A UX designer may help fix issues that have already been identified, but typically a UX consultant is recruited to locate the problem and then address it. UX consultants may also help to improve the user experience by locating new possibilities.

Consultants are rarely actively engaged in the design of user interfaces for applications and software. They provide essential information and comments depending on the company’s particular needs. This implies that the UX consultant’s job changes based on the project.

You may, for example, employ a UX consultant to review a product that has already been released. Alternatively, consultants can give valuable UX research at the start of the product development process.

A UX consultant is concerned with an organization’s whole ecosystem and its users’ overall experience. Traditional UX design generally needs both design and specific knowledge.

UX consultants contribute business analysis and design to the process. A UX designer considers a UX problem a design issue, whereas a UX consultant considers a UX problem a business problem surface. A UX designer solves the UX challenge of designing a product or service, whereas a UX consultant addresses the UX challenge of solving a business issue. UX Design is used by a UX Consultant to investigate the business problem, and it generates crucial insights that can address complex business issues. 

Companies generally involve UX consultants to acquire new knowledge and experience.

At Northell, we often advise startups and big companies as well on how better to develop their products

We help companies build design processes right and teach their teams. Based on our experience, we share the best practices, methods and tools with UX teams.

For most companies, it is more profitable to hire a consultant than to outsource product work to a design team.

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  Top Myths about User Experience Consultants

Naturally, numerous worries and misconceptions (myths) exist about what it means to hire an outside user experience consultant to do UX research and/or design strategy. Here are the main concerns.

“My user experience team will be alarmed.” When the UX team isn’t involved in recruiting an external UX consultant in the first place, these feelings might arise. You’re already in the driver’s seat if you’re a UX director making this decision. If you’re a VP of Marketing, Product, or another related area, though, keeping in touch with your UX lead is critical. An external UX consultant should be considered an addition to your UX team rather than a replacement.

“It’s too costly.” According to Forrester, UX work has a very high return on investment (ROI). Instead of wasting time and money designing and developing a product only to discover later that customers are unhappy with it, it’s much less expensive (and thus less risky) to conduct preliminary research, test products and services, iterate with end-users, and identify strategic opportunities for meeting customers’ unmet needs upfront. Furthermore, what appears to be a large, costly design research project can usually be split down into smaller parts to fit a company’s budget and timetable.

“UX consultants must solve all the problems.” When hiring a UX consultant, you must understand that he/she will not solve all the problems you may have during product development. A UX consultant will help you understand the root causes of the issues, help guide you on the right path, and advise on what to apply and use during product development.

Key issues that a UX consultant should solve

UX consulting is based on professional guidance from an expert in the subject. A UX consultant can address challenges you don’t have the time, money, or skill to address based on their knowledge and expertise.

The work of a UX consultant is divided into four stages:

  • Primarily research – this stage entails speaking with the project team to learn about their goals, defining the target audience, and obtaining any additional requirements for the solution they build.
  • Users – using information from developers, user interviews, surveys, and other sources, the UX consultant will assist in creating customer personas and journey maps for your web product.
  • Structure – the consultant will create page outlines, site maps, and wireframes at this stage, interacting with developers and stakeholders to ensure that they are working on a solution that meets the user’s expectations.
  • Branding – working with the marketing team to ensure that your brand identity is consistent throughout all of your resources. This helps develop guidelines for developers and designers, ensuring that your customers do not miss any messages you send.

Startups and Small Business

For startups and small businesses, it is vital to involve user experience consultants during product development. Your product should satisfy users 100%, so the development process should be structured, clear and without unnecessary actions. UX consultant will be a fantastic assistant at all stages of your future product development. 

Startups and small businesses can hire UX consultants to teach their teams. Typically, in small companies and especially in startups, designers may not be experienced enough, so a consultant can advise on how to improve their knowledge, for example, what literature to read, what methods and tools are better to use, etc.   

Medium-sized business

Medium-sized businesses very often turn to design firms for advice. Usually, user experience consultants’ work helps speed up the growth of user engagement, as well as improve the level of onboarding. Moreover, you will get an outside view of your project if you hire a UX consultant so that you won’t be blinded by tunnel vision.

Enterprise-level

Today, large companies need fresh consultants as never before. Clients of large organizations expect that the product they will use will be first-class and will fully meet their expectations. Here UX consultants help a lot. They’ll perform user research to identify possible difficulties and possibilities for you to take advantage of.

They may also help you develop a user experience strategy to use when researching, creating and testing your product. The UX consultant may also help you implement this plan by advising you on best practices. 

The main advantage of working with a UX consultant is getting a new perspective on your project. Teams are usually quite experienced and knowledgeable in large organizations, but you always need a fresh perspective. UX consultants can provide that for you. 

How to distinguish a good UX consultant from a bad one? (CheckList)

Choosing a good user experience consultant is not an easy task, but we will help you figure out how to distinguish a person who knows his business from one who has no idea how to do his job.

First, besides the fact that UX consulting experts are not very cheap, they usually work in 3 areas:

  1. Experience exchange. For example, it can be workshops and meetings with a team where you can get advice about your product. You can also ask any questions you are interested in and the user experience consultant will answer them without any problems.
  2. Audit. UX consultants will conduct a comprehensive analysis of your product, evaluate it and provide a list of problems that need to be solved. 
  3. Roadmap. The consultant will provide you with a special document describing the important steps and processes that you must watch out for during product development. In fact, this will be the path that your team should follow to achieve an excellent result.

Being experts in UX consulting, the Northell team decided to create a checklist that will help you distinguish a good UX consultant from a bad one. 

✔️  A good consultant will never only point out the problem. He/she will also help you solve it by suggesting several options and explain why this is a problem. 

✔️  A good consultant will never criticize the team and the resources it uses. He/she can give advice, teach and show, but not point out the team’s shortcomings.

✔️  A good consultant can prove that he/she required specialization, whether via references, testimonials, case studies, or publicly available content. 

✔️  A good consultant has excellent verbal and written communication skills. 

✔️  A good consultant has creative and innovative talents, which come through clearly in pre-proposal discussions. 

How should you work with a UX consultant? Tips in communication

Let’s look at how to build a strong working relationship with user experience consultants and how to get the most out of them for you, your team, and your company.

Here are some essential steps you should follow to succeed:

  • Create a healthy balance in your relationship. Consultants require a distinct management style than freelancers, contractors, or permanent employees. It’s crucial to achieve the proper balance: user experience consultants must be directed appropriately, but you risk straining your relationship with them and reducing their productivity if you try to exert too much control.
  • Make the role clear. Ensure that everyone participating in the project or task, including the consultant herself/himself, understands why the consultant was recruited. Give her/him copies of the company’s mission and vision statements, as well as other important documents, so she/he can understand the broader picture. She also has to be aware of underlying concerns that may not be publicly acknowledged. Could office politics, for example, have an impact on her/his project? And who are the main stakeholders she/he has to be aware of?
  • Establish a course of action. Consultants require measurable goals, so work with them to develop SMART goals. These not only help you understand what you’re looking for, but they also allow you to track their growth and performance.
  • Give feedback. Like other members of your team, Consultants want feedback on their performance so that they can understand what they’re doing well and where they need to improve.
  • Get them up and running as soon as possible. Consider how stressful it may be to start a new job. Every time a consultant starts a new project, they go through this process. Therefore they should be adept at “getting up to speed.” While they won’t require as much onboarding as new employees, you should still assist them in becoming familiar with the company, the team they’ll be working with, and the project they’ll be working on.

How to Hire a UX Consultant? Simple Guide

It is crucial for every company to hire a highly qualified and experienced UX design consultant. We think your organization is no exception. The Northell team has prepared a short guide on hiring a user experience consultant that will help you save time and money and find the right specialist for your organization.

#1 How to Hire UX Consultant: Define your goals / know your problems

The first step you should take in UI/UX consultant hiring is to define your company’s goals. Business goals may not need to be precise or have well-defined activities. Business goals are broad objectives that a company seeks to attain.

Setting company goals is critical for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • They provide a way of determining success.
  • They ensure that all employees and user experience consultants are aware of the corporate goals.
  • They provide employees and UX consultants with a clear knowledge of how decision-making contributes to the achievement of the company’s goals.
  • They ascertain if the company is on the right path.

It is also important to identify the problems you want to deal with. If you do this right away, it will be easier for you to find a suitable UI / UX consultant who can definitely help you in this matter.

#2 How to Hire UX Consultant: Create a letter of requirements

Once you have decided on the goals of your company and the problems you want to solve, you can start writing a letter with requirements. This is necessary in order to understand who suits you and who does not clearly. 

We are confident that when hiring a user experience consultant, you will have several candidates to choose from. To not be mistaken in the choice, you must make a list of things and skills of your future consultant. 

Here are some of the valuable user experience consulting skills:

  • Thinking outside the box
  • Conceptual and practical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Clearly and emphatically communicating
  • Collaboration at all levels of the organization, as well as time management
  • Curiosity
  • Credibility

Of course, you can change them or choose the ones that are most important to you. 

#3 How to Hire UX Consultant: Start the search process

It is essential to select a sourcing channel that will immediately build trust in the potential UX consulting expert. The following are some of the most relevant source channels: 

Linkedin 

Linkedin is a professional social networking site for professionals and their customers. Companies are looking for potential employees, and talents are looking for jobs. This network is fantastic for finding user experience consultants. You can evaluate the prospective candidate’s experience, qualifications, and other job-related information in his or her profile. This network enables you to make personal contact with relevant prospects.

Freelance websites and platforms

You generally have two options if you decide to hire freelance UX consultants through freelancer websites:

  • You may post a job and then wait for responses from professionals. After that, you choose the most qualified candidates.
  • You may contact the freelancers individually. It might be a more time-consuming process. It does, however, ensure that freelancers will contact you with the appropriate abilities and expertise.

UX consulting agencies

The advantages of consulting agencies are that they already employ pre-selected candidates and the likelihood that you will work with a highly qualified user experience consultant is very high. Usually, such agencies take care of raising the level of knowledge of their consultants and doing everything to work on any project.

Ukraine is a great place to find UX consulting agencies.

Compared to other countries, the services that UX design consultants provide in Ukraine are much cheaper. Also, Ukrainian IT specialists are considered one of the best and most skilled.

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How much does a UX consultant cost?

A variety of factors determines the UX consultant’s hourly rate. Here are a few examples:

Tactical execution vs. strategy

It depends on your definition of “UX consulting.” Do you need someone to assist you with customer experience strategy? Are you looking to build a UX team or increase the efficiency of your current team? 

Location

The location of your UX consultant determines it. Your UX consultant will charge an hourly rate based on their own constraints. Because you are compensating for the UX consultant’s cost of living as well as the competitiveness of the local employment market for their talents, physical location is a major consideration.

Experience and Specific Competencies

It is measured by the level of experience of the UX consultant. A UX consultant with 10 years of experience is likely to be more expensive on an hourly basis than one who is just starting out, but a more efficient level of service should compensate for this. In this example, “experience” essentially translates to “has made many of the typical mistakes before, and will not make them on your project.”

CostAsiaEuropeUSA
<$25/hr$30-60/hr$45-90/hr

Typical problems you spend money on

Many companies often face the same mistakes when hiring a user experience consultant. Problems can range from outrageous UX design consultant salary to ignoring that the consultant is not suitable for your project.

If you don’t get serious about hiring a consultant, you can waste a lot of time and money and also not get the expected result. In order for you to build a high-quality and efficient recruitment process for a user experience consultant, our team has created this guide. If you heed the advice we described above, you will find your ideal UX consultants and create a truly valuable product with their help.

UX Consultant: Wrapping up

If your project has encountered difficulties in satisfying your users, you may apply UX consulting to identify the issues and devise an optimum approach to improve user experience. When you work with a UX consultant, you will receive expert guidance and a mentor who will help you organize and steer your team to success. 

If you are searching for a company specializing in UX/UI consultation and design, Northell can provide expertise on any issue you may face.

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