By now you’ve probably realised that your team needs a User Experience (UX) designer. Maybe you also need a User Interface (UI) designer… oh, and a graphic designer… and a front end developer! Why not just find someone who does it all?! Wrong. Here are five painfully common mistakes to avoid when hiring a UXer.

1. Hiring a Hybrid Designer

Although it’s super tempting to kill two (or five) birds with one stone by hiring a ‘jack of all trades,’ this could be counter-productive or even detrimental to the success of your company. Unless you’re a 5-person Startup, avoid posting a job ad for a UI/UX Designer/Developer/Marketer/Unicorn and opt for someone who confidently identifies as a pure UXer. Sure, everyone has complimentary skills – but when spread thin across a wide range of disciplines (or even just UI/UX) expect a slow and watered-down result as I’m a strong believer in the whole “jack of all trades – a master of none.”

Be clear about what you’re looking for in a designer. 9 times out of 10 you’ll wind up with someone who’s a pro at one of the things you’ve advertised and just ‘dabbles’ in what you’re really after. User experience design isn’t easy or quick, so save yourself a lot of time and money and hire a specialist in the area.

2. Confusing UI and UX Design

Although UI and UX are different areas of expertise, people often do both in their daily roles. Distinguishing the difference between them is important, so do your research and ensure you know who you’re looking for and why.

I like the way Rahul Varshney, Co-creator of Foster.fm puts it:
User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.

Appreciating UX and UI for what they are and how they integrate with one another is vital when advertising for and hiring the right designer. Whilst most projects need both, be sure about what part your UXer will play in the design/research process and how they’ll fit into the team.

3. Judging a portfolio’s UI not UX

Don’t expect every UX designer to have kick-arse UI skills, or vice versa. Although, strong UI design skills can make a portfolio look a lot more appealing, read about their contribution to the project and the UX processes behind the end product.

A good UX portfolio will feature carefully picked case studies that include the following:

  • A clearly framed problem
  • Initial research findings
  • Sketches/wireframes
  • User testing insights
  • The final designs
  • Reflection on how the solution performed once it was launched.

In most cases, less is more. So don’t assume that someone with only 3-5 examples of work in their portfolio is less experienced than someone with 10-20. A good UXer will tailer the user experience of their job application by intentionally feature a few of their best case studies rather than overwhelm the user with a ton of mediocre ones.

4. Expecting a fast turnaround time

Even though you may be hiring someone with a decade of experience in UX, it’s unrealistic to expect results in a short period of time. Great UX design involves using scientific theory to improve user satisfaction that eventually converts to actual customers.

If your primary goal is to pump out your project as fast as possible, it’s likely you’re too deep into the process and should have hired a UXer sooner. Your best option here would be to delay your launch date – introduce a UX designer ASAP and go through as many rounds of testing and refinements as needed to produce the best outcome for your customers.

5. Posting a boring job ad

The job ad is often the first impression of your organisation, so generating excitement around the position should be your top priority. Listing obvious requirements like ‘communication skills’ and ‘teamwork’ is bland – start with a killer job title, write with emotion when you tell your company’s story, sell the position and describe the culture and values you live by.

With many companies hiring a UX designer for the very first time, these 5 things, inevitably are not the only mistakes out there. Fingers crossed that by sharing these tips with friends and colleagues your next task in recruiting (or being recruited!) will be a lot smoother!

Other handy resources:
To help you out with hiring the right UX Designer for the job, Craig from Usertesting.com has created The UX Designer Hiring Handbook.