7 Interview Questions to Ask Any UX Design Agency
You’ve spent a lot of time and money building your business. You’ve followed the rules, done everything that you needed to do, but you keep running up against the same impenetrable wall: user experience (UX).
And what exactly is UX? In its simplest form, UX is the experience a user has when interacting with a website or application. Often, UX, user interface (UI), and usability are used interchangeably. But, they are not the same animal. Yet, they work together. You can read more about how they differ and complete one another in our article, UX, UI, and Usability - What They Are & How They Differ.
While UI and usability are crucial, UX is absolutely everything, yet seems as difficult to capture as a magical unicorn. The bottom line is you need help, so you decide to turn to a UX design agency to help you get on track, but there are so many. By the time you’ve dug through the listings of UX design agencies, you’ve probably discovered for yourself that no two are the same. Their core definitions of UX might be different and their approaches are probably nowhere near to being on the same page.
You need an agency that has similar philosophical approaches to UX and UX design, a willingness to truly understand your unique company and needs, and is ready to work as a partner.
How do you know which one’s right for you? Well, you start by asking them some questions — think of it like a job interview. To give you an idea of where to start, here are seven questions to ask a UX design agency before hiring them to make sure that they’re the best fit for your business.
Tell Me about Your Philosophical Approach to UX
It’s important to start your conversation off by asking the agency about their philosophical approach for two reasons. First, the person you’re speaking to, no matter what role they play in the agency, should have a solid understanding of their company’s mission and approach. If their answer is wishy-washy or doesn’t sound like they believe 100% in what they’re promoting, you should probably expect some problems down the road.
Secondly, and more importantly, you want to make sure that their philosophical approach aligns with yours. Do they believe in the strength of an intuitive, seamless user experience? Can you envision putting your business in their hands? If it doesn’t feel right, step back and think before you commit.
Not sold on their responses regarding their philosophical approach to UX design? Dig a little deeper with a few more questions that can help you better understand where they stand when it comes to UX and if it matches your understanding of UX:
- How do you define UX and UX design?
- Why do you believe your company’s values align with my company’s values and goals?
- Why can I put my business in your hands?
- Why do you think UX is important?
How Will You Balance Creating an Amazing UX While Keeping in Mind the Many Goals of My Business?
There are plenty of UX design agencies out there who will do the job for you. You have a problem that needs to be solved and they have the technical skills to help. But, there’s something that some agencies are missing and that’s a big picture perspective.
You aren’t going to get anywhere near reaching your goals without solid UX. The user experience is absolutely vital to your business. But, it probably isn’t your only goal. Putting all your resources into one area of your business can create an imbalance in other areas. Every part of your business needs to be working together. Is the UX design agency that you’re considering going to keep this in mind?
Get a feel for if the design agency is capable of a big picture perspective of your business. UX is only one component of multiple layers. A great agency is going to understand that, but also work with you to develop a UX that helps you reach multiple goals for your business.
If you aren’t certain that the agency truly gets your goals and your business, you might ask them a few additional questions for clarification:
- Why would you prioritize one goal over another?
- What do you think the purpose of the goals are?
- Do you think the goals are effective?
- How can the goal(s) be the basis for an amazing UX?
Can You Tell Me, Step by Step, How You Plan to Help My Business? So, What’s the Plan?
Sure, if you’re in the early “getting to know you” stage of your relationship, the design agency isn’t going to have enough information to place a final strategy in front of you. However, they should be able to look at your issues, your questions, and the overall operations of your business and give you a pretty solid idea of where they would start, what the priorities should be, and how they would plan on reaching the end goal.
Listen and look at what they’re saying. Do you see any innovative thinking and strong problem-solving skills in the mix, or are they giving you a generic, basic outline that you could have come up with on your own?
Your business is unique. Look for a UX design agency that understands and demonstrates their knowledge of this by providing some preliminary brainstorming and innovative thoughts.
The Response You Should Be Expecting
When the UX agency response, here’s what you should be expecting them to discuss:
- Product definition, which includes stakeholder interviews
- User research that includes interviews and competitive market research
- User personas that define the ideal customer or user for your product
- Customer or user journey to help understand their goals and navigation needs
- Design, which includes sketching out the layout, wireframes, or prototypes
Let’s Talk About Flexibility and People Skills. Do you have a team that you value and trust?
Even the most adaptable and talented teams can be resistant to change and strangers coming into the mix. This is especially true if it’s their hard work that’s being analyzed and critiqued by the design agency.
Make sure that the agency you choose is going to respect your team, and that they can be flexible and adaptable in their approach as they learn more about your business, and the people that work with you.
Your UX design agency should be a partner, not a know-it-all tyrant.
Can You Show Me Some Work That You’ve Already Done That’s Relevant to My Needs? Can I See Your Portfolio?
This is a no brainer. Of course, you don’t want to put something as crucial as your UX into the hands of an agency that doesn’t have the experience and talent to care for it properly.
There are some great UX agencies out there, with impressive results. Just keep in mind that those results mean nothing if they can’t be translated to your business. Have them show you what they’ve done, but also ask them how their previous work is relevant to the current needs of your business.
What Are The Current Trends
You want a UX design agency that understands new and upcoming trends. It shows that they’re continuing to evolve as technology evolves. It also shows their level of knowledge and passion when it comes to all things UX. Let them tell you about new trends and why they are or are not on board with them and what those trends mean for your unique company and needs.
What Can You Tell Me About UX That I Might Not Know?
The whole point of hiring a UX design agency is to have someone with exceptional talent and foresight in the UX industry come in with a fresh perspective on what can be improved.
You aren’t looking for a list of flat solutions you could have Googled for yourself and had a member of your team take care of.
Instead, you want new ideas, innovative thinking and quite frankly, to be wowed by their talent and intuition. Ask them to tell you just one thing about UX solutions that you probably don’t know. Bonus points if it relates directly to your business.
As discussed in UX, UI, and Usability - What They Are & How They Differ, “UX is the sum total of the experience that users have. It’s the emotional result after having used your website or app.” The focus is on digital interaction, but includes design elements that help with your branding, ease of use, and functionality. When understanding how a UX design agency can help with your specific product (website or app), it’s important to understand some basics about UX, such as how it can :
- Enhance the user’s experience
- Solidify your branding
- Improve overall functionality and efficiency
- Ensure the user interface (UI) works seamlessly with the rest of the experience
What Questions Do You Need Answers to Before We Can Begin?
Finally, we end with this question because it tells you that the UX design agency understands your needs. The best agency will make sure that no stone goes unturned, and that no question goes unasked. Honestly, you shouldn’t even need to provoke them with this question because they should already be asking it.
Regardless, a solid design agency should immediately be able to come up with questions for you based on what they already know, and they should be eager to learn more to help you with powerful solutions.
How Long Will The Process Take?
It’s important to discuss the timeline of your project upfront, especially if you have hard deadlines that need to be met. Will the UX design agency be able to hit those deadlines for you? How will they prioritize one deadline over another?
How Many Revisions Will We Go Through?
Once you have an idea of how long the process will take, it’s also important to ask about revisions. To prevent a project from ambling along endlessly, most UX design agencies will set parameters around the number of revisions a project will go through. But, be sure you understand why they set out the number they indicate. You don’t want the project to linger, but you also need to feel confident that you’ll get the results you’re looking for. So, to save yourself from any surprises, ask this question upfront before the project begins.
Ready To Interview Your UX Design Agency?
Hiring a UX design agency is a big step for any company. You’re putting your website or app in their hands and you must feel confident that they’ll have your company’s best interest in mind. You need an agency that has experience, that understands your company’s needs and specific goals, and that is always staying current with new trends and best practices.
Think of hiring a UX design agency like hiring an employee. You want someone who meshes well with your company’s values and ideals. You want someone who’s ready to work diligently and efficiently. You’ll be working closely with the UX design team you hire, so make certain they’re a good fit from the start.
Abdul has helped over 40 Fortune 500 companies make informed user-centered design decisions through evidence-based user research and UX best practices. As an Adjunct Professor, Abdul has taught in DePaul University’s graduate UX programs and for nine other universities.