5 Questions to Ask Your Next UX Design Agency


ux design

Welcome to 5Qs, a series highlighting the must-ask questions for a successful agency search. Let’s find your next UX design agency together.

Think of all the places your customers interact with your product, either digitally or in real lifea lot, right? Everything from e-commerce sites to the retail checkout process requires attention to UX. Unless your brand has rockstar in-house UX designers, you’re going to need some help. So where do you find that great UX design agency? Agency Spotter, of course! Once you’ve built your shortlist, ask each agency these five questions to get one step closer to a UX match made in heaven.

1. What inputs do you rely on throughout your design process?

What’s the #1 factor behind any UX design worth its salt? User research. If an agency starts their answer with visual design, then that’s just design and not UX design. That agency may produce a good design that follows some UX best practices. But UX design requires talking to and observing users. Remember, it’s not UX design without user input. A simple survey won’t cut ityou want to test how your customers interact with your product, not just what they say about it. But you don’t need to test hundreds of users. Breadth of user types is more important than depth. 

Do expect to hear different answers to this question from different agencies. There is no one standardized process à la Six Sigma in UX design. But in addition to user research, here are a few other words the agency should mention: usability testing, iteration, storyboards, scenarios, information architecture. Don’t hesitate to ask clarifying questions about any of these pieces of the process. Knowledge is power!

2. How do you build and use user personas?*

Knowing the types of people who interact with your product is valuable to your entire organization, especially over the long-term. Personas are built around shared behaviors, attitudes, and motivations, factors that supersede age, gender, education, and other typical demographics. What are your users goals when visiting your website or opening your app? What factors influence their purchasing decisions? Accurate user persona inform smarter business decisions, marketing and otherwise. Prepare to win buy-in from higher ups with this comprehensive article from UX Magazine. Can’t afford user personas? Do your best with CRM data, web analytics and in-person customer interviews. The result can’t be considered a persona but it can prevent major flaws in the UX design. *Note: Not all UX design requires user personas. If an agency feels that’s true for your project, ask why.

3. Who will make up the team working on my project?

UX firms bring together designers, researchers, techies, creatives and business strategists into one neat package. You want to select an agency whose strengths and experience meet the needs of your projects. Are your UX needs more technical? Then you want a strong UX engineer. Are you trying to improve the UX of a physical retail space? Then a designer with merchandising experience would be valuable.

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Sometimes it is important for someone on the agency team to have direct experience in your industry or an adjacent one. Healthcare is an example, given the layers of regulations and stakeholders. A team member with relevant industry experience may be more prepared to give you a better UX design, faster.

UX agencies tend to either focus on one platform (i.e. mobile), one channel (i.e. e-commerce) or have the broad expertise necessary to deliver a consistent UX across a brand’s multiple platforms and channels. The answer to this question will give insight into the resources and strengths of each UX agency and how they align with your project.

4. What recommendations do you have for our current user experience?

This is a sneaky question with a purpose. Consider it a red flag if the agency cites their personal opinion about your current design. After all, we’re going after more than just personal opinion here. User feedback, and not personal bias, should inform any recommendations. Ideally the agency has researched your brand and combed around for user frustrations specific to your industry. This is their chance to share their initial insights.

5. How does UX design fit into my broader marketing goals?

Smart UX design provides value to your consumers. Value, in turn, influences purchasing decisions and brand loyalty. A great UX firm should understand your users better than you do. That understanding, translated into positive daily user experiences over the long-term, can be a competitive advantage. UX design has the power to set your brand apart. Pick the agency that can best articulate how their UX skills will contribute to your brand’s success.

(User) Experience Matters

Physical objects we love (smartphones, cars, electric toothbrushes) earn our devotion by working reliability without much fuss. When they don’t work, our love fizzles. The right agency will have an actionable vision for how UX design will help your consumers fall in love with your product/service. So let’s get the lovefest started. Sign-up and search for your next great UX design agency on Agency Spotter today!

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About Claire Wallace

Claire writes about strategy, insight, and advice to help inspire smart and savvy marketers. She completed her MBA at UMass-Amherst and has been a team member at City Sports, MIT, and an organic farm in Maine. A former student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin, Claire now runs marathons, for fun! On her bucket list is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, dining at Per Se, and running the beautiful trails in New Zealand.