With the hundreds of UX agencies on the market, choosing the right partner is no walk in the park. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for in a UX service provider.
Choosing the right user experience (UX) partner for your digital product can be a big decision, as making the wrong choice can leave you with a digital product your users will download, use then delete and give bad reviews on. Do it right, and you’d have a product your users will love, use more often, and recommend to their friends.
The stakes are high, which is why you should carefully filter who you want to work with. That said, it’s impossible to anticipate a partner’s suitability with 100% accuracy before a project gets started.
There are, however, certain steps you can take to weed out poor fits and leave you with the best options.
6 Steps to Selecting a UX Agency
- Study their portfolio and reviews from past clients
- Learn about their communication processes
- Meet the actual team who will work on your project
- Dig into their processes
- Ask questions to their frontend developers
- Set up a workshop to showcase their skills
1. Study Their Portfolio and Reviews From Past Clients
The first thing that you should be looking for in a UX agency is their past work, as its the best indicator of any future work they would be doing for your project. This research is very important — the past UX work of any agency will give you an idea of their technical skills and experience with projects like yours.
One way to collect research is through online reviews. Clutch is a dedicated B2B ratings platform that rates businesses on myriad of indicators, such as the quality of work, cost, delivery time, and willingness to refer.
Each review provides a quick summary of the services provided and the outcome of the project, complete with a featured quote and five quick star-ratings. You can also read a full case study to get the nitty-gritty details, including where an agency fell short and what advice the client would give to future customers.
I also recommend downloading a few apps listed on the portfolio of any agency. Test out the UX for yourself. Does it have the look and feel that you want? You should especially do this if the firm has any apps that resemble the one you’re looking to make.
Lastly, consider giving clients who vouch for these UX agencies a call. That way, you can ask more questions on the quality of work delivered and how the project went.
2. Learn About Their Communication Processes
Communication is one of the most important parts of any partnership. The agency you choose should be enthusiastic about working with you from the get-go. Ask them questions on how often they communicate with clients, the window of time in which replies can be expected and the tools they use.
The days in which all communication happened via email is over. Your UX team should invite you to a separate internal channel on a tool such as Slack to make communication instantaneous. These tools allow the work to continue seamlessly and keep the project on track.
3. Meet the Actual Team Who Will Work on Your Project
Every client who comes with a project usually meets with the sales team, lead designers, and other team members senior enough to make an impression. As flattering as this might be, it’s important for you to meet the actual team that would be working on your project.
After you get access, ask the team lead about who will be responsible for communication, deliverables, and the overall quality of the project. This prevents a scenario where a capable team who convinced you to work with that agency is then replaced with less-skilled juniors.
4. Dig Into Their Processes
Creating a digital product’s UX is not just about a pretty interface. To ensure that it can drive user and market adoption, the UI needs to be thoroughly tested before launching. This is why you should quiz any UX agency on their creative and technical processes, such as user data gathering, user persona creation, and usability testing.
Remember: any good UX agency should be focused on your goals and have plenty of questions. That information will help scope your project, conduct research, and create personas, information architecture wireframes, and prototypes before you get these items back for feedback. Once you give a thumb’s up, the team will make the interface designs and conduct user testing. Once all this is done, the designs are ready for the development team.
Every solid UX agency follows the above process or one like it. Anyone who promises you mockups in a week should make you think twice about their methods and quality.
5. Ask Questions to Their Frontend Developers
No matter how great the UX design, the ultimate execution needs to stay within the client’s budget. To get that perspective, the design team needs frontend developers on hand. Their expertise will inform what is technically possible given the client’s available resources and ensure that the coding can begin right away.
This prevents any time-wasting when the designs get handed over to the development team.
6. Set Up a Workshop to Showcase Their Skills
There is no better way of gauging a team’s skills than through face-to-face engagement. Ask for a discovery workshop from at least two of the agencies you intend to work with. You’ll get to meet the team, pitch your business requirements, and let the agency do some creative whiteboarding. Workshops are also a great space for both clients and service providers to ask each other open-ended questions. This helps ensure a good cultural fit and agreement on the project vision, mission, and measurable goals.
Any good UX agency would jump at such a chance to showcase their skills. Any agency that hesitates to do so is not one you should be partnering with.
Find the Right UX Agency
Picking the right UX agency is no easy task, but it gets easier with some diligent research and analysis.
The best agency for you will have the necessary experience, skills, and ability to understand your needs — these qualities allow them to deliver the UX you need in your digital product. On the other hand, picking the wrong agency can burn through your funds and derail a product that had the potential for success.
A team like Mood Up will understand these stakes as well as the investment every client put into their ideas. They should strive to create data-driven, user-tested UX designs that create value, not just a paycheck.