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Choosing a UX Design Agency for Your Startup

When it comes to choosing a UX design agency, you will most probably find yourself thinking about how you can choose the right one . There are so many so-called user experience design companies out there who provide mediocre services just to chop off a piece of your precious budget. One of the very first things that comes to entrepreneurs' minds is whether they should hire a boutique or a more established UX design agency.

Unless you have a UI/UX design department, you will need to hire an outside UX consultant or agency if you want to get high-quality results. Neither should you look for cheap UX design services, because you know what they say – buy cheap, buy twice. However, when you are a startup, keeping your costs within a particular budget is crucial. So, what do you do?

We have compiled several valuable tips that you can put to use in your quest for the ultimate creative agency.

Define the Exact Services You Need

Startups often find themselves in a situation of not having the slightest idea of what they should start with, when they need to take care of the design aspect of their businesses. If this is the case for you, you might want to start with a logo or UI/UX of your product, but you will almost definitely need more creative assistance. If you consider this carefully, you will realize that you also need branding, a marketing website and much more, depending on where you are as a business.

For example, if you need to convey a compelling brand narrative, you will have to find an agency with solid copywriting skills along with outstanding UX consultants and designers. But if you are planning to launch a successful digital product, you should look for a digital agency that knows what design solutions and trends resonate with your target audience. The same goes for product launch video, marketing website, and any other assets you might require.

In other words, knowing what services you need precisely will help you make the right choice. UX/UI design can be very different, depending on the area of its application.

Start Looking for UX Agencies 

One thing that every startup owner should understand is that there is no universal way of finding and hiring a reputable UX design firm.

These days, when someone needs to find a solution, service or product, they start off with Google. However, it should not be the only search option to consider. In the end, if you spend enough time on it, you will end up visiting and bookmarking many websites, such as Behance or Dribbble that host many designer portfolios.

You can save some time by knowing where to look for outstanding UX designers beyond Google. Here are some sites worth checking out:

  • Behance. This platform allows designers to showcase their design portfolios in UI/UX design, photography, graphic design, illustration, and many other areas;

  • Dribbble. Quite similar to Behance, this platform is a great way to take a quick tour through various UX design portfolios;

  • Creattica. It is an inspiration gallery where you can see great designs for a wide range of purposes – from the web to print;

  • Pinterest. You will find many boards with work samples from the world's best UX designers.

Moreover, this is by no means a complete list of helpful sources. Ask someone you know and whose logo, UI/UX designs or website you like, if they could tell you, who provided them with design solutions.

Things You Should Look for in a UX Design Firm

After finding a few companies that seem to be capable of providing for your needs and then narrowing them down to a shortlist, you will need to evaluate each contender in detail. Just take a closer look at such things as:

  • Website. If a design company claims to provide professional design solutions, its website should reflect that. It has to be functional, user-friendly and visually appealing;

  • Portfolio. Browse through previous projects, preferably for clients from different industries, who needed different UX design solutions, so you can see how versatile the company's skills are;

  • Client Testimonials. Happy clients always have a good word to say about their design agencies. However, in order to get the full picture, you should look beyond the agency's website because companies tend to create generic testimonials or only post the positive ones.

  • Dribbble/Behance Profiles. If an agency has a decent following and the design community appreciates their work, this can only be a good sign.

The above information will help you get a better idea about your shortlisted UX design agencies. But you shouldn’t stop there. While a company may look solid from the outside, you should try to find out more about their work process. You must understand a design agency's work ethics when it comes to UX/UI design, as this may directly affect your project results.

There's no reason for a UX designer to hide this information from a potential client, because this shows that you're doing your due diligence before hiring them. For example, a San Francisco-based UX design company, Clay has a rather meticulous way of approaching design projects. They start with a very diligent discovery, user and competitor research resulting in User Research Takeaways and UI/UX Research Document. These documents serve as the basis for all future work during the UX and UI design phases. It's a well thought out system that incorporates goal-setting, client understanding and audience insights leading to high-quality UX designs that meet the client's needs.

Approaches may vary from company to company, as there are many project management tools and methodologies out there, and different teams choose different solutions. The main takeaway is that a UI/UX design agency should have a lot more going on in the backstage than just an Excel spreadsheet with time logs and role distribution.

Make Your Move and Build a Relationship

Finally, after hours of painstaking research and discussing your project requirements, you have decided on the UX agency that seems to be the best fit for what you need. Now, it is time to make your move and let them know you want to hire them.

Start building a relationship with your agency before you even have a contract in place. Most UX design projects are less about the actual deliverables and more about managing expectations correctly. To do a great job, the agency needs to have a crystal clear understanding of the project and your expectations. If everything goes well, you may get yourself a team of faithful UX consultants and designers, and they can win themselves a long-term client.

Always be transparent with your UX agency if you have a new idea or think that they can do something differently. But don't expect them to implement any such changes for free without affecting the timeline. When you consider each other like real partners, rather than "those design guys that work for me" and "that guy who hired us for a project," magical things can happen.

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