A user interface (UI) designer is an invaluable part of any customer-facing development, and someone who creates easily understood functionality to help the user accomplish what they want to do. UI designers focus on your site’s or app’s tools and visual cues (buttons, menus, or other components) so visitors can easily find what they’re looking for and complete their intended tasks. Ultimately, they make sure your site is user friendly and intuitive, and it’s easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. When that isn’t obvious to a user, it can negatively affect your website’s performance and traffic.
So, how do you find a freelance UI designer who can deliver the experience your visitors are looking for? This article breaks down key considerations, essential skills, and other factors you may want to consider during the selection process.
What does a UI designer do?
Intuitive UI design isn’t just about looking good—it’s a crucial component in the collaboration between UI designers, user experience (UX) designers, web designers, and front-end developers to bring your app or website to life. Marrying the skills of a developer, analyst, designer, researcher and marketer, UI designers anticipate a user’s expectations and create the digital assets that will respond to a user’s actions with seamless clarity and purpose.
It isn’t uncommon to find a professional who can do both UI and web design, but while these disciplines may overlap, they’re not interchangeable. UI design has a pretty specific set of responsibilities, including ensuring that the UX designer’s goals are accomplished within the web designer’s mockups. In a way, this makes UI designers a bridge between the UX designer and the front-end developer, and will often have some front-end coding skills themselves.
UI designers analyze customer preferences and audience behaviors, then go page-by-page through your app to develop the specific ways a user will interact at each step. Their goal is to make interacting with your site obvious and intuitive, so they may come up with shortcuts or multiple pathways through an app—all the things that keep users from ever having to click the “Help” button or search through your FAQs.
They’re also key players in testing your app or site, and using that data to improve the UI and fix any bugs.
DEFINING YOUR PROJECT SCOPE
Deciding what level of UI design your project will require is one of the main purposes for a creative brief—a document you can share with the UI designer that provides contextual information about the project and their role in it.
These details may include:
- Information about your business or industry.
- A summary of your project: What it is, and why it’s happening.
- Your target audience and any research into their preferences.
- Sample user storyboards.
- An overview of what the competition is doing.
- Relevant details about your brand, including tone, style, and design guidelines.
- A project timeline, including any key milestones/deliverables and testing timelines.
- The project budget.
- Other designers or developers they’ll be working with on the project.
A thoughtful and well-defined creative brief won’t just help your project run more smoothly; you can also use it to write a job post that will be more likely to attract a talented web designer who can get the results you’re looking for.
HOW TO WRITE A JOB POST
Writing the perfect job description to find a UI designer takes one thing: Clarity. To appeal to the top talent you’d like to submit a proposal for your project, your description should ideally explain:
- The problem you’re trying to solve with your app or site
- The skill level you’re looking for
- The deliverables and timeline
- Any requests for the proposal process
How to shortlist submissions
When the first round of proposals come in, do a first screening for the basic requirements and qualities you’re looking for and narrow the field from there. Look for UI designers who understand usability and have the portfolio to prove it. Details such as button color and placement, typography, and color scheme can have a measurable impact on conversion rates.
Knowing how to make something user friendly is part data, part instinct—what should come through in their work is their approach, and the ability to think like a user. Look for them to understand best practices such as:
- Data-driven UI design. UI design isn’t just about best guesses—there is a lot of data that can influence the final product. Test your site with your audience and analyze the results to guide certain decisions.
- Excellent collaboration. A UI designer learns from, listens to, and also guides your web designers and front-end developers. They also work to create the UX designer’s goals and site functionality.
Sample questions for the interview
In addition to more standard interview questions, here are a few suggestions you may want to include when talking to a potential UI designer:
- “What are some of the most common mistakes you perceive in UI design?”
- “What goes into a great storyboard/user story?” This shows that they understand different audiences and user segments, and how a particular user may work their way through your app. They should be able to identify areas that potentially trip users up and offer suggestions and shortcuts.
- “Knowing what our site/app is trying to do, what do you think some UI challenges we may face could be?” Asking this question doesn’t just indicate whether they’ve done their research, it also gives them a chance to show their experience tackling different types of sites and audiences. They don’t have to provide a solution, just an example or two that shows they understand why a user may be coming to your site and what they’re there to do.
- “What do you look for in effective UI design?” How do the designer’s priorities fit with your own? While every project is different, learning more about how they see usability and UI design will give you a better understanding of how their vision aligns with your needs.