It is no secret that the most demanding job in the market today is that of a UX designer.

In a rush to capture the digital market, every company is looking to expand its user experience, the design team. Especially post COVID-19, where every company wants to create a digital experience to sell their products/services online.

In the last 5 years, I see UX designers are mushrooming. Why is this sudden rush? Companies are competing to hire the best UX designers who can come up with disruptive ideas that not only solve the user pain point but also make the experience delightful.

So, let’s ask some fundamental questions:
• Who is a UX designer?
• What skills are needed?
• Why is it challenging to hire and retain them?

Who is a UX designer?
The role of a UX designer is challenging as it requires not just problem- solving skills and an aesthetic frame of mind, but also a strategic capability to understand the brand vision that gives the product its distinct edge.

Anybody can fix a problem, but to fix it in such a way that users love and get Hooked (This book by Nir Eyal merely is superb) on to, and to be able to monetize that experience is what companies are trying to create. In such a case, the key to the role of a UX designer is the ability to collaborate with the product owner/leadership and the engineering teams to conceptualize, visualize and implement a design solution that engages with the end-user by creating happy experiences.

In essence, a UX designer can map product direction, visualize, and create a smooth narrative that effectively communicates interaction and design ideas. Her skills include a good understanding of Personas, User Journey, Prototyping, Technology implementation, and Brand Experience. More importantly, the role demands familiarity with Simplifying User Experience techniques and translating these into relevant UX activities.

Now that you understand what it takes to be a UX designer, why does it not make business sense in setting up an internal team?

What skills are needed?
Creating a User Experience is a collaborative effort demanding various skills that one person cannot possess.

The most essential skill is a human-centered approach to digital innovation that integrates people’s needs, the possibilities of technology, and designing an experience based on business requirements for success.

In my 25 years of experience with design and technology, I am yet to come across one who understands the intersection of these two vast fields. Because design is an experience, and technology enables that experience. And that’s why designers or technologists cannot stay without each other even though, in most cases, they are like cats and dogs.

Why is it challenging to hire and retain them?
Most startups are tech-driven, and technologist believes that once they build a tech-heavy tool, users are going to be queuing up to use it. This rarely happens; the days of ‘You create, They will come’ pretty much doesn’t exist.

So when the startup decides to hire a UX designer who is gonna be interviewing them, pulling up few questions from Medium is not gonna help, and most of all, how do you know what they don’t know. Even when you hire the UX designer, you are talking about one person doing persona creation, user journey, competitive analysis, user research, empathy maps, wireframes, information architecture, style guide, UX design, prototyping, design handoff…woof the list is never-ending.

If you are a small and medium-sized company, then it doesn’t make business sense to suddenly train and hire a digital team whose skills are not aligned with your core business.

Large enterprises surely can do all the above, they have the financial muscle, but when was the last time you saw innovative ideas coming from large companies. Don’t just take my words, read this extensive study by Valuer Team.

What is the way forward?
Once the product is out, what will you do with a team that does not fit into your core business culture? Is it worth creating a new infrastructure around a business that does not align with your business goals? Therefore, it is best to partner or set up an extended team with an outside agency or UI & UX specialist firm that is better equipped to handle the requirement in terms of expertise, experience, and resources.

The need of the hour is collaboration on-demand and remote working. These two methodologies bring the best minds together with cost-effectiveness, not an all-round expansion that dilutes your core vision.

Imagine if Apple were to suddenly involve in creating apps just because it needs to retain its millions of customers around the world. The trick is to be so good in what you do, that the world is ready to come knocking at your door, for that one thing which none deliver other than you.

There are several good agencies or UX & UI design and development firms that can help you kickstart your project in no time. This way, you save time, which is your only asset and the experts will guide you from day one on what is required, and handhold you in every step of the process.

When you are mature enough to manage the creative folks and seamlessly make them work with technologists, then you start hiring your team of UX designers. Hey, even now, Airbnb hires external teams all the time.

Are you stuck in the UX journey? Give me a shout, and I will give you an honest recommendation.

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AuthorMuki Regunathan
24 years of entrepreneurial experience with a focus on design and technology. Muki has Invested in 19 start-ups with three successful exits. Over the last 17 years, Muki has worked with 300+ leading companies maximize their outcome with Digital Innovation. Enterprises, emerging companies, and startups partner with Pepper Square to solve their business problems with all things digital.
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