If you Google ‘best UX design agency’, you will easily get hits for everything between the top 5 to the top 100 agencies in the country. Businesses have begun understanding that the space between their products and customers needs to be filled with superior experience design which can only be done through strategic planning. There is a huge demand for UX UI design services in a cluttered design market. How do you decide which one to avail, This is the question we’re attempting to resolve today.
Why go for an agency over an independent consultant/freelancer as a UX Design Partner?
Firstly, agencies come with a broader and stronger cumulative wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience. Thanks to the diverse set of specialists in each area of design, a UX agency provides the best of each feature. On the other hand, a single designer won’t have more than one or a couple of specialties. I am sure there have been times where executives have thought about how to decide on the right UX partner for their project.
Secondly, hiring an agency as a UX partner for a design project can save you an ample amount of time. You won’t have to set processes from your end, the agency will have its own tried and tested ones including onboarding and finishing. You won’t have to spend separately on different tools, the agency will bill you just once for all tools and services included. Since UX agencies are in the business of producing quality designs on a regular basis, they will deliver quicker and more efficiently as well.
But what can make or break your partnership with the agency is trust. You need to be able to put enough faith in the agency to trust them with your valuable product data. There must be no two thoughts to this decision, and the agency invested in must be reputable and reliable.
How to differentiate a good agency from the BEST agency?
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that you would be spoilt for choice with numerous good agencies to choose from. However, these key checks are what separates the very best from the decent or good ones:
1. Check their business acumen:
If each product that the UX agency has delivered has fulfilled at least one business objective, then they know what they’re doing. Look at their portfolio and processes with a view to gauge their approach towards business objectives, delivering solutions, and fulfilling user needs at the same time. After all, UX design is your company’s closest interaction with customers.
2. Scrutinize case studies:
When you check the portfolio of a potential UX partner for a design project, don’t make the mistake of just checking the look and feel of their work. Go through the entire process that they used to take a business problem and give it a UX solution. Check the diversity of industries, brands, and businesses in their portfolio. Grill them upon their best work and understand the processes that went into creating it. Check if their designers are aware of the performance of their own work post-deployment. Basically, check the problem-solving and business competence of the team.
3. Learn about their process:
Portfolios might not give you a complete picture of the processes used by a UX agency. You need to book a consultation with them and understand if they work on instinct or focus on data. Who conducts the research and how? How is data interpreted and utilized for making design decisions? How is design efficacy measured and which tools are used? These are just a few of the relevant questions to be asked.
4. Examine their skillset:
If it’s an agency that goes beyond UX and also offers UI, branding, marketing, etc., find out how these other services can enhance your partnership. If it’s a specialized UX agency, compare its results with those of multi-specialty agencies and make sure they’re better. Even with a single-specialty agency, check for specific talents in pure design, data interpretation, business development, data analysis, etc.
5. Assess their communication skills:
Communication and empathy are make-or-break factors when it comes to creative partnerships. Deduce the agency’s excitement towards your project through their emails, meetings, frequency, and style of communication. Know how often they provide status updates of ongoing projects, and how involved would they like you to be in the process.
6. Check the team’s credentials:
Make sure that you talk to each member of the team assigned to your project and check their mastery in their domains. Follow their individual work on LinkedIn, Behance, etc., and know exactly who you are entrusting your products with. What separates a good agency from the BEST one is largely its people.
7. Test their project management talent:
There are small ways to conduct this kind of test. It begins with checking the agency’s timeliness with proposals, meetings, and the quality of communication. Provide them with a brief and check their approach to it. Join them for brainstorming sessions, and set up personal meetings with the project manager.
8. Look for tools and processes:
Scan the tools that the UX agency uses for various processes from user research to prototyping, wireframing, and UX testing. See how adept the team is with these tools, and how they interpret and utilize data.
9. Conduct a price check:
Apart from comparing prices of different agencies, you also need to check which pricing model suits you, hourly or fixed-price. If the designers are agile and efficient, an hourly model will suit you best. You can also opt for a fixed-price model if they provide you with a good quote and you can trust them enough to not underutilize their resources for your project.
It is quite clear that choosing a UX partner for a design project is as high-involvement and crucial a process as choosing a business partner. It must be so, as UX is your core touchpoint with your customers and your entire business can hinge upon it.
If you’re still on the hunt for the best UX agency, give Divami’s portfolio a look and check our competence for fulfilling your unique business goals with top-notch design.