So, you have decided to hire an agency to help you with one of the most important part of your Product business — the UX. We can understand the nervousness you must be going through, if this is your first time.
Now is the big question of how to go about finding the right UX Agency — Your product partner?
And this one decision if gone wrong, could set your product roadmap back by a few months. Money is still the secondary concern. For a Product, time to market is most important. However, if done right — You can have a long term partner that can be your ally in your long strenuous Product journey. Someone else, who would start caring about your Product and it’s success as much as you do!
Be ready to invest your time in finding the right one.
Here are some of the most important parts to this puzzle:
FINDING THE RIGHT AGENCY
REFERENCES: Best way is to ask for references from your known network about any agencies that they would recommend. And then do some research on your own.
PORTFOLIO: Check the work of the agency. Ask them to narrate the story of the work that you liked from their portfolio. More than the pretty looking screens, you shall be interested in what business problems is the product solving and how did the UX agency help in that.
Every agency that has been around for 4–5 years must have couple of good looking screens to share. Go beyond that. Ask them some of the recent work that they have done or better still what they are working on right now — If an agency keeps basking on past laurels and doesn’t talk about anything recent, you know what to do.
PASSION FOR PRODUCT: Look out for the passion for the product in the agency — Do they take pride in their customers business even after the contract / project is over. How much do they still know about the journey of the product after their part was done?
PROCESS: What’s the guarantee that the success that the agency’s other customers have seen, would be seen with you too? The answer lies in their People and Processes.
WATCH OUT FOR: Look out for the arrogance in the first call with the agency. Most of the agencies and senior designers start faltering here. There is difference between confidence and arrogance. Nobody likes to work with brilliant jerks.
WHERE TO START
Once you have decided on whom to start with, you shall start small and test the waters before signing some long term contracts with the agency.
Probable models of engagement while you are testing the agency are:
- Identification of issues (Heuristic Analysis) in your existing App — Most of the times, there is an existing product. You would want the agency to review your existing product and see if they, at least see the same problems as you do. And then beyond…
- Start with a small module of the product. Typically pick a moderate problem — an independent module within your product to start with. Giving the most complex problem as the first step isn’t the thing to do. You are setting yourself for failure if you do that. You want to warm the agency up with your Product / Domain and then introduce your most complex problem to them. Otherwise you are just setting yourself and the Agency for disappointment.
DURING THE ENGAGEMENT
Here’s a secret — The best work is done for the customers who follow up. Easiest way is to keep a Reminder to check with your agency on a regular interval.
Be prepared to do your homework. Better prepared you are, easier for the agency and lesser time and cost to you.
Once you have hired the UX agency doesn’t mean that you have outsourced your Product Pain. Make the Product decisions yourself, don’t leave them to the UX agency. Use their inputs but don’t hold them responsible for Product Strategy.
Finally, we wish you all the best in your UX Agency hiring journey and finding a great Product Partner.
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