UX work can be done by full-time employees, contractors, and agencies. Discover the pros and cons of each of these types of employment relationships in this video.
- There is UX work to do and someone has to do it. Maybe this is an employee or several employees, maybe the work is done by a contractor, whether a freelancer or a moonlighter who has a regular day job, or maybe you're using an agency or larger company to contract out the work. There are certainly pros and cons to each option. In theory, in a world of agile development, UX should be as regular, iterative, and ongoing as any other job, and many times that is true. If you have ongoing, full time UX work, the most economical way to get that work done is by bringing on a full time hire. Hiring someone as a regular, full time employee of your company gives you the most control over their work and their time. In return for a level of loyalty and commitment, you as the employer, should commit to invest in those employees and help them to grow professionally. That said, there are a number of reasons that you might consider a contract position instead. UX is hot and there may simply not be enough skilled talent to go around, making it hard to find employees. Or given these hot fields, you may find that limited available talent makes the hiring process take longer than you're anticipating, and you need someone to fill in the gaps as you continue your search. Or you may have irregular development cycles, so UX work, such as your user research, isn't always needed or budgeted. Or maybe there's already a UX team, but you have some overflow design work that needs doing urgently. In cases like these, a contractor can fill the gap with expertise. A freelancer is an individual contractor that represents their own business interest and functions as a limited contracting resource. I say limited contracting resource because their ability to help is defined by how much one person can do. As long as a designated freelancer is available and as long as the business is willing to offer that person the appropriate rate of pay, which may admittedly be higher for UX expertise than you might expect, it's possible to rapidly bring on a level of UX expertise without a need for long term commitment. For example, I spend a decade as a freelancer focused larger in UX research and evaluation. While my dream world, research is done very regularly, this is not always the case. So in actuality, the user research that I do is well suited to freelancing. I often find that I'm called on to jump into a project, help assess some user needs or perhaps how usable an existing product is, then jump out after meeting the urgent needs. And then I don't hear from the company again for a few weeks, or maybe a few months, until they again have an urgent need and no external experts. While I like the term freelancer, I'm also a micro business. I'm not the only one who works directly for my company, Lebsontech, and to deal with varying bandwidth needs, I've taken on subcontractors, other freelancers and small businesses, as I manage projects and typically take a lead role. A UX moonlighter is a special kind of freelancer who also has a day job where they work full time. Moonlighters expand the options you have on who can help you with your UX work, and many have a good level of UX expertise as well. The downside is that since they have a full time day job, which may not be so flexible, they may need to work exclusively off hours, and their first loyalty is going to be to their primary employer, no matter how much you want it to be otherwise. But that said, you may find moonlighters are a little bit cheaper than their full time freelancing counterparts. All these options are focused at the person level, but what if you have a project that you want to hand off to a team to get that project done? That's where a larger agency or consulting firm comes in. Let's now explore this a bit more.
- UX design, research, and strategy jobs
- Determining which skills you need on your team
- Finding employees, contractors, and agencies
- Assessing talent to fill UX job openings at your company
- Evaluating a candidate's user experience credibility
- Working efficiently with consultants
- Managing a staff of creatives