How to Hire a UI Designer

By Robert Half on January 10, 2020 at 9:00am

What is it about an app or any other piece of software that makes users fall in love with it?

It’s a subjective question, to be sure, but most answers — speed, appearance, easy navigation — have something to do with the user interface (UI). A great UI can be the difference between a competent product and a killer app, which is why UI design is one of the most important roles in the creative field.

It’s also a multifaceted one. Looks matter, of course, and from the color palette to the typography, UI designers are responsible for making a product that’s pleasing on the eye. But they also devise intuitive user interactions, craft style guides, make mockups and prototypes, build and manage design systems, and optimize products for responsive web design (RWD).

As you’d expect, creative professionals with this kind of skill set are in high demand, and competition for the hottest talent is fierce. But there’s a lot you can do to increase your chances of landing your first choice for the role.

Create a top-notch job posting

Just as a well-designed UI draws in users of an app, a tight, well-crafted job posting engages the attention of the best candidates.

Assuming you want your designer to hit the ground running, clearly state what software they’ll be using on day one, as well as the kinds of products and platforms they’ll be working on. Software skills the designer may need include:

  • Prototyping — MockFlow, Balsamiq, Axure RP, Framer X, InVision Studio, ProtoPie
  • Editing or creating still images — Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
  • Creating animated images and text — Sketch, Adobe After Effects
  • Interaction design environments — Principle

Engineering and design are becoming increasingly specialized, so it’s safer to assume designers don’t write code than to assume they do. If the position requires coding skills, state this loud and clear in the job posting, along with any markup and programming languages the designer needs to know.

Some additional topics to address in your job posting include whether the position is full-time or project-based, if any special credentials or certifications are required, the level of formal education preferred and details about your organizational culture.

Finally, work with your team to make sure the job description prioritizes must-have skills and qualifications. If the posting is a laundry list of nice-to-have attributes, it risks driving away talented candidates who can’t tick every box.

Dig deeper at the interview

A good resume and portfolio tells you a lot about a candidate’s hard skills, qualifications and experience. They tell you less about their soft skills — their ability to communicate ideas to team members, for example, or to compromise on their personal vision for the benefit of the project.

These and similar interpersonal skills are crucial for UI designers, who work closely with software developers and user experience (UX) designers. By asking the right questions during the interview, you can probe a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas. Some examples:

  • What are your favorite and least favorite things about UI design?
  • Do you think UI designers will become more or less important as technology evolves?
  • From a design perspective, what’s your favorite piece of software, and why?
  • Pretend I’ve never used a smartphone, and explain to me why UI design matters.
  • What kind of work environment do you thrive in?
  • What do you learn from more, your mistakes or your successes?
  • How do you think the UX designers and software developers you’ve worked with would describe you?

It’s a good idea to mix broad questions like these with ones that focus more narrowly on a candidate’s work history. Pick out a couple of interesting projects from their portfolio and ask questions such as these:

  • If we asked you to work on a similar project to this one, what would you do differently?
  • What makes this particular user interface special? 
  • Was there any moment on this project when you disagreed with your software developers or UX designers? If so, how did you resolve this?
  • How did delivering this project on time affect your work-life balance?

Make a good offer — and make it fast

It’s a tight job market out there, with plenty of opportunities for UI designers — who may well be juggling multiple offers from different companies. If a candidate impressed you with their resume and interview, chances are they’re impressing other employers too — so it’s important to move quickly to make them an offer they can’t refuse.

The Creative Group 2020 Salary Guide states that the median starting salary for a UI designer is $80,000, rising to around $128,000 for the most experienced and qualified candidates. These are national figures, though, and salaries can vary according to location. Use our Salary Calculator to determine what UI designers can expect in your city and state.

If you can’t match the salaries being offered by your competitors, you have other options. From bottomless coffee to flexible schedules, tempting perks and benefits can sway creative professionals. Get creative yourself and think about what might appeal to UI designers in particular.

They are likely to embrace emerging technologies, and have the ability to self-learn, so opportunities for professional development may help your job offer stand out. In addition, you could promise them an all-expenses paid trip to their choice of one or two of the many annual UI-related conferences.

Reach out to a recruiter

Recruiting can be stressful and time consuming. With their expansive networks, staffing agencies like The Creative Group have the inside track on the best UI designers available in your region. They keep you up to date on the latest trends in hiring and compensation, and might be just the edge you need to find the UI designer who’s right for you.

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