How to hire great product designers

How to hire great product designers
Photo by Christina @ / Unsplash

I recently advised a startup who were experiencing an ongoing problem. The founders didn’t have a design background and were struggling to understand how to evaluate the efforts of their product designer, especially from a UI perspective. They also were facing challenges when they approached product designer hires.

I chatted with them for 45 minutes, but here were the key notes that may be useful if you too need to evaluate a product designer when you yourself don’t have a design background.

How to know whether your product design is good

Evaluating UX and UI design as a non-designer can be a daunting task, but there are some key considerations to keep in mind.

  • Understand the user: Look at the design from the user's perspective. Is it easy to use? Does it help them achieve their goals? Does it solve their problems? This is the U in UX
  • Consistency: Consistency is key in good design. Ensure that the design is consistent across the product and adheres to established design patterns. This isn’t about generating a ‘wow factor,’ it’s about whether this interface is easy to use and consistent across the product (design system experience especially with Figma is a useful skill here)
  • Visual appeal: Good design is visually appealing and engages the user. Does the design look polished and professional? Does it draw the user in?
  • Attention to detail: Great design is in the details. Look for attention to detail in typography, spacing, and color choices.
  • Usability testing: The best way to know if a design is effective is to test it with users. Conducting usability testing can provide valuable feedback on what works and what doesn't.
  • Show their working out. The first thing a designer should do isn’t to jump to pushing pixels - they should be problem solving and collaborating with the team to understand the problem, solve the problem and then create the solution
  • One final point - I’d be wary of a designer creating 5 options for you to choose from - that’s more for a marketing design and creative task. For product design, I’d expect 1 solution, possibly 2, rather than giving options

How to hire great product designers

  • Hiring a self starter is important - you’re not there to teach them design, and if anything, you’re buying that in!
  • Designers should first understand problems, solve problems and then design solutions. That can start with mapping assumptive user journeys - which help show you all “how they got there”
  • Look for designers who possess a strong understanding of user-centric design principles and have experience creating intuitive and engaging user experiences
  • The ability to empathise with users and translate their needs into design solutions is crucial. Additionally, founders should seek designers who can demonstrate a portfolio of diverse and relevant projects, showcasing their ability to tackle different design challenges effectively - with their working out (personas, user journeys, user research studies)
  • A good fit with the startup's vision and culture is also important, as designers who align with the company's values are more likely to contribute positively to the team dynamics
  • They should be team players. Prioritise hiring designers who possess excellent communication and collaboration skills, as they will be working closely with other team members, including developers and stakeholders

Were these tips useful? Is there anything you would include here too?