In the world of software or service design, with the predominance of the digital age, you’re probably going to find yourself in need of a UX specialist to ensure optimal effectiveness and usability. A UX specialist can make all the difference in a project. While your artists and programmers are a crack team, they need a usability person’s guidance, because, as they will themselves admit, they are biased as far as understanding their design. So, how do you choose a specialist? How do you even find one?
Well, this used to be trickier than it is now, before the internet. Following UX circles online as you are doing by reading this, is the fastest way to find sources for UX consultancy. Barring that, your next best thing to do is attend both SaaS and UX conventions, where you can network with people in the field, and with others who have had to seek these professionals in the past, and can refer you to ones of good reputation who helped them. Honestly, this is probably the most efficient and controlled forum for such a query, because on the internet, there no certainties with what anyone claims ultimately, and you run the risk of coming into this with someone less than competent.
As for how to make a wise choice past this point, the best thing to do is look at the types of projects they have worked on. It goes without saying that the more projects they have been involved in (successfully), the better. But, also, the more diverse the software, and the more diverse the platforms, the better skilled they are likely to be, and the more adaptive as well. If you need to test them in some fashion, the best way to do so is to establish an interview based on a series of related case studies that show good UX practices being successfully employed to solve a problem or ensure a success.
Judge them by how well their answers hold up to these solutions, and you have a fairly good and fair litmus for how competent they really are. If this is still not specific enough, see if they are at all published in the UX field, even online like this. If so, this means nothing in and of itself, but read what they’ve said, and use good old fashioned intuition to judge if it reflects expertise and competence, or someone who really isn’t sure what they’re doing.
There are sadly no set rules or guidelines, nor certainties for picking out or finding a UX specialist, but these general rules of thumb have held out for most people over the years and undoubtedly will continue to do so.
If all else fails, talk to non-competing companies your business is on good terms with, and network there. Undoubtedly, somewhere along this chain of contacts, a good UX person of strong repute will come out of the wood work. It just takes patience and a little resolve.