How to find and select a design firm

30 Oct 2013 - 2:48pm
2 years ago
3 replies
4326 reads

Thanks in part to some of the advice and suggestions from this discussion list, my company is ready to engage a design firm to do some work on one of our web applications. We're looking for UX and visual design. How do y'all recommend finding a firm and evaluating whether they're a good fit for our culture and product?


31 Oct 2013 - 8:00am
Sean Pook

Hi Jeff,

Exciting news. Firstly, can I ask why you feel hiring a firm is the way to go? You could have equal success in hiring a team on contractors for around half the cost. However, if you're looking for integrated project management and certain delivery guarentees then hiring a firm probably warrants the extra cost.

What kind of UX work do you need doing? Will you be looking for some user research too? There are some very good specialist firms out there but it becomes harder to pick when you have research, UX design, and visual design needs. Some clients will pass research to one agency and design to another for example.

My top tip would be to ensure that you know who will be working on your project with you, i.e. if the pitch team impresses you, ensure you wont then be handed over to some very junior staff who don't deliver what the pitch team promised.

Be weary of any agency who advocates visual design over usablity and/or cannot demonstrate adequate user-centered-design experience. UX is not just about a pretty UI as I'm sure you already know.

Feel free to follow-up with any questons with me.

31 Oct 2013 - 10:16am

Hi Jeff,

My recommendation is to first write a brief that details what you need and requirements around that need. If you have a set budget you're working within, state that as well. Is your company doing the dev work? If so, what types of deliverables do you need (i.e., PSDs, functional specs, etc.). 

When you are looking for an agency, look around your community for agencies that are most engaged in UX and design events and the community. Reach out to peers for recommendations. Focus on an agency that has a solid UX process that includes research. Since you mention UX I am going to assume that you are open to some user research (you should be!). I'm not sure where you are located but I can provide you with some recommendations of solid UX shops that also have good creative. Full disclosure: I work for an experience design agency in Boston. We tend to not do small, one-off projects though so I'm not passively soliciting you. :)  I do know the arena though so could assist with recommendations.



31 Oct 2013 - 10:59am
Sean Pook

Deanna's suggestion of peer recommendations is spot on.

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