How to hire UI designers
A slick user interface (UI) is a core part of delivering a smooth user experience (UX). If you’re looking for a freelancer who can make those menus, forms, and buttons pop, a UI designer can help.
So how do you find UI design consultants? What follows are some tips on how you can find top UI designers on Upwork.
How to shortlist UI design professionals
As you’re browsing available UI design consultants, it can be helpful to develop a shortlist of the freelancers you may want to interview. You can screen profiles on criteria such as:
- Portfolio. You want a UI designer whose aesthetic sensibilities match the direction you wish to take your brand, a portfolio is a good place to see what they can do.
- Communication. A UI designer needs to be able to effectively communicate the UX designer’s user journeys and research into fleshed out designs.
- Feedback. You can get a feel for what it’s like to work with a UI designer by checking reviews from past clients for red flags or glowing testimonials.
How to write an effective UI design job post
With a clear picture of your ideal UI designer in mind, it’s time to write that job post. Aim to provide enough detail for a freelancer to know if they’re the right fit for the project.
An effective UI design job post should include:
- Scope of work: From site navigation to content layout, list all the deliverables you’ll need.
- Project length: Your job post should indicate whether this is a shorter or larger project.
- Background: Translate your UI design needs into a candidate profile. If you prefer experience working with certain industries, software, or marketing channels, mention this here.
- Budget: Set a budget and note your preference for hourly rates vs. fixed-price contracts.
Ready to create a UI design that will help you maximize the effectiveness of your marketing campaign? Log in and post your UI design job on Upwork today. Looking to set up a Website but not sure how much money it will take? Use Upwork's Free Website Cost Calculator tool to estimate costs associated with setting up a website - Website Design, development, and functionality.
UI DESIGNERS FAQ
What is UI design?
From dropdown menus, to login forms, and call-to-action buttons—UI design is about creating the visual elements that make up the front-end of your app. They use color, shape, texture, typography, and layout to create UIs that are not only visually appealing, but also simple and easy to use.
Here’s a quick overview of the skills you should look for in UI design freelancers:
- Graphic design tools such as Adobe CC (e.g.,InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop)
- Wireframing and prototyping tools such as Sketch
- Ability to transform user guides and storyboards from a UX designer into visual front-end elements
- Design research
A UI designer can content layouts, sliders, and other elements that make your app look amazing.
Why hire UI designers?
The trick to finding top UI designers is to identify your UI design needs. Do you need help creating visual elements for a single page application (SPA), a mobile app, or a progressive web app (PWA)?The cost of your project will depend largely on your scope of work, and the specific skills needed to bring your project to life.
How much does it cost to hire a UI designer?
Depending on the complexity of your UI, doing this well may require the overlapping expertise of a few disciplines: developer, analyst, designer, researcher, and marketer. With these insights and understanding, a UI designer can help to create a product that responds to your user’s actions with clarity, efficiency, and purpose.
Rates can vary due to many factors, including expertise and experience, location, and market conditions. Learn about the cost to hire a UI designer.
7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a UI Designer
Engaging a user interface (UI) designer to help your design team develop your app or site’s UI? There’s a lot of amazing UI talent out there to choose from, but when you’re not a UI design pro yourself, it can be tricky to know what to look for or what your project needs most.
Because UI design tends to overlap with UX, mobile, and web design, finding a great UI designer then clicking “Hire” won’t always ensure you’re getting the specific help you need. There’s a bit more to it, as well as some common pitfalls to avoid.
1. Misunderstanding what a UI designer actually does
If you’re not sure what you need, you’re not going to get who you need. And it’s easy to confuse web design, UI design and UX design—which can lead to a job post that misses the mark. If your job post is unclear, a UI designer will be, too. As a result, great talent could decide not to submit a proposal.
A UI designer plays an integral part in developing the interactive features your end-users interact with, and they can play a critical role in making your digital product a success. On paper, it might look like they just design layouts. But in reality, they’re key in deciding many aspects of the design, navigation, menus, gestures, and subtle animations that help users along their way.
2. Making a decision on visuals (not process or results) alone
UI is definitely about design, but top rated-UI/UX designer Kyle Sandstrom said, “It isn’t necessarily beautiful design.” He notes that there’s a lot to UI design that doesn’t meet the eye.
Finding a UI designer that fits the bill means going beyond the visual aspects of their portfolio to try and uncover the reasoning behind a design. “Look for the thought process behind a design—behind the end product,” Sandstrom explained. “When you get a sense for the thought behind the work, not just font and color palette, you’ll understand the ‘why’ of a design. It’s a distinction someone is going the extra mile.”
He added that, in some cases, practicality can win over aesthetics. At the end of the day, you want the design to work well—not just look nice.
“Look for problems they solved and how they solved them,” he added. That includes metrics or reviews that demonstrate the overall effectiveness of a project. Because in the end, customers will be your biggest barometer of success. An application may appear sleek and spectacular within a portfolio, but that doesn’t mean users felt the same.
3. Not having a budget for your project
Not having a budget for your project, or hiding it in the job post, can narrow the range of talent who submit proposals for your project. Why? Because having a budget can help the UX designer determine the level of experience you’re looking for and decide the best processes to recommend in order to get the best results and value for you.
Tip: Your timelines and deadlines factor into this calculation, too. A UX designer will often look to these details to understand the context of your project as well as your expectations; omitting them from your job post leaves the experts guessing.
4. Limiting your search to local design talent only
When tapping into flexible talent, your first inclination may be to try and hire a UI designer who’s still local. However, with all of the cloud-based collaborative design software and prototyping platforms today, designers can provide mockups and input seamlessly—without being onsite.
Tools like Sketch, InVision, and RedPen—an annotated feedback tool—allow designers, developers, and marketers anywhere in the world to collaborate on the same design. And in some cases, it’s more efficient than working it out on paper.
Going remote can remove a lot of geographic barriers to talent and provide access to designers you might not otherwise know were out there. That gives you a world of candidates to choose from with the skills, experience, and work style you’re looking for.
5. Communication breakdown
Who else is on your design and development team and how will they collaborate with the UI designer? This is important—and the team should meet early on to decide the cadence and who will be involved in which stage. Without a plan for communication throughout the project, it can be too easy for key information from other stakeholders to be missed, leading to decisions that may or may not work for the final product.
Also, consider timing and collaboration. You don’t want to bring a UI designer on too late or phase them out too soon. And you want to have the right processes and tools in place to help them be effective no matter where they’re located.
6. Not providing the designer with adequate data and analytics
A great UI designer will want a good brief and then some—data, analytics, and all the personas and background information you have on your customers. This is how they get inside the mind of the user and create the kind of digital experience that can give users what they’re looking for (and accomplish your business goals).
In fact, a good portion of top designers will not even accept a project without solid user experience data to help guide them from the very start. Be sure you have access to this data lined up and ask the designer what information they need for your project to be successful. Leaving data up to chance will leave your design up to chance, too.
7. Giving user feedback low priority
A talented UI designer takes a lot into the consideration of a final design, and the least of which will never be user research. But all too often, aesthetics, ego, and a passion for design that “wows” can outweigh insights from customers. And that’s who you’re trying to please.
Sandstrom advised that it’s helpful to keep the tangible details in your sights. “In some ways, UI design is easier to evaluate than visual design, because you can focus on outcomes and changes vs. subjective aspects like color and visual design.”
UI vs. UX: How are they different and which do you need?
It’s not uncommon for there to be quite a bit of overlap between UI and UX designers because their goals are the same: To ensure an excellent user experience and for an app or site to accomplish what it set out to do.
Generally, the two roles are defined as
- User experience design: UX focuses on how people interact with products, brands, and layouts. For a digital project, this can mean creating a framework for a site or app. A UX designer leverages usability testing and user feedback to create wireframes for a digital experience using data, competitor analysis, and customer feedback. They then make a blueprint for a UI that fully addresses customer needs and preferences.
- User interface design: UI creates the design around the framework. It starts with the UX blueprint (wireframes), then designs the interactive elements needed for users to navigate through the experience with as little friction as possible. This includes buttons, dropdown menus, navigation, layout and typography, as well as elements like photography and video. A UI designer focuses on the functionality and overall visual elements that help a user accomplish what they’re there to do.
The roles aren’t always broken out, so what’s most important is finding someone who can tackle your particular problem.