Today’s most influential product ideas are almost always conceived because someone, somewhere, perceives a human need and resolves to fill it. When an established business identifies opportunity for innovation, it’s often because it is witnessing in-house inefficiencies or customer pain points. Both are great motivators to innovate, and resulting concepts have the potential to become a source of dependency for an entire industry [WIN!].

Unfortunately, many of these viable concepts die after time and money have been poured into a product without a UX strategy. Sometimes, it’s because stakeholders don’t understand the value user-centered design brings to a project. But we’re at a point on the curve where most CTOs are privy to the benefits of UX—they just don’t have the human resources to execute a sound UX process.

A Nielsen Norman Group study found that there are 50,000 UX professionals in the world. That sounds like a reasonable pool of talent—until you’re confronted with the estimation that the need exceeds seven million. And because few colleges and universities have programs to train up effective UX practitioners straight out of the gate, it’s taking awhile to fill those positions with qualified candidates.

If you are looking for UX help, consider hiring an experience agency. They’ve already sifted through the “wannabes” and acquired a group of real UX experts who can work with you to deliver a successful user experience to your customers.

Here are three qualities to look for in a UX partnership:

1. You want to partner with a UX agency that is inquisitive

Your first meeting with a potential partner should be primarily about you, your product, and your customers. If the UX firm genuinely expects to provide a return on your investment, the people there will exhibit a hunger to understand your product idea and business goals.

Even more telling, they will want to get to know your customers at a meaningful level. As tempting as it may be to sign on with a firm that wants to jump right into solutioning, a reliable UX team will encourage adequate user research before you spend too much time and money on a concept not validated by end users.

2. You want to partner with a UX agency that is consultative

A consultant is a professional advisor, not a steamroller. A healthy UX partnership is one in which the UX practitioners offer strategic guidance based on business goals and provide implementation solutions to support that strategy.

You want to work with a UX team that operates with the understanding that your investment in UX should be less than your ROI.

Consultative UX professionals are strategic. Look for a team that provides a product analysis, along with a 10,000 foot view of product success coupled with a 100 foot view outlining the roadmap and timeline for achieving your end goal.

3. You want to partner UX agency that advocates for the end user

This one is a no-brainer. You know your product’s success is ultimately reliant on user adoption. Why hire UX experts if the user isn’t a primary focus?

To be true user advocates, experience designers have to understand user goals and motives. That’s why a reliable UX agency promotes research, persona development and user testing as essential steps of product development. These customer-centered steps in the design process are drivers for goal-directed design. They’re necessary in order for the product team to build empathy for a user’s existing mental model (a user’s approach to a product-related scenario).

Inquisitive. Consultative. User advocate. Find a UX agency with these qualities, and you and your users will be in good hands.

Not sure where to start? At Visual Logic, we do our best to embody these qualities. Take a look at our process and some of our work. If you think we are a group you’d like to work with or just have a question, we’d love to hear from you! Start a conversation.