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As UX and usability become more well known, there is an unfortunate downside for clients and that is cowboys. These are people who have perhaps read a UX book and decide to set themselves up as experts. To help you spot the expert from the amateur i’ve created some handy hints. You don’t need to do all of these, just enough to satisfy you that the agency or freelancer knows their stuff and is genuine.
1. Check out their website Is it easy to use? Does it have clear call to actions? Are they using good copywrite? Does the layout of the text aid scanability? Is the navigation clear? Is the font readable? They should be practicing what they preach. If the site is badly designed, alarm bells should ring.
2. Read the About Us section Are they easily identifiable? (photo and name), Can you check their reputation and credibility via links to LinkedIn or Twitter? Read their experience closely – do they have professional qualifications and experience or are they a marketing company who have read a few books on the subject?
3. Check their Twitter posts Do they contribute to the world of usability by tweeting useful links? Do they help other people? Do they seem credible?
4. Check their Twitter followers Are they following and been followed by thousands of people? (they may have been on a mass following mission). Check who’s following them – if there are other agencies and usability professionals following them, they probably post good, knowledgeable tweets.
5. Read testimonials Get a feel for the type of person they are and how they work by what other clients thought.
6. Look at their previous work Ask to see their portfolio. This will give you a good idea of the standard of their work and what they are capable of.
7. Read their blog Owning and updating a blog deserves credit. It takes a lot of time and effort and shows it is important to them to give back to the profession. You can get a feel for the person and what they’re passionate about by what they write and the style they use.
8. Check their Facebook page How many people have joined their page? What have people posted on the wall?
9. Engage with them Email or talk to them. Prepare your questions if necessary.
10. Meet them Prepare your questions and more importantly see if you get along, after all, none of us want to work with people who we don’t click with.
5 thoughts on “10 Handy hints to check a ux agency or freelancer is genuine”
I also tend to believe the people who can describe the problem at hand in a very detailed manner. They way they speak about a problem tells a lot about their know-how, experience and professionalism.
Its interesting you mention Facebook in this list.
I tend to keep Facebook as far away from my work life as possible, using LinkedIn as the facefook equivalent for my professional life. I don’t know if anyone else does this also?
Keeping a blog is a massive commitment, the whole idea of having a publishing platform for frequent updates is very idealistic (I have fallen in this trap!), but practically very hard to maintain – specially when you develop a following, readers can become very demanding!
Dave, to be honest I completely agree with you but a lot of companies do have presence on Facebook. I’m the same as you – I keep Facebook for friends and LinkedIn and Twitter for business.
Haha you’re right, having a blog is a real pain sometimes but it also feels good to give something back. Hey, why don’t you try it? 😉
I guess I just see Facebook as a platform for reaching demographics of a much wider scope – i.e the masses – which is great for brands wishing to engage with their audience – in this respect Facebook is very important.
It does however have to be used correctly. I saw a very tacky movie trailer just yesterday with a call to action “Fan this movie on Facebook” – cringeworthy!
As for blogging – I write for our company blog (http://www.ixdstudio.com/blogs) but my own blog pretty much died a death a day after I started it – maybe should motivate myself to get it back on track!
I Agree with Dave!
Facebook is somewhere where I play and don’t want it associated with my work.
Regarding Blogging writing: I have had good intentions about this for a while, I’m not Freelance so I don’t really have downtime to fill or need to personally promote as much as someone who gets work in this way, But there are so many things I want to write about because it personally helps me to reflective, but I honestly don’t know when I have time to do this. I would like it to be part of my working day.
I have a Domain name and Ideas but not the time (I Believe) If I did write It would be infrequently and could look to a prospective lead quite thin on the ground. I’ve considered writing and submitting to a magazine or another blog that has multiple writers. Maybe that’s the best way to start.
I think It would also be a good idea to check their qualities and qualifications, I think anyone doing IXD /UX Should have a good understanding of basic cognitive psychology, and be interested in the user’s needs just as much as what you as a client may want or require: Understanding and satisfying the needs of the user in a usable, innovative and creative way will provide you with a website or product that will set you apart from your competition.