User Experience Consultant: Why You Need One or How to Become One
In recent years, with the individualization of personal computers and the increasing number of devices per person, more and more software companies have begun putting customers first.
While trying to understand the user and leverage the attention, user experience (UX) design services have become popular. The position of a user experience consultant combines what a UX designer did initially with analytics-based evidence.
In this article, we talk about:
- What the profession entails
- What skills you need
- And how you can pave your way through the field
Table of contents
- What Is a User Experience Consultant?
- What Does a UX Consultant Do?
- User Interface Design Specialist vs User Experience Consultant?
- How Do I Become a UX Consultant?
- Final Thoughts
What Is a User Experience Consultant?
User experience consultants work in software companies to improve the structural logic and usability of a digital product.
They operate closely with the whole team to identify problems, help understand the customer, and apply the gained data on product development.
The UX consulting process has a lot of moving parts. Thus the specialists need to be familiar with multiple industries and understand business goals. You might have the ideal product, but the customers might be less than excited about it.
The job of a UX consultant is to investigate user needs, find pain points, and gain insights to improve the business side on a more “zoomed out” level.
The 6 review stages of UX consulting services are:
- Product audit
- Target audience research
- Strategic plan
- Prototype creation
- Future-proof design
One of the first steps of the research is to identify the product’s goals. Especially with software as a service (SaaS) applications, the tiniest faults in the logic can interfere with user satisfaction. The consultant’s job is to do usability testing and find any issues that could challenge clients.
Target audience research
Product audit is noting if it’s not customer-centric. The first thing you need to do is to learn more about your clients. The user experience consultant should find ways to read your customers’ minds and build the best output for their needs.
At this stage, the UX consultant will be able to redefine your company’s mission from the customer’s point of view. Coming up with a value-based plan and explaining it to the rest of the team will be much easier.
At this point, the involvement of various departments in the company should grow. The UX team should develop the page layouts. UX designers should start working on brand representation.
Content managers and their crew should start producing textual output that speaks to the essence of digital products. At this point, everybody should be open to new ideas based on UX research performed above.
The prototype isn’t the final product. Usability tests should uncover new challenges, solving which can produce better results. Once the bases are ready, the next step is to ensure that the company and the application stay on track.
Thus, the consultant should provide a necessary development strategy and UX effectiveness key performance indicators (KPIs).
The direction for development can’t come without ongoing support. Staff members should also learn and grow in time. With hardware and software evolving, the primary function of a UX consultant is to ensure they keep the digital products aligned with the customer and the business growth vector.
What Does a UX Consultant Do?
The main focus of a UX consultant is to improve the adoption and engagement with your website, SaaS product, or app. Their goal is to make it easier to interact with your product.
But how do you know if the UX consultant you hired is doing a good job?
First of all, the improved sitemap and underlying logic should help your customer to navigate through the product. In most cases, you need the users to take specific actions during navigation to increase sales and improve conversions. UX professionals should focus on UX design components that nudge the user to click specific buttons.
Superior internal logic in an app or a website gives you better SEO and site visibility. The focus of a UX consultant should be to establish a solid underlying information architecture. Only then, the crew should build any design elements on it.
The better the product’s exposure, the easier it is to reach your target audience. This means that you’ll be able to spend less money to find customers.
The consultant also works with the UX design team to match the project branding to the customer expectations and company mission statement.
User Interface Design Specialist vs User Experience Consultant?
User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) have been used interchangeably for too long. While they have some overlap, the job descriptions of UI designers and UX consultants are distinct.
The interface design services deal with the execution of visual tasks and brand-specific solutions. UX consultants use more research- and strategy-oriented methods to the “bones” of the project. While the UX designer sees the next step in developing the product, the UX consultant needs to view the bigger picture.
How Do I Become a UX Consultant?
UX consultants focus on understanding the customer’s habits.
They take existing problems with usability and translate them into visual solutions.
Best user experience consultants are familiar with web design principles and have basic programming knowledge. In addition to hard skills, they also need to drive innovation while seeing the business development angle.
Whatever background you’re coming from, exceptional specialists should have technical and practical skills almost as though they were working for an innovation consulting agency.
Technical Skills for Careers in UX Consulting
Employees in UX consulting companies come from different backgrounds, including UX design and programming. They go through rigorous training to gain all these following skills necessary for their professional challenges:
- Graphic, visual, or UI design
- Computer science and web programming
- Information architecture
- Data analysis and resesarch
Graphic, Visual, or UI Design
You can step on the academic path and gain an associate or bachelor’s degree in design or an adjacent field. Another way is to transition with only course-based, non-degree training.
The most important thing is to have a deep understanding of design fundamentals. The main reason for that is suggesting a UX design solution that will solve a specific issue in the project.
Computer science and web programming
A background in programming is the second preferred field UX consultants come from. Once you know how the technical part works, communicating the issue to the team will be so much easier.
We’ve talked about UX consultants as those who build the backbone of the website. The base logic of the project is of the utmost importance to the company and the clients. Thus, a background in information architecture will help the UX consultant lay the logical foundation. On the latter, the UX teams can build the site further.
Data analysis and research
Having academic or practical knowledge in research methodologies and manipulating data covers the skillset that could greatly benefit the UX expert. It can help the business base solutions on user research and put customers at the heart of digital technology.
Practical Skills for Work Efficiency
In addition to the ones mentioned above, UX consultants need to be well versed in:
- Human psychology and communication strategies
- Human-computer interaction
- Business development and UX strategy
Human psychology and communication strategies
Knowing how users think and what they want to see in products is equal parts science and gut feeling. Usability testing and UX research create the roots for the application. At the same time, the UX design process is based on communicating the customer needs with the design and technical crew.
Reading the customer is one thing, but a great specialist should also understand the machines. They need to create efficient systems to ease human communication with their devices.
Business development and UX strategy
Consultants link the business owner, the software, and the users. An essential skill is to inspect the company’s challenges and turn them into opportunities through strategic thinking and fundamental business understanding.
From UX Designer to UX Expert
Now that we’ve discussed the skillset, here are a couple of ways you can pave your way from a UX designer or a programmer to a UX expert.
While all the mentioned backgrounds are essential for UX consultants, not one person can have all the skills at once. Whether you’ve got a technical, design, or research background, gaining the adjacent abilities in time and through experience are the way to transition into the field.
We recommend that you find an internship at a UX design agency first such as user experience design agencies in South Africa or somewhere closer to your area. Here you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of the industry.
If you’ve been a UX designer, adding the consultant skills in a UX consulting company while working is invaluable. Joining a UX consulting agency will give you the freedom to participate in projects and create products as a solution to issues users have. You’ll be able to follow UX research and pitch ideas to business owners.
Another path to becoming a UX consultant is to learn while doing small side projects. While this is a slower approach, insights you gain from getting involved with businesses could launch you into the field in a more personal way.
You might not be the best in the world yet, but if you can listen to your customers and help out their businesses, jobs will come one after the other. Your employers will be willing to recommend your services to others.
How Much Do User Experience Consultants Earn?
According to ZipRecruiter.com, UX consultants in the USA make an average of $86,830 a year. California, Massachusetts, and Washington boast the highest salary for UX consultants. The pay range deviates between $24,000 and $150,000 a year.
UX consultancy is more than offering design services. It’s a profession that applies a holistic approach to the business and the company. Through a user experience consultant, designers and technical crew are brought together around facts and UX research to create an outstanding product.