Writing

January, 2024

What Does a UX Consultant Do?

Includes UX Practitioner

The role of a UX Consultant is often seen as an equivalent to “UX Practitioner” or “UX Lead”. But these roles carry different weight and cover different sets of expected responsibilities within an organisation. From what I’ve seen over the years, I’d also argue that “UX Practitioner” has been used as a platitude to keep any UX related role as undefined as possible. Others may disagree with this position.

UX Consultants need to have exceptional verbal and communication skills. Their work depends on empathy, understanding the client and their needs, wishes and expecations, technical and formal requirements and understanding the end customer, which means they work with UCD principles.

UX Consultants bring it all together; it is their job to join ideas, requirements and concepts and to make sure that the products and services resulting from the UX development process will adhere to the standards expected by their employers. To achieve this, they rely on UCD principles, established research methods and processes such as the Double Diamond and workshops for the Discovery and Definition phases of the process.

A UX Consultant may be less often involved in visual or UI design, but they can take over prototyping and testing tasks, especially for the definition of user flows.

In some scenarios UX Consultants are hired part-time or sent to am organisation, and they’re embedded in the organisation structure until the project or projects they were hired for have been fully executed or resolved. UX Consultants come in as advisors who bring experience, skills and knowledge internal teams may not have. They can complement the teams, or bring in completely new concepts and ideas.

Here are a few responsibilities and requirements I see associated with the role of a UX Consultant:

Responsibilities

  • Client needs evaluation
  • Client consultation
  • Client presentations
  • Workshops for Discovery and Definition phases
  • Coordination with feature architects, product owners and product managers
  • Contribute to, develop UX strategy
  • Conceptual design direction
  • UX project management
  • Customer research
  • Research analysis
  • Product UX testing, usability testing
  • Test results analysis and recommendation

Requirements

  • Higher education with degree in design, computer science or equivalent in experience
  • Minimum of two years UX design or consulting experience
  • Exceptional conceptual and processing capabilities
  • Exceptional communication and collaboration skills
  • Great in organisation and analytical skills
  • Experience with software product design, user experience, user interface
  • Up-to-date knowledge of current technologies, systems, methods, patterns and tools
  • Ability to resolve complex design and communication issues

Related or Similar Roles

Hiring Mistakes

Resist the temptation to select only people from the top crop of applicants. Only because these candidates check off on every point of your requirements and have a degree from a prestigious university, they are not necessarily your best option. For a guiding UX role, someone with an ability to learn and adapt, who possesses a sense for strategic thinking and who is great in communication, may serve you better than a candidate that looks perfect on paper.

Don’t fall for the trap of trying to hire a one-person band. It’s great if you find someone who has experience in research, workshops, studies, analysis, user journeys, user flows and animated click-through prototypes. But it backfires if you want them to do everything and all at once. Specialised professions and leadership roles have their place in this field for good reasons.