How to Hire a Designer for Your Project

To build an application, you need an interface, and to create an interface, you need a designer.

Thousands of startups bubble up every year. With an outstanding design, your application will have a higher chance of reaching success.

Why do you need to hire a designer?

Because good design can make it or break it for your app. Chances are, your idea isn’t unique — someone else has already tried to build a similar app, or is trying to right now. It’s not the idea that matters, it’s the execution, and design is 50% of execution.

A viable idea can thrive with a good enough application code. But skimp on design, and you might end up with a substandard result, an app that fails to meet a user’s expectations. And if that happens, the whole project could fold.

A designer knows this. They also know that good design solves problems. Tinder simplified dating when they boiled down the process to a left or right swipe. Uber simplified the taxi service when they enabled people to order a ride and track their ride’s location on a map with just a few clicks. Without a clear, simple user experience, these apps wouldn’t have gotten so much traction.

If you have interface design skills, you can, of course, take a crack at the design yourself. But it might be easier to delegate design work to somebody else while you focus on vision, strategic thinking, user research, marketing experiments — all of the tasks that only you can do.

Should you hire a junior or senior designer?

Usually, you have two options: hire a junior designer who’s ready to start working tomorrow, or hire a senior designer who’s more experienced. The catch with the senior designer is that you’ll probably have to wait for them and pay them twice as much.

I’d say, hire a senior designer if you can afford it. Junior designers, like any junior staff, need guidance and a clear set of tasks. You probably either won’t have time to guide them and break down their tasks, or you just won’t know what they should do. It’s better to hire someone who’s able to guide you instead and tell you how to create a proper design workflow. Otherwise, you might run into bigger issues as a result of an immature design. Remember that it’s easy to make changes in design, but hard to make them in code.

That said, if you need to hire multiple designers, then you have more flexibility. One senior designer can onboard and train several juniors. That way, you’ll reap the benefits of both options.

Where do you find UI/UX designers?

Interface and user experience specialists can be found wherever you hire developers. Here are a few starting points.

Clutch — If you’re short on time and have the budget, consider hiring an agency. If nobody from your network can suggest an agency to work with, you can head to Clutch to find a local firm.

Dribbble, Toptal, and Upwork — If you want to hire remote workers, you can check out creatives on dribbble, or conduct a search on popular freelancer marketplaces like Upwork and Toptal. Just be sure to filter out unprofessional applications and make sure you’re hiring the right person by interviewing each promising candidate over video.

How do you hire the right person?

Understand who you’re looking for

If you’re looking for someone who can design an application for you, then you need a UI/UX designer. If you include “UX” in a job description, it means you’re looking for someone with a deep understanding of user research and user experience, not just someone who can create visually appealing interface screens. In other words, someone who will design how an app works. Not just how it looks.

Create a moodboard

Your designer will want some input from you regarding your taste. Prepare a moodboard with a set of designs you like, including links to relevant applications or websites. And before hiring a designer, check to see if their portfolio matches the style you like.

Ask for a portfolio

A portfolio can reveal a lot about a potential hire. Yes, it showcases a person’s work — but it also gives you insight into their personality and attention to detail. Is the portfolio designed and organized well? Does it feel like the person went the extra mile to prepare it? Or did they simply archive a folder with screenshots and email it to you?

Schedule a video interview

You need to make sure that you can communicate easily with your designer, and if you’re hiring a remote worker, there’s no better way to test this than setting up a video interview. Again, look for little details. Did they show up on time? Does it look like they just woke up, or do you feel like they’re prepared for you? What’s their tone like? Do you enjoy talking with this person?

Ask questions

First and foremost, you should ask your potential hire to describe what, in their perspective, the role of a UX designer is. Too many designers out there don’t know the difference between UI and UX. You need someone who can conduct user research for you and create an optimal experience for the users that they’ve researched.

Another good question would be to ask about a problem they’ve solved that improved UX, but was barely noticeable by users.


Hiring a designer can be tough. But it’s totally worth it to go through the effort of finding the right one. When you do begin working, make sure that you stay organized and keep track of all the designer’s tasks, changes, file versions, and source files. You can either use a cloud tool like Figma to store everything in the cloud or use something like Sketch and store versions of your design files in a shared Google Doc folder. If you’re looking for a way to easily manage your process, check out Trello.


Originally published at The Startup: Build something awesome