Congratulations! You’ve reached a milestone moment in your startup. You have a working product—whether it’s a prototype, a beta test, or a minimum viable effort—and now you’re ready to introduce your work to the world. But before you do, it’s time to involve a UX professional to ensure the product works seamlessly, elegantly, and predictably.

What should you keep in mind for your first—and most crucial—UX hire? We’ve put together five key pointers here. 

Bring on a designer sooner than you think.

For years, design was viewed as the final “gloss” applied to make a product desirable or visually appealing. In the digital age, design should be incorporated into the product development process from the very beginning—or at least before you launch a product. User experience design isn’t just about making a product look good. Successful UX design makes the product easier and more intuitive to use and solves common user frustrations and dead ends. 

For this reason, it’s important to bring on a UX team member sooner than you think, well before you’re ready to send out your product to the public. 

Create your job description

Think about exactly what you want your first UX design role to accomplish. After all, there is a lot that goes into creating an amazing user experience and not every designer has all the requisite skills to tackle everything. Start with your objectives: what is to be accomplished? Do you want this designer to do the research/discovery or the actual interaction/visual design? Will they be working with a front-end developer or engineer? Defining the specifications of the role and determining the needed skill set will help you interview and screen candidates more effectively.

Find a candidate who will grow with you.

Finding the right candidate for your first UX hire can be tricky. You could hire a contractor or freelancer for some last-minute fine-tuning, but you won’t benefit from the kind of long-lasting relationship that makes a product great. Instead, we recommend finding a candidate who can grow with your organization. For example, perhaps your first UX hire works for a small starting salary with equity or the chance to grow their portfolio. As your product grows and succeeds, they can take on additional responsibilities and eventually join the project team full-time. 

Understand what you’re talking about. 

While no UX designer will expect you to be fluent in industry jargon, having some familiarity with user experience design principles will make the process of working with a designer much easier. Luckily, it’s never been easier to learn about the field of UX design, even if you have no intention of ever becoming a designer yourself. Resources like Smashing Magazine, Usability.gov, UX Planet, and Laws of UX are great places to start. If you want to go deeper, check out online courses at platforms like Udemy, Udacity, and Skillshare.

Keep UX in mind from the beginning. 

You may not have the budget to hire a UX designer from the very beginning of your project. But always remember that user experience can play a major role in making or breaking a successful product experience. Ask friends and family to test your product throughout the development process and offer their feedback. If possible, share your product with outside users as soon as you can to gather their thoughts. Then, as soon as you can, hire a UX professional to join your team, even in a limited capacity.

Want some other perspectives on hiring your first UX role? Here are some thoughts from Startups.com and ProductPlan.

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