Why hiring external UX services even when you have an in-house UX team?
November 18, 2022
You may be wondering - If I already have an in-house UX team, why would I need to hire an external UX consultancy?
Well, one is not exclusive of the other. Even if you have an in-house UX design team, there might be times when additional resources and professional know-how can be useful.
The need to hire an external UX consultancy may arise when:
- the internal team is overloaded — maybe you have a small team working who can’t take on new company projects;
- the internal team may lack the expertise to handle a few complexities of the project.
In such cases, bringing in an external UX team might be exactly what you need for your company to excel in all projects. Let’s go over a few key reasons for hiring an external team to conduct your UX research or set your design strategy.
Unbiased user feedback
We all have biases. When it comes to UX research, they inadvertently affect both the way we conduct research and the way our participants respond to us. When research is conducted in-house the chances of obtaining inaccurate feedback are higher. We need to be aware these biases will occur so to avoid them when conducting research.
Social desirability bias: Even if users tested some feature and they found it hard to go by, they might feel obligated to say kind things about the product or service. This is because people are aware that they are being interviewed by the team who designed it or is somehow involved with its development.
This unconscious tendency to seem likeable and be accepted is called the social desirability bias or friendliness bias — meaning the user will answer the way they think is expected by the researcher. Users are more likely to give a higher rating to a new feature because they think it’s what you want to hear and they’re uncomfortable giving unfavourable feedback face to face.
How to overcome it? This type of bias can be avoided by taking the team who designed the product or service from the picture and having someone from outside the team to moderate research. In this case the external researchers can make users know they were not the ones responsible for designing the product, making people more comfortable with sharing their honest (even if negative) feedback.
Confirmation bias: People have a tendency to prefer or interpret information that confirms their existing beliefs and to overlook information that contradicts it, even if that information is factual.
For example, if your team has been working on an e-commerce app for the past few months, you’re more likely to believe in usability findings that say users can navigate it well and disregard any evidence that shows they are having trouble proceeding to checkout.
How to overcome it? One of the ways to avoid this is having an external partner conducting research. The external research team can put together a test script that includes unbiased questions, and since they have no emotional involvement with the product it’s easier for them to be impartial and interpret findings as is, rather than in favour of some previous assumption.
When it comes to UX research preconceptions must be avoided at all costs as biased research can lead to wrong decisions about the path to take, and have a major impact on the products and business.
Honest guidance and clean objectivity
When working with people from your company you might refrain from saying exactly what you really think because it makes you feel uncomfortable, specially when the person you have to give negative feedback to is a manager or the person who had the idea in the first place.
Depending on the organisation environment, you might also fear some kind of repercussions. In many organisations, the opinion of person with a senior role, or the highest paid person’s opinion (the ‘hippo’ as commonly said), overlaps the opinion of other team members, who are too scared to question their wisdom.
An external partner will be in a better position to be brutally honest and to say no if that’s what’s needed to avoid making critical, costly mistakes.
Bringing in an external team with an unbiased, objective opinion, free from company politics, can open the door to opportunities that could have otherwise been overlooked, as they have no problem with questioning decisions. They can help the UX voice of the organisation be heard by validating the ideas of the in-house team.
Then there’s the emotional aspect. When you’re part of the development process of a product, you get emotionally involved with it and have a set of subjective ideas. That connection can make internal teams too insular and unable to see past their opinions. An external consultant has the necessary distance from the project and is not set on specific ideas. They will provide an outside perspective to break past long-held, subjective assumptions.
More hands on deck to speed things up
A small internal UX team might get overwhelmed with multiple projects on their plate, jeopardising project quality and on time delivery. Outsourcing the workload might be the answer when you’re short on resources or time. The external team can jump in to get work done faster. Multiple brains will be working simultaneously to achieve the best results in the shortest time possible.
Exceptional UX skill set
While the in-house team might lack the expertise to handle a few complexities of the project, an external team has a broad experience working in a wide range of projects across multiple fields and industries. They are generally highly trained teams who stay up-to-date with the latest practices in the UX field.
By working collaboratively, the internal team can also hone their skills as there’s a natural knowledge sharing between both teams.
Easier team scalability
Building effective products should involve different areas of expertise and unless you’re constantly designing new products or redesigning existing ones, there won’t be enough work to keep such a dedicated team. An inconsistent workload makes it hard to scale an internal team.
The process of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding and training UX professionals takes time. According to BambooHR, an onboarding process should last about 90 days so that your employee is comfortable doing their job as expected and can contribute meaningfully to the project.
An external consultancy can easily scale their team up or down depending on the project needs. When there’s a work overload, external teams can simply join more hands on deck to deliver the project on time. They can also adapt to the expertise you need help with, from Research to UI Design or Information Architecture. With internal teams, more hands on deck often means going through a long recruiting period.
If workloads tend to fluctuate, internal teams might eventually sit idle between projects. With an external team that’s not an issue. You won’t be paying for downtimes, only effective working hours.
When it comes to recruitment, you’ll not risk over-hiring a design team that represents a continuous expense.
A fresh pair of eyes
When in-house teams work on a single product or project within the same brand it’s only normal that their creativity hits a snag. The longer people work on a particular project or within the same industry, the more perspective they lose. This tunnel vision will prevent them from seeing opportunities hidden in plain sight.
Internal teams also tend to become too familiar with the project which can prevent them to find a solution. An external team hasn’t been immersed in the project so they bring a fresh pair of eyes and can present new insights to get things moving along.
Collaborating towards the same goal
An external team should be seen as an extension of your in-house team, not a replacement. They can jump on a project when the internal team doesn’t have the time to take on yet another project, or when you need specialised UX research and strategy that might not be within the capabilities of the in-house team.
External teams rely on their creativity, wide experience, and up-to-date practices to provide unbiased advice and an objective approach, free from internal politics and corporate dynamics. Their main goal is to make sure the outcome is beneficial for your business while delivering a solution within the time frame.
Credits: Illustrations by phc.vector on Freepik (adapted)
Looking for an external UX partner?
At Xperienz, we can help your team create a product or service that meets the needs of both your users and your business. Our services spread across three main areas - Research, Strategy and Design.
If you're about to launch a new product or need to boost up a project, we can help.Tell me more
Why hiring external UX services even when you have an in-house UX team?
Even if you have an in-house UX design team, there might be times when additional resources and professional know-how can be useful. Bringing in an external UX team might be exactly what you need for your company to excel in all projects.
Health and UX: when design has a life-saving potential
A good experience with healthcare technology and services, that is both useful, accessible and reliable, can make a huge different in improving peoples’ well-being, as well as the work of healthcare professionals.
Trust — Breaking or Building it Through Design
Trust is more valuable now than ever. 68% say trusting a brand they buy or use is more important today than in the past (Edelman, 2019). We live in an ever-growing digitalised world, where we increasingly interact and transact online. At the same time we constantly crave for trust-based interactions in digital environments. Questions like "Will the personal data I provide here be misused?", " Will my email be used to spam me incessantly?" or "Do I really want to share my bank details to a website I've never heard about?" have certainly come to our mind more than once.
Innovation Sprint — Exploring and validating a business direction in 2 to 4 weeks
During an Innovation Sprint, a new method created by Xperienz, the Sprint team joins efforts with the organisation team and in 2 weeks (minimum) they identify three strategic business directions, taking into account the organisation’s current state and structure. These innovative ideas are prototyped and tested and in the end the organisation will know the best path to follow.
Creating accessible digital experiences
Accessibility is of major importance for organisations who deliver web products and tools. Accessibility issues can affect not only a website’s usability for people who have disabilities but also for those who don’t. By offering accessible products, organisations will show they are inclusive, reach a wider market, be legally compliant, and offer a better user experience. For everyone.
"You're on Mute" - Lessons Learned After a Year of Conducting Remote User Research
After more than one year of engaging with users remotely, we want to reflect on the pitfalls of remote user research, share some of the lessons we learned and reflect on what’s going to be “the next normal” after Covid’s impact.
Quick & Dirty User Research
Tight timescales and budgets are no excuses to ditch user research altogether, specially when we all know it’s essential to make sure you deliver easy-to-use products. Quick and dirty research is a great way to get user insights fast and on a budget.
How bad metrics are hurting your business and your users’ experience
Businesses are deceiving themselves and annoying their customers as a consequence. They do so when they apply biased surveys only expecting to confirm what they want to hear.
UX Writing — Create better experiences with better content
Imagine a website or an app with no words. If it wasn’t for the logo, would you be able tell what this page is about? Would you know which button to click? Where navigation would take you? What you’re supposed to write in the search bar? No matter how good-looking an interface is, without words users will simply not be able to accomplish any tasks in it.
10 Bad User Research Practices You Will Want to Avoid
Some might think user research is as simple as watching people perform a few tasks on a website or asking them a few questions, but user research is definitely not walk in the park. Let’s go through some of the mistakes that can arise when planning and conducting research.
Can the same illustration be used the same way on a desktop screen, on a tablet or on a smartphone? How is it possible to make them look great on every screen without losing quality or the idea the brand is trying to convey?
UXLx Masters — Wrap-up
From 10 to 13 February attendees from 25 countries and 14 world-renowned UX experts joined online for 3 days of learning. The programme included 12 live masterclasses, 2 keynotes, 2 live podcasts, and more.
The Design Role in Digital Transformation
As the world keeps evolving and digital becomes more crucial to our everyday life, companies are feeling pressured to keep up and level up their game.
Remote UX Research — our selection of the best online tools to conduct it
As a company that focus on UX research and design, we gathered some of the best tools to conduct remote research and combined them, with our personal knowledge, in this article.
Why We Need Parametric UI Design Tools
In Design, parametric refers to a process based on algorithmic thinking that uses parameters and their interrelations to define a geometric form (which can be buttons, containers, panels, etc.).
Health Habits during the Lockdown
Xperienz, along with 15 other agencies from the global network of user research companies UX Fellows, conducted an intercultural study in 15 different countries about health and wellbeing during the lockdown caused by the current pandemic situation.