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This article was published on July 7, 2017

Finding the best UX designers: how the world’s top companies do it

Finding the best UX designers: how the world’s top companies do it
George Beall

Over the last decade, the structure of traditional businesses has been challenged by an increasingly digitized professional landscape. An accelerating mobile workforce has resulted in attracting and retaining top talent to becoming a perpetual procedure for the majority of businesses. Even the most established companies are being pushed to adapt to changing worker’s needs, catering to a more dynamic and flexible workforce as we settle into the digital age.

While the digital economy has certainly challenged the conventional workforce, it has also seen the culmination of a boom in tech talent, markedly in the fields of user experience and design. Over the last 5 years, UX design has blossomed, and there are now over 900,000 user experience professionals currently registered on Linkedin. Companies today recognize the value of having a good UX guru on their team, as accomplished design can increase conversion rates and drive consumer interest, among other important metrics.

Here are how some of the world’s most successful companies access the most talented UX designers on the market today.

They don’t limit themselves

In the past, finding new talent was largely dependent on internal networks and word-of-mouth recommendations. While these are still perfectly legitimate ways to source new talent, some of the world’s most prominent businesses are recognizing the benefit of diversifying their network. Thanks to the development of advanced communication tools and connected technologies, even corporate giants like Paypal are working with contractors in order to increase access to the best talent available.

They look for thought leaders

Today, there is a wealth of freelance job platforms that provide diversified networks of freelance UX designers that specialize in everything from product design to social enterprise. Companies like Toptal, which was established just seven years ago and is one of the top freelance platforms in the world, are thought leaders in providing businesses with a diverse network of freelance talent. Employers are granted the opportunity to review each approved designer’s CV, as well as past project experience in order to streamline the hiring process. Toptal also employs a team of experts to carefully vet each freelancer that is part of their network, in addition to providing talent-matching services. Other platforms, like veteran talent platform Freelancer, which offers a comprehensive talent network that also promotes freelancers by allowing them to showcase their skills through contests. Those on the lookout for a new team member can keep on eye on any UX competitions that match their ideal candidate portfolio to find the freelancer with the both relevant experience and quality technical skills.

In addition to freelance marketplaces, businesses also extend their search to designer communities based all around the world. While the majority of design communities function as peer to peer networks that aim to help designers hone their skills and improve their portfolios, there are plenty that provide job boards and career networks with the purpose of connecting users to potential employers.

They invest in their employees 

Companies that attract the best and brightest know it takes a lot more than offering a big paycheck. This means investing not just financially, but also in employee well-being. Companies that invest in their employees are more likely to attract top talent, based on a variety of factors from offering a balanced working environment to fair compensation. By breaking down each element of the potential responsibilities carried out by a user experience designer, you will be able to comprise a budget that meets current industry standards. In addition, more detailed analysis of tasks will help you identify what profile to look for.


Task Result Hourly Rate
User Research Gathering information regarding what users expect and need, boosting the overall chances of a successful product


50 USD
Personas Personas help the UX designer realize the mock-up based on the profiles of potential users. These profiles are created based on the information gathered during the research phase


50 USD
Design The process of transforming wireframes into mockups, moving into the final stages of product development


100-200 USD
Product usability Gathering real-time data and information testing the product with actual users which promote awareness and improves the product based on user feedback


30-50 USD
Follow up/ Maintenance It’s always wise to budget in routine maintenance TBD



These numbers are based on the average hourly rate charged by freelance UX designers across several platforms

Depending on the complexity of your project, you can make a salary estimate based on the price of individual tasks that will define your designer’s position, such as cost of market research, wireframing, product testing and maintenance.

They know what they’re looking for

While it is the job of a UX designer to know user experience inside and out, and it’s the primary reason you are hiring them, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a solid grasp on what you are looking for during the vetting process. Before you start lining up potential candidates, take a moment to do your research and familiarize yourself with the position and the capabilities that a highly qualified designer should possess. Toptal provides various resources that are crafted specifically to help employers streamline the hiring process. Based on these resources, some of the key things to remember during the hiring process should include:

  • Craft a list of essential interview questions that cover the candidates design process, their knowledge of current industry trends and their approach to problem solving
  • Educate yourself on the common mistakes made by UX designers so you can be aware of what to keep an eye out while reviewing portfolios and during a skills test
  • Review a UX designer hiring guide that highlights what you should and can expect a UX professional to accomplish on a technical level, in addition to helping you assess which skills you will need most.

Utilizing these resources crafted by industry experts will help you understand the breadth of a UX designer’s skill sets and allow you to identify your specific needs, making the interview process much more accurate and efficient.

While the majority of user experience designers have a variety of skills under their belts, don’t expect them to be a unicorn. Some of the above-mentioned tasks are often split between user experience designers and user interface designers. While UX and UI designers often collaborate, it’s important to differentiate between the two positions.  To ensure that you are appealing to the best UX professionals out there, it’s imperative that you provide a balanced working environment that respects their capabilities and promotes growth within your company.

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