Eight Best Practices – UI/UX Staffing by Stage

By The Intersect Group

Find UI/UX Talent

As your company builds and executes a digital transformation plan, strategy often begins at the top, with your company’s C-level team, then filtered down through your organization. Many times, these strategies are unaccompanied by the goals and mile markers that would ensure success as you hire staff to support the transformation. It’s clear that positive outcomes (and the increased profitability derived from these efforts) depend on the clear communication of and alignment around goals.

This is especially true in the creation and execution of a UI/UX hiring strategy—while guidance around the team’s eventual projects and goals may come from above, UI/UX hiring managers are responsible not only for defining the talent needed, but ensuring that talent understands the connection between the work they’re doing and the business’s overall digital transformation strategy. The bottom line? Profitable digital transformation isn’t built on top-down strategy alone. It depends heavily on the view from a UI/UX hiring manager’s vantage point.


Digital Maturity Translates to Financial Growth

A recent “digital readiness” survey of 1,000 companies by Bain & Company found that a company’s digital maturity level was directly linked to profitability.

  • Revenues for companies in the “digitally mature” category grew 14 percent over the last three years.
  • Digitally slow-to-start companies showed less than half of that growth.
  • 83 percent of the “digitally mature” companies saw increased profit margins over the reported period.
  • Fewer than half of the slow-to-start peers saw similar gains.

It’s clear from these results that early investment in a strong digital transformation strategy is key. However, what’s less clear is the role that a talent/hiring strategy plays in this success. A staggering 32 percent of organizations have reported recruiting employees with the appropriate digital skills is their biggest challenge in terms of digital transformation. Staffing up a team in the digital space can prove challenging, if not paralyzing. The first step is to remove the confusion around digital transformation itself, defining the stages creates clarity. Once you know where you are, you can deploy hiring best practices that will result in a UI/UX team with the skills to take you to the next level of your digital transformation.


Digital Transformation, Stage by Stage

Before the building of a UI/UX team can begin, it is critical to define your current digital stage. By familiarizing yourself with the goals and experiences that define each stage, you’ll be more prepared to take next steps and build your long-term hiring plan for moving through subsequent stages.


1. Initiating 

At this stage

Teams just embarking on their digital destiny need to ensure that they have the digital marketing technology expertise to make critical, foundational decisions regarding their customer journey and how to beat or mirror their competition to provide a best-in-class experience.


The decisions being made within the digital team are related to architecture, UX and design vision, timeline to deliver certain milestones, and project prioritization.

Hiring challenges

Building a team that balances the right mix of internal and external resources is a challenge—success begins with understanding your current team’s capabilities and complementing those capabilities with external resources. Ensuring an internal resource plan for continuity of digital asset implementation at this stage is key—concerns around knowledge ownership and transfer are typically higher at this stage, as key decisions and projects delivered by external resources need to be transferred to internal teams.


2. Innovating

At this stage

Teams have some digital foundation and are tasked with innovating a key digital asset or process.


High-priority projects with significant C-suite scrutiny typify this stage.  Transformational projects that provide immediate revenue improvement or cost reduction top the list. Leveraging Internet of Things (IoT), mobility solutions, and machine learning are progressive technology initiatives that often require different skillsets than those of the existing digital team.

Hiring challenges

Challenges can arise when it comes to finding talent that represents the cutting-edge skill necessary to introduce new technologies and processes. New team members must also demonstrate an ability to balance internal business experience with the collaborative behaviors required to bring these initiatives to reality and results realization.


3. Integrating

At this stage

As digital assets mature to include business process, merging or integrating takes precedence. Integrating legacy systems with new platforms, the merging of disparate data sources, and creating alignment across business functions are key.


At this stage, maneuvering around strict technical limitations and abilities for systems that house critical data and complying with data sovereignty rules make architecting and developing integrated solutions more difficult. Precious time is spent in creating alignment around common solutions, requiring collaboration among traditional IT teams, functional or divisional business leaders, and the digital team. Savvy designers and front-end developers are required to build seamless experiences across platforms.

Hiring challenges

Finding the right blend of skill sets to build a results-driven production team becomes a common pain point at this stage. As requirements ramp up, resources (money, time, and effort) may be under-budgeted based on unknowns that may only be uncovered after the work begins. Under-budgeting can segue into challenges with internal approvals; requests may get tied up in bureaucratic processes, delaying success, results, and other projects in queue.


4. Inheriting and maintaining

At this stage

Many companies outsource the building of new platforms and systems to digital and technology consulting agencies, or they stand up special teams that roll away after delivering a new solution. It’s often more cost efficient for businesses to operate and maintain these new platforms internally.


Solutions developed may be MVP (minimum viable products) or “first drafts,” requiring talented UI/UX to provide the additional effort that will result in complete design and implementation.

Hiring challenges

Critical challenges can simply be in knowledge transfer (architecture, coding standards, design decisions/limitations, etc.) between the originating team and the inheriting team. If the inherited solution is built with a language (or languages) that are niche or new to the internal team, finding short- or long-term talent can be a challenge, increasing the true TCO (total cost of ownership) of that solution.


Best practices for digital resource staffing

Once you’ve identified your current stage of digital transformation, it’s important to build a hiring strategy based in best practices. These eight staffing insights apply at any stage of the digital transformation, allowing you to go forward confidently and build a team that will drive success—and help you move to the next stage.

  • Understanding the overall business objective is key. This will help ensure the business case for talent covers the true need, regardless of whether the need is short- or long-term, single or multiple roles, consulting or production oriented, or design or development oriented.
  • For each stage, clearly defining the scope you expect of talent is critical. This means resisting the urge to include too many languages and skills in one job description and asking your recruiter(s) to find talent that doesn’t exist.
  • Developing clear and comprehensive screening questions for your recruiting team can reduce mismatches and improve the quality of candidates that get presented.
  • Many clients review and prioritize a candidate’s portfolio as a key component in the selection process, especially for designers and front-end developers. However, many projects within digital transformation require strong documentation. Consider how candidates have documented their decisions and functionality in their portfolio. If it’s missing, ask for samples.
  • When it comes to preparing the budget for the business case, it can be a rookie mistake to take in national or major market numbers when it comes to talent pay scales and salary. Partnering with a recruiting firm can help you plan with local salary benchmarking, giving you a more realistic budget and reducing negotiation time in the recruiting process.
  • Defining your terms/language upfront for candidates and new team members is essential. Every enterprise uses terminology differently, and it’s easy to assume that new joiners are speaking the same language, even if the same word is used. Preparing a glossary of key terms and words used among the team can help ensure candidates clearly understand what’s being asked and can hit the ground running when they start.  Creating a component or pattern library to aid new team members’ application of your brand, design and development standards improves consistency and their speed to productivity.
  • Sometimes, staffing up quickly, or for niche roles, requires external recruiting partners. Proactively engaging with the right recruiting firm is key to reducing the time it takes to get the right talent in-house.
  • Share the vision.  This provides candidates with a higher purpose and creates consistency in the work produced.  It also helps keep the team moving in the same direction together.


What are some lessons have you learned in hiring UI/UX? Share in the comments below.