How To Hire A Designer

Posted By Debbie on October 21, 2013

A friend who is familiar with my blog sent me this blog post. It’s called “How To Hire A Designer,” and this guy really gets it.

I like how he breaks things down to 4 general skill sets:

  • Outcome – Defining the intended outcome, the problem being solved.
  • System – Defining the components and features.
  • Interaction – Defining how people will interact with the features.
  • Visual – Typography, layout, and iconography.

He then builds matrices of what each design job needs. If you need a visual designer, then that job has high requirements for Visual but low requirements for the other three. If you need an interaction designer, that person is more about System and Interaction than Visuals.

He gets it. I want more hiring managers to get it. 🙂

I’d go one step further, and define things slightly differently.

I would not put Layout in the Visual box. I’d let Visual be colour, branding, iconography, typography, mood, and personality. Layout goes with Interaction. Often, when graphic designers change the layout from what I had in wireframes, I’m mostly horrified. I had so many reasons for doing what I did. And the artist is typically not thinking about psychology, natural human behaviour, or how people parse and group information.

I’d want an interaction design to be AWESOME with Outcome, System, and Interaction, and just “get” Visual without having to do it.

I’d want an artist to “get” Outcome, System, and Interaction, but be super killer on Visual, which is how he defines a visual artist job.

“A beautiful product that solves a problem no one has will fail. An ugly product that solves a real problem well can succeed.”

That’s a quote from his blog post. I’ve often said things like this, but I present them slightly differently.

I remind people that a GREAT idea executed poorly (ie: not user friendly) can still fail. A mediocre idea executed awesomely (great UX, good design) can succeed even if it solves a problem most people didn’t really have. For example, how many apps or systems DO we need for sharing images? Well, something about how they work is drawing people in even if people didn’t really need it.

Visual design, to me, is the icing on the cake. If you baked a crappy cake, the icing won’t help much. It still comes down to usability. I think that’s the true breaking point for most products.