User Experience Design · User Interface Design

What's a good test project to give a potential UX design hire?


February 16th, 2015

I've seen a lot of discussion about the best way to interview engineers/developers and whether or not to give coding projects. I have a similar question but for designers. Is there a good way to see what a designer can do with a small project? It seems like an obvious thing to do to me, but the previous discussion got me thinking about what the best way to interview UI/UX designers is?

Jake Carlson Software Development Manager at Oracle

February 16th, 2015

No. This is essentially spec work. As per the comments regarding giving developers small projects to do, you may come off as devaluing their work. Compensate them for any work. Base your decision on past work. If still unsure, hire for a probationary period on a contract basis. If it doesn't work out, find someone else, but at least you will have compensated the person for work.

Liam Carolan Marketing Technologist

February 17th, 2015

What's a good test project to give a potential UX design hire?You don't need to give them a project at all... at least not yet. I've found that asking for three examples of UX in commercial production that they feel is good and why is a great way to get to know their abilities fast. I really like this tactic. I'm able to get specific with my questions and they don't feel like they're giving anything away or working for free. You can paint a scenario and ask them to find UX that meet the criteria and show it to you. Then you can probe away and find out how much they mix creative with functional. Try not to overthink this. -LFC

Derek Dukes Business Development, Startups at Amazon Web Services

February 16th, 2015

If you think they'll invest in doing a design project I would go that direction as other responders have pointed out. 

Alternatively, or even maybe early on in the process. I might start with a open question like: what are the first 2-3 UX changes you would make to our site / app, how would you prioritize them, and what process would you go through to vet your new designs.

This gives you some information that you might not get out of just asking a specific UX task:
- How does this candidate identify the most critical features in the product to focus on improving over time
- Give you a good sense of how they will be most interested in spending their time as a designer
- Let's them speak to their process for design. How do they come up with UX candidates, get feedback etc.
- Puts them in the role of design expert, not a design monkey. 

This is also a great quick read on the role of design, for designers in firms or freelance:

Daniel Turner Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC

February 17th, 2015

Perhaps the better process isn't to ask "what test can I give so that someone fits into my measure?" but "how can I better understand what UX is, what this person does and has done, what does my project need, and how does that apply?"

Of course that's harder -- but did you want to become a "Founder" because it was the easiest thing to do?

Tim Dai Web Interface Designer at Best Buy Canada

February 16th, 2015

I've came across a few short and great articles from google venture sites a while ago. Hope it helps.

Richard Price Digital Product Designer ⇢ Are you telling the right story?

February 16th, 2015

Lucas - 

The real issue here is that we no qualifiably good expression of what a good UX designer really IS. In all seriousness, the industry can't describe it either. The bottom line is that you need to decide what UX is for yourself and design interviews, tests, and lines of inquisitions to determine fit for you context.   I've tried to get the associations to care about the definitions involved, but they don't care. Tim has passed on a few great articles, one of which I liked, but in the end, Google has no greater pull in this discussion that you or I do when it comes to what User Experience Design comes really constitutes. In fact, I would't put much stock in Google hiring practiced. Great name, little clout when it comes to strategic hiring.

My question for *you* is, what do you think UX is in the first place. FYI, it's classically not considered anything close to UI (if you think uUI has anything to do with Photoshop). However, if you think of UI as being more akin to HCI, or Interaction Design, then that's the status quo. Ironically, I happen to believe -- and have structured my entire design and business approach -- that the users' experience are more nth degree broader that visual design, or interactions, or customer experience, or service design, or brand experience. However cute these classifications are they simply don't cut it when it comes to real humans in every day life.  In my view, it is *all* of these things. Holistic, by design. See, that's why you rarely come across a great resource that tell you how the best way to hire a UX resource. 

~ Best

PS - message me if you need a PM consultant. /rp

Bruce Leban Software developer, inventor, innovator

February 16th, 2015

First, most designers can point to things they've done in the past for other companies that you can look at. I highly recommend asking.

Second, in order for a technical interview question to be effective, the asker must be able to effectively evaluate the answers. Therefore, I suggest using something from your past experience, something that you know what UX you had, what some of the pros/cons of that were and can effectively evaluate what the designer says. I think that how the designer *works on* the problem is more important than the actual solution they come up with.

Third, if you're asking a job candidate or prospective co-founder to do an actual (even small) project, I think that's a bad idea. Asking someone to do throwaway work tells them you don't value their time. That's a red flag for me. When I interview someone, it's a dialog. In the live interview scenario, you're not handing them a complete requirements doc and asking them to design the UX. You're giving them some requirements and interacting with them as they discuss additional requirements, trade-offs and potential designs. And you're spending the exact same amount of time on it.

Troy Gardner Chief Technology Officer, Chief Brewing Officer at Cloud9 Brewing Systems

February 16th, 2015

A simple one is have them whiteboard a login with password recovery and reset. Extra points if they get things like single sign on facebooth, oauth, google etc.

Dennis Bishop Pro Athlete turned Entrepreneur, Full Stack Web Developer

February 16th, 2015

Give them a project similar to what they would be working on as a team member.

Stuart Frederich-Smith Director of Product at PlanGrid

February 17th, 2015

There are a lot of good suggestions above, but I'll add one more. I've found that the best approach to this is to have a single scenario that is shared by all applications. It should be based upon a real problem that your product has dealt with and that you are able to really understand. When I've used scenarios that are too simplistic or too abstract I've found that they don't prompt me to interrogate the solution in a particularly deep way. When I do deeply understand the problem (as well as some solution) I'm better equipped really explain the need to the potential designer and deeply evaluate what they propose.

What you're testing for in this is only partially the artifacts that the person will produce. That is super important, of course (professional, clear, grammatical), but equally important to discover is whether they will really add a new perspective to the team. This can only be discovered by working with them in as much capacity as is possible, and scenario role playing is the best pre-offer way to make this happen.

Best of luck!