Choosing an external product design consulting partner: what to look for?

Reading time: 12 min

In recent years, global outsourcing has increased enormously. With advancements in technology, communication, and transportation, organisations across industries have recognised the importance of global outsourcing in both the IT sector and the world at large.

Key Stats

  • 92% of all G2000 companies use IT outsourcing (ISG (1))
  • Global spending on outsourcing could hit $731 billion in 2023 with IT outsourcing projected to reach $519 billion (Deloitte (2))
  • The global business process outsourcing market is expected to reach $525 billion by 2030 (Grandview Research (3))
  • 60% of organisations turn to outsourcing for their app development (Computer Economics (4))
  • 37% of small businesses outsource at least one business process (Clutch (5))

Outsourcing IT product design tasks, such as those to do with user interface design and user experience design (UI and UX design), have increased thanks to substantial growth rates (6) over the last few years.

The success of any digital product relies heavily on its UX design and user interface design. These factors can significantly impact users’ overall satisfaction, and ultimately, a business’s profitability. A well-crafted user experience can lead to a remarkable 400% increase in revenue (7). However, achieving a seamless and user-friendly experience can be a big task, especially for companies without large in-house design capabilities.

This is where the outsourcing of UI and UX design to external companies can be useful. Understanding why system analysis and design are important are key factors in the creation of a good digital product. By collaborating with external product design consultancies, businesses are able to gain access to the necessary expertise, resources, and time required to develop a standout product in the market, ultimately driving revenue growth.

Understanding the role of a product design consulting partner

A product design consulting partner specialising in IT UI and UX design plays a crucial role in helping businesses enhance the user experience and user interface of their digital products and applications. Their expertise in IT-specific design principles and best practices enables them to provide valuable guidance and support throughout the design process. Achieving the right outcome when it comes to the design process in software engineering is key, so here are some key aspects of the role of a product design consulting partner:

  • Determining the customers’ needs – ideally, your company would have completed an RFP for software product design beforehand, which will allow you to define your target goals and requirements that you can then explain to a potential partner. The partner can help use this to carry out thorough research to understand the company’s target audience, preferences, behaviours, and pain points. In addition, they analyse user requirements, workflows and goals to develop a deep understanding of how the digital product should be designed to meet user needs effectively.
  • Creating a UX/UI strategy – based on user research insights and business goals, the consulting partner helps define a UX/UI strategy for the IT product. This includes establishing design principles, user flow, information architecture, and defining the overall user experience vision.
  • Creating wireframing and prototyping – the consulting partner creates wireframes and interactive prototypes that demonstrate the structure, layout, and functionality of the digital product. This helps visualise the user interface, test usability, and gather early feedback for iterative design improvements.
  • Presenting a virtual design – leveraging their expertise in IT UX/UI design, an external consulting partner focuses on creating visually appealing interfaces that align with the product’s branding and target audience. They consider factors such as colour schemes, typography, iconography, and visual hierarchy to create a visually engaging user interface.
  • Presenting interaction design – the consulting partner designs intuitive and interactive user interfaces, defining how users will interact with the IT product. They focus on creating seamless and user-friendly interactions, ensuring that users can navigate the product efficiently and complete tasks with ease.
  • Ensuring the design is responsive – with the increasing variety of devices and screen sizes, the consulting partner’s UI designer and design team ensure the visual and interaction design of the product is responsive and adaptable across different platforms.
  • Accessibility – a well-designed user interface must be accessible to all users, so the consulting partner must pay attention to all accessibility considerations to ensure that the IT product is inclusive and usable for users with disabilities.
  • Ongoing collaboration – the consulting partner collaborates closely with IT development teams, providing design specifications, style guides, and assets to ensure smooth implementation of the UI/UX design. They maintain effective communication and collaboration throughout the development process to ensure the intent is translated accurately to the design team.

Why choose product design outsourcing?

There are many great reasons to outsource your digital product design services to a consulting partner. Take a look at some of the most important ones below:

Greater access to a wider talent pool

Opting to outsource design work provides the opportunity to engage professionals and agencies from various locations worldwide. Unlike in-house team members, external partners are not bound by office constraints, work permits or proximity to your location. Therefore, you can access talented individuals who may not have considered joining your team if limited to local hiring.

In addition, working with an external consultant can offer fresh perspectives on projects that bring with them new insights that may not have been discovered otherwise. This can drive innovation and ultimately improve your digital product in ways you could not have foreseen.

Cost efficiency

The hiring process can be costly and time-consuming. Screening numerous candidates, conducting interviews, assigning test tasks and onboarding can be a repetitive and demanding endeavour. Building your dream in-house product design team may require a lot of work and it’s unlikely to come about right away. Working with outsourcing consultants provides a shortcut that allows you to concentrate on the product itself rather than dealing with administrative burdens and overhead.

Cost savings are another significant advantage of outsourcing. While the hourly rate of a remote designer may appear higher than that of an in-house designer, the additional expenses associated with hiring, social security contributions and office-related costs can tip the balance in favour of outsourcing.

Scalability and flexibility

Outsourcing your product design tasks can provide the flexibility needed to accommodate new requirements and remain agile. For instance, if you decide to incorporate a new feature that exceeds your current design team’s expertise or capacity, outsourcing allows you to quickly bring in specialised designers who can handle the task effectively.

In addition, the ability to scale your design capabilities and pivot direction swiftly is crucial for staying competitive and seizing opportunities. Outsourcing empowers you to access a diverse talent pool and adjust the size and composition of your design team based on project requirements and timelines. This agility ensures that you can efficiently adapt to evolving market demands and make informed decisions while maximising resource utilisation.

When to outsource digital product design?

Choosing when to outsource digital product design tasks can be a difficult decision for company executives to make. If your company is dealing with one or more of the following situations, this could be a good indicator that it’s the right time to consider making this leap:

  • when limited in-house expertise means it’s difficult to meet the demands of your tasks;
  • when you have tight deadlines that are increasingly hard to meet;
  • when cost efficiency is paramount;
  • when access to fresh perspectives will significantly benefit your operations;
  • when scalability and flexibility are key;
  • when access to specialised tools and technologies would greatly propel your operations.

In all of these scenarios, outsourcing digital product design services to external consultants enables organisations to fill skill gaps, meet deadlines, optimise costs, gain new insights, scale resources, leverage specialised tools, tap into industry-specific expertise and focus on core business activities.

Outsource UI/UX design services: things to consider

Once you have taken the decision to outsource your UI/UX design services to improve your visual design, software product interfaces and your overall UI and UX design process, it’s important to step back and think about the following key considerations that are important to understand fully before committing to an external outsourced team.

Assessing their expertise: does their UI and UX design portfolio impress?

Before moving forward with an external product design consultant, it’s important to review their portfolio carefully. By doing this, you will be able to get a full understanding of their expertise and where their skills lie. Look for evidence of strong design aesthetics, user-centred approaches, and a diverse range of design solutions.

Consider the quality of their work, their ability to create visually appealing and intuitive interfaces, and their understanding of user experience principles. Pay attention to the industries they have worked in and whether they have experience designing products similar to yours.

Additionally, consider feedback and testimonials from their previous clients. This will provide insights into their professionalism, communication skills, and ability to deliver results.

A question of compatibility: does their design match yours?

Ensuring that the compatibility of the external team’s design approach matches your own design vision and brand identity is essential. Look for a design partner who understands your company’s values, target audience and overall design aesthetic. Make sure to review their previous design projects to assess whether their style aligns with your brand image.

Communication is key in determining compatibility. Engage in discussions with potential outsourcing partners to gauge their ability to understand your requirements, interpret your design goals and collaborate effectively.

Delving into their design process: from concept to completion

Gaining a full and comprehensive understanding of a potential consulting partner’s design process is very important. Looking at their previous work, engaging in discussions with the team about their ethos and finding out how their UX designer and UX design team operate will give you a solid understanding of how their design process works and whether it will be suitable for your operations.

The team factor: who will be working on your product?

Working with the right team made up of the right team UX and UI developers is essential. There are significant benefits when collaborating with professionals who are not only cable of delivering your projects, but also share your vision and ethos. When analysing the external consulting team, carefully review their skill sets and roles, their experience, how their team dynamic works, who the point of contact is and how well they communicate. This should give you an excellent overview of your potential partners.

Feedback and communication: the importance of transparency

Establishing a culture of transparency in feedback and communication is vital for a successful partnership. Without these, you may not be able to transmit your ideas and visions effectively, which risks both the quality of the final product and the relationship with the external partner.

Be sure to make your expectations clear from the outset to avoid misunderstanding. When evaluating the consultant’s communication abilities, make sure to ask about how to create a timely feedback loop that suits all parties involved. In addition, learn about how the partner will communicate about any issues, as this will be a window into their level of transparency and vital for your project’s success.

You must aim to build trust from the outset by understanding how the external consultant handles tasks, problems, and feedback, from which you can lay the foundations of a successful relationship.

Investigating their track record: success stories and client testimonials

Testimonials and reviews from a potential partner’s ex-clientele are an excellent way to understand more about a company that you are looking to collaborate with. Previous customers’ experiences will offer you some insight into how well the company has served others in the past and how successful your partnership is likely to be. Do a deep dive into their track record and previous relationships before committing and it will certainly benefit you in the long run.

Time and budget: are their estimates realistic?

There’s nothing worse than wildly incorrect time estimates or snowballing costs. Before committing, be sure to get accurate time and budget estimations and don’t be shy to press your potential partner on how realistic those estimates are and what to do in the event of ‘unforeseen events or costs’. A good way to gauge the accuracy of your partner’s estimates could be to ask for previous examples of estimates they provided other customers and then ask them for information on how those estimates stacked up against the final numbers. After all, data doesn’t lie!

After-support: what happens post-project?

Is your consulting partner’s role finished at the point the product is delivered or are they there post-project to assist you with any other tasks or issues you may need? Ideally, an external partner would be still available to help and guide you after the project has finished and won’t simply leave you high and dry. Regardless of how well a project is done, there’s always the possibility of unforeseen issues occurring down the line, and it’s good to know that they are there for you if you need them. Peace of mind is key!

The intellectual property aspect: keeping your ideas safe

The final consideration to bear in mind is intellectual property. Regardless of how good your relationship with the consulting partner is, you will want to protect your ideas closely because. Make sure to have the external partner sign an NDA before the commencement of any work and create clear contractual agreements that detail all relevant aspects of IP protection, confidentiality and ownership rights. Only provide as much access to your company and its data that the partner ‘needs to know’ and make sure to have a comprehensive exit strategy in place should the worst happen!

Making the right choice for your business

Choosing an external consulting team to help design your digital product is never an easy choice. Some of the best advice we can offer is to not rush this decision and to take time to do your due diligence. It’s much more beneficial for you in the long run if you take a little more time, in the beginning, to get to you your potential partner, learn who they are, what they can do for you, how previous customers feel and so on, than it is to jump at the first opportunity and later regret it. Of course, the right partner will not mind your questions as they will understand this is all a part of the process. They will go above and beyond to prove to you that they are the perfect partner for you.