As UX and usability become more well known, there is an unfortunate downside for clients and that is cowboys. These are people who have perhaps read a UX book and decide to set themselves up as experts. To help you spot the expert from the amateur i’ve created some handy hints. You don’t need to do all of these, just enough to satisfy you that the agency or freelancer knows their stuff and is genuine.
1. Check out their website Is it easy to use? Does it have clear call to actions? Are they using good copywrite? Does the layout of the text aid scanability? Is the navigation clear? Is the font readable? They should be practicing what they preach. If the site is badly designed, alarm bells should ring.
2. Read the About Us section Are they easily identifiable? (photo and name), Can you check their reputation and credibility via links to LinkedIn or Twitter? Read their experience closely – do they have professional qualifications and experience or are they a marketing company who have read a few books on the subject?
3. Check their Twitter posts Do they contribute to the world of usability by tweeting useful links? Do they help other people? Do they seem credible?
4. Check their Twitter followers Are they following and been followed by thousands of people? (they may have been on a mass following mission). Check who’s following them – if there are other agencies and usability professionals following them, they probably post good, knowledgeable tweets.
5. Read testimonials Get a feel for the type of person they are and how they work by what other clients thought.
6. Look at their previous work Ask to see their portfolio. This will give you a good idea of the standard of their work and what they are capable of.
7. Read their blog Owning and updating a blog deserves credit. It takes a lot of time and effort and shows it is important to them to give back to the profession. You can get a feel for the person and what they’re passionate about by what they write and the style they use.
8. Check their Facebook page How many people have joined their page? What have people posted on the wall?
9. Engage with them Email or talk to them. Prepare your questions if necessary.
10. Meet them Prepare your questions and more importantly see if you get along, after all, none of us want to work with people who we don’t click with.