Rob is an award-winning New York City-based senior UX/UI designer with over 15 years experience designing products for some of the biggest companies in the world. Clients include ESPN, MetLife, Goldman Sachs, Cisco, The Hartford, Discovery Channel, Siemens, The United States Women's Ski Team, Fitch Ratings, Wolters Kluwer, Red Bull, Bain, GlaxoSmithKline, dozens of startups, and many more.
Nick is a senior UI/UX designer with ten years of professional experience specializing in designing applications for startups. Nick believes that design is not about deliverables and beautiful pixels but solving problems and achieving business and user goals.
Raf is a highly skilled UI/UX designer and Illustrator with 13+ years of experience working with diverse companies, including renowned industry leaders such as MIT, Deloitte, and Schneider Electric. With a proven track record of solving intricate design challenges, Raf has collaborated with numerous startups across the US and Europe to develop cutting-edge digital products that have garnered significant attention from venture capitalists and achieved widespread user adoption on a global scale.
With over 10 years of design industry experience, Doriane is a French designer with a master's degree in Product Design at L'Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique and an Interaction Design Specialization from UC San Diego. She moved to London, where she started as a product designer for several brand agencies to finally get promoted to head of design and run a full team. Doriane now lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where she worked for startups before integrating one of the worldwide textile leaders.
With over 15 years of experience in design, Korana's work spans a number of UX, UI, and graphic design projects. She's worked for Adidas, Pacific Disaster Centre, Transperfect, and Noteworth and is a co-founder of Zingword.com, a startup translation marketplace. Korana enjoys UX challenges and uses custom illustrations to give character to her designs. In her spare time, she does stop-motion animation.
Alex is a passionate digital product designer with over 13 years of UI/UX experience. He has worked in both boutique design studios and large IT enterprises, feeling most comfortable in a creative environment where visual design is second only to usability. With a pragmatic approach, a highly structured design process, and close team collaboration, Alex can evolve clients' initial requirements into a complete design solution, ensuring a smooth development delivery.
Nemanja is a UI/UX specialist with more than ten years of industry experience who focuses on usability, user experience, and user research in his designs. He has worked with small and large teams, including teams from Google and Red Hat. Nemanja has worked as a freelancer and enjoys the challenge of solving user problems.
Alexandre is a user experience designer and strategist with 12+ years of experience working for companies like Deutsche Bank, Philips, Vodafone, KLM, Intel, Pernod Ricard, Asics, and Toyota. He designs better ways for customers to experience products and services that improve their lives and the business's bottom line. What drives Alexandre is simplifying complex things, understanding behavior, and creating real, innovative experiences.
Jan has worked with over fifty startups and other companies for the last ten years, building innovative digital products. He had the privilege to work on exciting projects that were, more often than not, the first of their kind. He specializes in Customer, Apps, Web, AI, and Gaming. Jan can also help you with product management and fundraising. He raised over $1.5 million for his projects and crowdfunded $65K.
Jordan is an expert designer whose focus is on visual communications and whose work integrates strategy, service design, and UX/UI. She has worked in a range of companies, from corporate in-house to boutique design studios. A self-starter who wears many hats, Jordan is in her element leading a project or managing a team.
Shammer is a brand and digital designer with over ten years of experience. His breadth of skills varies from print to digital design. He defines himself as a chameleon; he can design for various clients while staying true to their brand's visual identity and extending it wherever needed or desired.
Hiring a UI/UX designer is an integral part of seeing your product come to life. Although this can be a challenging phase of the product development journey, it’s also a crucial step in integrating product goals, business objectives, technical feasibility, and user needs. This hiring guide looks at understanding the key roles of a UI/UX designer within your business as well as the skill sets required to build your digital product successfully.
... allows corporations to quickly assemble teams that have the right skills for specific projects.
Despite accelerating demand for coders, Toptal prides itself on almost Ivy League-level vetting.
Creating an app for the game
Building a cross-platform app to be used worldwide
Leading a digital transformation
Drilling into real-time data creates an industry game changer
Michael is an incredible designer, and has been a great fit for our project. He just gets it in a way that can’t be taught. My goal was to pay Toptal to find me a high quality designer for my project, and that is exactly what happened. It was easy. Being able to see the portfolio work on Toptal’s platform is what gave me the infomation I needed to choose Michael. I have nothing but good things to say about Toptal and am looking forward to using Toptal for other projects in the future.
Edward Daniel, Co-Founder
I've worked very closely with Martina for over a year and have to say she is one of the best people I have ever worked with. Instead of simply following instructions blindly, she thinks through the task at hand, becoming a thought partner to help with whatever the project may be. Besides being super talented at design, she possesses specific qualities that make her exceptional to work with given the fast paced nature of being a startup. I would definitely recommend her to anyone looking for a talented, professional designer who doesn't need much direction to hit the ground running.
Sahil Khanna, Sr. Manager, Marketing
Darko did a great job figuring out the user architecture for our concept, which led him to produce terrific wireframes. His knowledge of usability and design was a perfect match for the outside voice we needed to help jumpstart our project. We would certainly recommend him and work with him again in the future.
Rich Danker, Founder
Carlos has the unique talent of blending both quantitative and qualitative research to keenly identify UX challenges and opportunities. He thinks methodically, emphatically, and holistically to produce data-driven strategies and well-executed designs. Over the past 8 years of working with fully or partially distributed teams, Carlos manages working remotely far better than anyone I've encountered because of his strong communication and presentation skills. He is the first on my list the next time I need a UX designer.
Michelle Krogmeier, Project Manager
Rafael is an amazing designer. His aesthetic sense is spot on, and he seems to be able to anticipate our needs before we even know what they are. He's taken the time to understand both our company and our clientele, and his solutions are consistently in-line with our values, interests, and our customers' needs. He delivers on time (if not earlier), works quickly, is well organized, and very effective. He's a pleasure to work with, and we're very happy to have found him through Toptal.
Ethan Brooks, CTO
Langlotz Patent & Trademark Works, Inc.
Toptal gave us access to the best designers out there. They’re not easy to find. Those designers integrated very quickly with our existing teams. They very quickly understood our business case and the value of our solution. Toptal really allowed us to focus on building the best possible product and save a lot of time on the typical administrative pains that goes with it -- specifically, finding the best talent. Toptal designers were very responsive, always online -- and that made life very easy for us. We have ambitious goals on how to grow the application and already Toptal has been a key contributor to that success.
Thierry Jakircevic, General Manager, Digital Solutions, Bridgestone Head Office, Tokyo
We had an amazing experience working with our Toptal designer. In only two weeks, we accomplished what would've taken most companies 3 months to complete. We also enjoyed working with the Toptal team to make sure we were paired up with the right designer that would fit both our company culture and working style.
Ted Blosser, Head of Sales and Customer Success
Dean blew us away. He ranks right up there as one of the top five designers of the hundreds I have worked with in the past. He listened, was totally professional, and came up with a 3D rotating cube design completely on his own. We didn't even ask for it, and yet it has become the centerpiece of our app and how users engage with it right off the bat. What he produced inspired all of us at Votify, and put us on track for launch and investor funding.
Michael Lawrence, Founder & CEO
How to Hire UI/UX Designers through Toptal
Talk to One of Our Industry Experts
A Toptal director of design will work with you to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics.
Work With Hand-Selected Talent
Within days, we'll introduce you to the right UI/UX Designer for your project. Average time to match is under 24 hours.
The Right Fit, Guaranteed
Work with your new UI/UX Designer for a trial period (pay only if satisfied), ensuring they're the right fit before starting the engagement.
Find Experts With Related Skills
Access a vast pool of skilled designers in our talent network and hire the top 3% within just 48 hours.
At Toptal, we thoroughly screen our UI/UX Designers to ensure we only match you with talent of the highest caliber. Of the more than 200,000 people who apply to join the Toptal network each year, fewer than 3% make the cut. You’ll work with design experts (never generalized recruiters or HR reps) to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics. The end result: expert vetted talent from our network, custom matched to fit your business needs.
Can I hire UI/UX Designers in less than 48 hours through Toptal?
Depending on availability and how fast you can progress, you could start working with a UI/UX Designer within 48 hours of signing up.
What is the no-risk trial period for Toptal UI/UX Designers?
We make sure that each engagement between you and your UI/UX Designer begins with a trial period of up to two weeks. This means that you have time to confirm the engagement will be successful. If you’re completely satisfied with the results, we’ll bill you for the time and continue the engagement for as long as you’d like. If you’re not completely satisfied, you won’t be billed. From there, we can either part ways, or we can provide you with another expert who may be a better fit and with whom we will begin a second, no-risk trial.
How to Hire a Great UI/UX Designer
Working with a UI/UX designer is an exciting stage of a digital product’s journey. All the components start coming together, and all the intangibles begin to materialize.
To get the best out of the hiring process and the UI/UX designer you will be working with, it’s best to understand what they do and how they do it.
Let’s take a deep dive into what a UI/UX designer is and what the best journey into hiring a UI/UX designer may entail, from portfolios to responsibilities, from what to look for to interview questions.
What Is a UI/UX Designer?
At the risk of stating the obvious, the role of a UI/UX designer is a blend of a UI (user interface) designer and a UX (user experience) designer. Typically, these are separate roles where the designers work on different aspects of a product at different stages.
Fundamentally, UI designers are concerned with how the information and components in a digital product are laid out as well as how they behave in accordance with the users’ needs and interactions with their device. The role’s responsibilities at the core follow those of an information architect, interaction designer, and a visual designer—rolled into one.
User interface designers are in charge of designing each screen or web page with which a user interacts and ensuring that the UI visually communicates the potential task-completion paths that a UX designer has laid out for them.
Typically, UI designers are also responsible for creating a cohesive style guide and ensuring that a consistent design language is applied across the product. Maintaining consistency between visual elements, such as typography and color scheme, and defining interaction-related behaviors such as how to display error messages fall under the purview of a UI designer.
UI designers not only define how to best use layout, visual hierarchy, color, typography, micro animation, and iconography but are also responsible for designing UIs for special needs and standards such as accessibility. Since UI designers are responsible for making UX designers’ visions a reality, many UI designers also have a good understanding of front-end development and may even have some coding skills.
A UX (user experience) designer, on the other hand, strives to understand business requirements and the technical limitations of the project and focuses on serving the core users of the product through rigorous and methodical design. In essence, they are responsible for crafting “the experience” of using your product. UX designers are user-centered, i.e., they put the user in the center of everything they do and practice various design methodologies, frameworks, and processes such as jobs-to-be-done, design thinking, and human-centered design.
UX designers conceive, plan, and conduct user research, which may involve interviews, surveys, and contextual observations, and translate them into sitemaps, information architectures, user flows, customer journeys, wireframes, mockups, and prototypes. The UX designer will also be expected to design the overall functionality of the product and iterate on product designs based on several rounds of moderated or unmoderated user testing.
In addition to many essential elements, good design will always take into account a user’s emotional and psychological needs. UX designers not only define the user’s journey with the product but also interpret the purpose and role of the product through persuasive, anticipatory, and emotional design.
It’s crucial to bring into play an effective recruiting process to identify a great UI/UX designer for your project that covers, among other things, product design strategy, user research, wireframing, prototyping, visual design, interaction design, user testing, and analytics. Along with the usual set of requirements, this meticulous process will ensure the candidate is a good fit for your organization.
Some of the responsibilities a UI/UX designer has may entail but are not limited to:
Strategy and Content
Wireframing and Prototyping
Look and Feel
Branding and graphic development
Interactivity and animation
Adaptation to required device screen sizes
Execution and Analytics
Coordination and guidance with visual designers
UX testing/iteration (moderated and unmoderated)
Design Sprints and UX workshops
Development of implementation with developers
Product usage analytics
What to Look for When Hiring a UI/UX Designer
Once the technical requirements of your project are worked out and you are ready to hire a UI/UX designer, it’s essential to ensure good chemistry with the UI/UX design candidate(s) and get on the same page. Design is a deeply human endeavor. It’s vital to ensure the designer is a team player, an excellent communicator, and a great collaborator.
In a professional design environment, soft skills help designers understand the problems and people they’re working with. To navigate peer and client relationships effectively, designers need soft skills like:
Role Flexibility: The ability to wear many hats and learn unfamiliar tasks
Listening: A willingness to hear and understand others’ thoughts
Collaboration: Sharing skills and ideas with others and valuing theirs in return
Evaluating Criticism: Sorting through feedback and deciding what’s actionable
Task Prioritization: Knowing when to do what and the amount of time it takes
Persuasion: Helping others see and share in a vision
Since this position requires two skill sets rolled into one, it’s best to look for design talent comfortable wearing the hats of a UI designer and a UX designer and who can easily transition between these roles. At the start of a project, they would most likely wear a UX designer’s hat, defining the problem, conducting user research, building prototypes, and doing user testing. Later on, they would switch to wearing a UI designer’s hat, defining the aesthetic, coming up with color schemes, structuring layouts, devising interactions, and building style guides, design systems, and component libraries.
The candidate should have a portfolio of UX design case studies that demonstrate specific strengths and skills with a variety of tools, approaches, and UX deliverables in a UX designer’s toolkit. These would include but are not limited to user research, personas, empathy maps, affinity maps, experience maps, user journeys, user flows, wireframes, wire flows, mockups, prototypes, heuristic analysis, user testing, and usage analytics reports.
Does the designer understand the concept of an MVP (minimum viable product)? MVPs are a way of developing a new product (e.g., a website or a mobile app) with the minimum acceptable features to suit the users. Additional features and design elements are added based on the feedback of real users rather than a designer’s ideas and assumptions. Many of the world’s most popular products have been developed using the MVP process.
Look for relevant education and real-world experience in UX. They should be explicit about their UX skills, the process and toolkit they use, and the kinds of projects in which they specialize. A long list of relevant skills, the tools they use, and how many years of experience they have is less important than their user-centered design process—how the problem was solved.
Their UX portfolio should demonstrate their customer focus, understanding of the business needs, and the context they were designing for, along with a clear articulation of the role they played on each project.
The UX designer half of a UI/UX Designer candidate should employ UX design methodologies in their daily UX design work that include such approaches and processes as design thinking, human-centered design (HCD), and Lean UX. UX design is about following specific methodologies and processes; therefore, the candidate’s portfolio should demonstrate projects where they used one or the other, or a combination of the above approaches.
When it comes to evaluating the UI designer in the candidate, look for relevant education, such as a degree in human-computer interaction (HCI), or equivalent experience in digital interface design. Look for UI designers who follow best practices, conventions and standards, and basic usability principles to ensure that the user interfaces that they create correspond with user needs.
The candidate’s UI portfolio should demonstrate user-centered design solutions with strong visual and interaction design skills. Look for clean, intuitive designs of interfaces and user interface elements for software programs, responsive websites, mobile apps, video games, or TV. They should present a clear structure, easily understandable information hierarchy, intuitive interactions, visual balance, pleasing aesthetics, and well-structured typography that support usability with clear, consistent visual layouts and content structuring.
Ask the candidate about different UI design styles, such as skeuomorphism, minimalism, maximalism, flat design, and material design, and see if the candidate can elaborate on the pros and cons of using each. Do they favor one style over another, and if yes, why?
UI/UX Designer Interview Questions
The following questions and answers should help you with your interviewing process for a UI/UX Designer.
UI Designer Oriented Questions
What are your thoughts about Google’s material design?
Google created material design as a visual language that synthesizes classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science. This question is more specific than a general inquiry and they should address it explicitly.
Professional UI designers who keep their fingers on the pulse of the latest user interface trends and standards will know a lot about material design: its principles, properties, environment, and goals. Hearing the designer’s thoughts should indicate that the candidate is not just following the latest trends because they’re all the rage.
What do you think is the most intuitive user interface ever created?
Many design experts continue to argue over whether intuition-driven user interfaces are a myth. Those who are advocates say learning that the end user describes your user interface as “intuitive” is the highest praise you will ever receive.
This question is a thought-provoking one for any UI designer, and it will allow you to find out whether the designer also thinks it’s a myth or not. More importantly, if the designer does not believe it’s a myth, what would she or he consider the most intuitive user interface created and why?
How would you redesign a well-known user interface?
This question should clarify how a designer thinks as the end user. First of all, the designer has to identify the elements to be redesigned (colors, shapes, sizes, placement, for example), followed up by reasons, not choices, explaining why these elements require a redesign.
Finally, the most critical part of this question should reveal the changes the designer would like to apply to the user interface. Again, backed up by reasoning rather than choices, the designer needs to explain why the proposed changes would look better and how these changes would contribute to a better user experience.
Can you describe an app with the worst ever user interface?
This question is kind of a reverse psychology one. You might as well ask, “What do you think a great user interface looks like?” But the trick is not to make the question too obvious, so the prospective UI designer does not give a general answer.
By describing elements of the worst ever user interface, the designer illustrates his or her design values for such things as the visual hierarchy, typography, the color scheme, the layout, buttons, input boxes, labels, as well as shapes, sizes, and the positioning of these elements. A professional UI designer should always give a detailed explanation of why a particular interface has no chance of pleasing the end user.
Why do you think Sketch has gained such popularity with UI design?
The majority of professional UI designers prefer to design interfaces using Sketch, which was developed specifically for user interface creation, but not for logos, illustrations, or anything else graphics-related.
Nevertheless, it is beneficial to hear why UI designers think Sketch has gained so much popularity in such a short time. Some of the features that Sketch is known for are vector support, a component-based design library system, code-friendly designs, robust export features, customizable grid systems, and more.
UX Designer Oriented Questions
What does it mean to be a great UX designer?
The answer will help you discover what kind of UX designer you may be hiring. While there is no right or wrong answer, a good designer should have in-depth UX knowledge as well as a comprehensive end-to-end UX design process they can talk about. They should be willing to walk you step by step through the approach that guides them to robust working solutions.
Listen for humility, backed by confidence. Do they have a cultivated eye for solutions? Are they passionate about creating delightful user experiences and designing products people love?
Listen for answers that include a discussion around empathy — “walking a mile in a customer’s shoes” (customer journeys) — and a user-centered, user goal-driven approach to designing products.
Describe your design process and what methods you follow.
UX design is constantly evolving and searching for new ways to solve problems. Seasoned UX designers have likely been developing their own approach to the design process and will vary from one designer to another. In general, good UX designers will walk you through a particular process or “toolkit” they follow when approaching a problem or a project. It will likely be a set of steps they will take to solve user problems and create engaging experiences. Listen for both a clear process and the specific steps they take to solve user problems and create engaging experiences.
One overarching theme should be around a user-centric approach to design, so perhaps mention “design thinking,” which follows a thorough understanding of both user and business goals. In general, this is often an iterative design process that is constantly evolving. Key concepts or methods used to carry out this process may include but are not limited to: competitive audits, stakeholder interviews, user research involving interviews and surveys, content audits, information architecture, user personas, business model canvases, mood boards, storyboards, empathy maps, use case scenarios and user flows, customer journeys, wireframes, mockups, and prototypes. They may also mention conducting user testing—moderated or unmoderated, remote or in-person—multivariate testing, eye tracking, click-tracking heatmaps, and other quantitative analytics.
Please provide some examples of your experience dealing with user research and usability testing.
First and foremost, user research is all about understanding your users. A good UX designer will help you design products that work well across a variety of use cases—from mobile to desktop, as well as a wide range of audiences.
A UX designer should be able to elaborate on how they think of and engage in user research. What “lenses” do they use when conducting user research? These “lenses” could be ethnographic studies, field studies and contextual observations, focus groups, surveys, and diary studies.
They should mention details of how they set goals for the research and came up with a research plan, how they approached the organizational aspect, the recruiting of representative users—what kind of research questions they asked and how they analyzed the results. While there is more than one approach to facilitating user research, the designer should have a clear description of the method, the sample size required to gain a meaningful result, and speak to the interpretation of the data.
Look for a UX designer who understands how to measure appropriately by selecting the minimum number of subjects needed to gain an accurate understanding of the research, and who comprehends what they are testing and seeking to understand.
What is your approach to making websites and platforms accessible to all user groups, including users with visual, hearing, and motor disabilities?
Accessibility is a vast topic for UX designers, especially as screens begin to shrink, and we consume and engage in content wherever we go. Designing digital products able to be used anywhere is paramount to a product’s success. When our end user has specific requirements in terms of sensory constraints, the design should facilitate interaction and be even more empathetic.
Take notice if the designer is aware of and follows the World Wide Web Consortium’s “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.” Have they performed an accessibility analysis on a previous project?
With a focus on accessibility, testing becomes especially important and should be comprehensive. An app or a website should be simple enough to facilitate a clear end goal or user task, and innovative approaches should be used to ensure a user with a disability can interact with the product. Some examples could include using voiceover commands to navigate websites and apps for people with motor disabilities, adding captions to a video which benefits people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, making content easier to read by screen readers for the blind—or designing an option to use large typography for users with vision impairment.
What does the term “design thinking” mean to you?
Listen for the UX designer to describe it as a user-centered design approach, a process. As Tim Brown, Executive Chair at IDEO, a famed global design consultancy, explains it: “‘Design thinking’ is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
Design thinking is a method for the generation of solutions and a practical, creative resolution of problems. It’s about uncovering insights into the unmet needs of your target audience. It’s a form of solution-based or solution-focused thinking, with the intent of producing a constructive future result. Most of all, it’s a “people first” approach—a design process mindset that designs products around people’s needs, motivations, and behaviors.
Who are your design heroes? What are your favorite apps for UX? Explain why.
Every great UX designer has at least a dozen books by design legends on their bookshelf, as well as favorite app designs that they appreciate because of the quality of the UX.
Listening to the reasons why they love their design heroes and favorite apps can reveal a great deal about a designer’s everyday approach to UX—their “design thinking,” sensibility, and taste—and will speak volumes about what kind of UX designer they are.
It’s more important to listen for the “why” than give credence to names or which design guru it is. Nevertheless, here are a few to take note of: Dieter Rams (German industrial designer at Braun), Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive (Apple), Don Norman (best known for his books on design, especially The Design of Everyday Things), Steve Krug, and Alan Cooper.
This also applies to their favorite apps. Again, it’s the “why” that’s important—listen carefully for what in the UX design makes these their favorites—for example, Uber, Instagram, Snapseed, Spotify, Facebook, and Netflix.
Rounding Up the Requirements and Getting Started
At this point, you have defined what you need and whom you would like to work with, so the next and final step is to recap and address the following:
Scope and deliverables (expected/required)
Timelines and goals
Global assumptions (e.g., mobile should be included, exclude testing for IE, etc.)
Special requirements (e.g., accessibility for the visually impaired, language, etc.)
Tech and specifications (iOS/Android, REST API, etc.)