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February 19, 2011 / kaigani

How to plan your user experience budget wisely

Full_time-vs-freelance

The user experience industry and talent pool is an interesting beast.  I remember as Head of Information Architecture for Agency.com trying to hire full-time UX designers, and finding impossible to compete with the freelance market.

Now, with Oxidant, I’m building a network of freelancers, again because hiring a full-time team of senior people would be nearly impossible in this climate.

Quite simply, there is little incentive to take a full-time salary, when you can earn double or more as a freelance.

Still, I see quite a few job postings looking for full-time UX designers at rates that are not competitive unless you are seeking the most junior talent.

I recently gave this advice to a company looking to hire a UX person at £35,000-£40,000pa. – Approach your UX need like a digital agency would – scheduling your project phases to bring senior UX people in at the right time will be more effective use of your budget than training and working with someone junior.

The graph above shows a generic way in which you can break a project into phases to involve a senior UX designer at the start of the phase for the bulk of the research and design work, and then at the end for quality assurance and testing.

Even companies that think they have a continuous UX would do better to schedule their releases in phases, I believe, not just for design, but for development resources as well.

Do you agree with this model?  I’d be interested to hear counter-arguments.

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