3 signs you're ready to hire a product designer

Magda Cychowski

Product designers are becoming a hot commodity in the hiring market, and for good reason: excellent products require excellent user experience. Hiring a product designer can take your engineering arm to the next level.

Here are 3 signs your teams is ready to bring a designer on board:

1. No one on your team has design chops.

If a lack of design expertise on your product or eng team is preventing you from getting your product to market, you probably shouldn't even be reading this article. Seriously — you need to bring a full-time designer onto your team, especially if design needs are ongoing.

This doesn't necessarily mean a full-time employee — the arrangement can take different forms depending on your needs. For example, you may start them on a freelancer contract or a retainer fee until your design needs require a full-time hire.

If you're acquiring customers without investing in design, you may be able to delay your first designer hire until you hit other milestones, like your next round of funding.

2. Your design needs are ongoing.

If you have continuous or consecutive projects for a full-time designer to own over the next six months or longer, you’re ready for a design hire.

If you have more self-contained projects, or you need to focus on your initial branding and website, to get your product to market, you should outsource to a freelancer or agency.

Most SaaS products hire a designer early on to prioritize user experience in the product and get to market faster.

3. You need to stand out from the competition.

If you’re entering a category where all the other products are painful to use, you could have a competitive advantage and quickly gain early market share through exceptional design. In other words, design and usability can be key differentiators for your company. And if the competitors are dominant players with strong brands, you'll need to put money into building an exceptional user interface and experience.

Take a look at HR benefit software, Gusto: they gained traction in their market by designing a simple and trustworthy UI that appealed to their customer base of small business owners. Design set them apart from competitors like Justworks and Paylocity, whose strategy was to build massive sales teams and focus on large companies. Your market value depends on it.