User Experience Architects: What They Do And If You Need One

Tobi Moyela

Agile Product Development

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Hiring user experience architects to build your business website or SaaS product is one of the best investments you can make. Unfortunately, many business owners try to cut costs by building SaaS websites or apps themselves. Their lack of expertise leads to finished products with poor usability, and 70% of online businesses fail due to bad website or app usability.

Are you on the fence about hiring a UX architect to build or optimize the user experience design of your SaaS product? If so, keep reading to learn what a user experience architect can do for you and if their services are necessary.

What is a user experience architect?

A user experience architect is a user interface (UI) specialist who understands optimizing an online product's visual design and usability. The primary goal of the typical UX architect is to deliver a product that the end user finds seamless, attractive, and easy to use to achieve their goals.

Professional user experience architects avoid guesswork during the design phase by performing user research or working with a UX researcher. The research provides insights into the functionality and aesthetic preferences of the target end user. UX architects leverage the insights to make well-informed decisions during product design and development.

How do UX architects fit within the design and development process?

79% of consumers abandon a website for an alternative if they don’t like what they find on the first one. If almost 80% of potential customers continue abandoning your app or website because they don’t like its look or performance, your revenue and reputation will take a hit.

According to Good Firms, the top reasons users abandon an online platform are:

  • 88.5% of users abandon slow-loading websites

  • 73.1% leave non-responsive websites

  • 61.5% quit sites with bad navigation

  • 38.5% leave sites with an outdated design

  • 34.6% avoid websites with poor content structure

infographic on the negative effects of bad UX on a business

You can avoid experiencing such issues and high customer churn by working with user experience architects. User experience architects have the knowledge and skills to optimize an app or website's visual and interaction design to engage and convert users.

They accomplish this by eliminating the usability and accessibility issues that typically scare off users. A UX architect also ensures that users can easily access information or complete tasks on your website or app.

Letting a less qualified person handle your product design and development process may initially cost less, but it will eventually cost more. That’s because you’ll likely end up with a product that fails to satisfy users and deliver the desired return on investment. In summary, UX architects are key to designing and developing a SaaS product that users find visually appealing, valuable, and user-friendly.

Do you need to hire a UX architect?

As we’ve established, attractive and usable UI and UX design are necessary if you want a successful SaaS product. A UX architect knows the steps to take to deliver a UI and UX design your target users will find hard to resist. Some of the tactics user experience architects apply to create working UI and UX designs that deliver desired results include:

Content organization

38% of users stop engaging if a website's content or layout is unattractive. Also, a consumer is 131% more likely to make a purchase after consuming quality content. These stats show that the quality of your content and content arrangement can make or break the success of your SaaS platform.

A UX architect does not create content. Instead, they organize and arrange content to attract and deliver immediate value to a user. The sooner a user experiences value after opening your website or app, the faster they can convert.

User experience architects ensure that users can find relevant information on your website or app without assistance. If a user has trouble understanding or finding content, misunderstandings that lead to churn may occur. Lastly, a UX architect can identify and remove extraneous and irrelevant content that may confuse users and delay experiencing value.

Optimize information architecture

Information architecture involves efficiently organizing and labeling content so users can quickly find information and complete tasks. A user architect improves information architecture on an app or website to simplify its navigability and functionality. For instance, UX architects manage content hierarchy to ensure a page’s content appears in the proper order of importance.

Optimizing information architecture doesn’t just make your website or app easy to navigate and accessible. It also eliminates hurdles that keep users from exploring your product and experiencing value.

UX audit

Performing a UX audit helps user experience architects find and fix user interface and design issues before they can compromise usability or functionality. Using a UX audit to fix issues proactively will prevent customer base or revenue loss. It will also help you identify options for improving your SaaS product to deliver a better user experience.

User persona creation

user persona creation sampleSource: Xtensio

During user research, UX architects will create user personas that mirror your target audience. UX architects do this to understand target customers' needs and how they will interact with the product.

In summary, creating personas helps UX architects verify that they are building the right product for the right people. Skipping user persona creation can lead to developing a product that your target audience finds unnecessary and unattractive.

Low-fidelity prototyping

Low-fidelity prototyping is one of the many ways a UX architect can help you save money. It involves creating early versions of a SaaS product with an inexpensive and quick method, such as wireframes and sketches.

The prototype will provide a realistic picture of how your final product will look and work. You can use the insight to determine whether you should continue with the current product visual and interaction design or scrap it. In summary, the prototype helps you avoid wasting money building a shoddy first iteration of your SaaS product.

While performing the above tasks yourself is possible, you will get better results from letting an expert UX architect handle your SaaS product development.

4 tips for hiring UX architects

Hiring a UX architect has several benefits, but you will only experience the benefits if you hire the right team. Here are our best-proven tips for choosing user experience architects that can help bring your SaaS product dream to life:

1. Know your unique problem

Before hiring a UX architect, verify why you are hiring one by identifying the problem you want the expert to solve. Knowing your problem and what you want a UX architect to do about that problem simplifies finding someone who can do the job. It also provides a metric for measuring if the UX architect has delivered results to your satisfaction.

2. Look for relevant experience

UX architects operate in different fields. For instance, some UX architects work more on designing apps, while others work on websites. We recommend hiring a UX architect with experience creating and implementing the specific product you want. The architect should also demonstrate knowledge and ability to follow user-centered design principles to deliver a user-centric finished product.

3. Prioritize relevant skills

It’s not enough for user experience architects to have programming, design, and user research skills. A well-rounded UX architect will have other skills that make working with them hassle-free and rewarding. These skills include:

  • Communication skills: Collaborating can become tedious if this skill is missing.

  • Friendly attitude: It is easier to work with someone when you are comfortable around them.

  • Open-mindedness: A UX architect should be open to receiving feedback and suggestions.

  • Time management: A lack of this skill may lead to a missed deadline, which can frustrate your project.

  • Strategic thinking: It helps if the candidate can contribute to shaping the overall direction of the product or service.

4. Stay within budget

The most expensive UX pro isn’t always the best one. Also, going for the cheapest available UX architect could cost you more in the long run. Instead, choose the most qualified UX pro willing to work within your budget to deliver your desired product. A qualified UX architect will match the descriptions we mentioned above.

UX architect vs. UX designer 

UX architects and UX designers work together to ensure SaaS product development delivers attractive, engaging, and user-friendly software. However, the roles of these experts are not interchangeable. A UX designer and architect’s role differ in focus and scope. For example, UX architects shape the big picture, while UX designers refine and implement the details to deliver a beautiful finished product.

Below is a breakdown of the key differences between a UX architect and a designer during product development.

Scope and responsibilities

A UX architect has broader responsibilities during product development. These responsibilities typically include providing UX strategies and the software’s information architecture. A well-developed information architecture is crucial for ensuring a SaaS product’s navigation structure and information hierarchy deliver a seamless user journey.

A UX designer, on the other hand, primarily focuses on designing the user interface and overall user experience. The design team handles building of specific features, interactions, and visual designs for prototyping and the final build.

User research and analysis

A UX architect performs strategic user research to understand what users want and prefer and uses the insights to make design recommendations. They also analyze user behaviors and industry trends to discover ways to optimize the product experience.

A UX designer also performs user research to understand user needs, pain points, and preferences. The research may involve conducting interviews, surveys, and usability testing. The designer will then use the research insights to tailor the software’s structure, functionality, and aesthetics to satisfy user needs and preferences.

Collaboration and communication

Effectively fulfilling responsibilities as a UX architect requires working with cross-functional teams, including product managers, developers, and stakeholders. The architect will communicate overarching design principles with relevant teams to ensure their contributions to the development process align with development and business goals. The communication will cover system architecture, information hierarchy, and how different components integrate for a cohesive user experience.

A UX designer also collaborates with team members. However, a UX designer’s communications focuses more on the details of user interface development. For example, how the visual design, interaction patterns, and micro-interactions will look and operate. 

System design

A UX architect shapes the design process by establishing the standards for consistency throughout the development process. The UX designers follow the standards and principles laid out by the architect to ensure the finished product adheres to the stated guidelines.

How do UX architects & UX designers work together?

UX architects and designers work together to ensure a SaaS product development process delivers a finished software with an excellent user experience. Both teams work collaboratively throughout product development, combining their skills to deliver a user-centric product with a great UI. However, a UX architect's responsibilities are typically more strategic and holistic, while a UX designer focuses on the detailed design and execution of specific product features.

Here’s a breakdown of the many ways UX architects and designers collaborate:

Research and discovery

As we’ve pointed out, UX architects and designers conduct user research. The scope of their research may be different, but there are still overlaps. For example, UX architects research to understand user wants and market trends. The UX design team collaborates with the architects to gain insights from the research and better understand user behaviors and preferences.

Understanding user preferences will help designers build a product that solves user problems the way they want. In summary, UX architects and designers work together to understand user needs and objectives and use the insights to build a user-centric SaaS product.

Conceptualization and ideation

UX architects provide the overall system architecture for SaaS products. The architecture includes the software’s layout, navigation, and interaction flows. The architects may also build wireframes or prototypes to help designers understand what the final product should look like. UX designers take this information and build with it.

For example, the UX design team can take an architect's wireframes and flesh them out with visual design elements like color, typography, and imagery. Doing so turns the wireframes into a more detailed mockup or prototype for collecting user and stakeholder feedback. The UX designer’s contribution ensures that the final product’s design is attractive, user-centric, and intuitive without straying from the provided system architecture.

Iteration and feedback

The product development process needs UX architects and designers to work closely, especially during the iterative phases. The UX designer will collaborate with the architect to conduct user testing on prototypes and collect feedback.

The designer will leverage the feedback to refine an iteration’s visual elements and usability. The architect will contribute to the process by adjusting the software’s overall structure based on system performance and user feedback. The feedback and iterating process will continue even after the development team has an iteration they can launch.

Continuous communication

Product development can’t succeed without continuous communication among all involved parties, especially between UX architects and designers. The architect must collaborate with the design team to ensure the product’s aesthetics and usability align with the provided system architecture.

Also, through communication, the architect will collaborate with designers to address technical considerations that pop up. Without such collaboration, implementing the conceptual design created by the UX architect can be difficult.

Lastly, when UX architects and UX designers work together and communicate, it facilitates combining their expertise at different stages of the design process. Each team contributing their expertise increases the chances of launching a final product with a user experience optimized to meet user and business needs.

3 resources for hiring UX architects

Are you looking for where to find user experience architects that match your unique needs? Below are your best options:

1. DevSquad

user experience architect

DevSquad is a Utah-based SaaS product development company that offers fully-managed services. We work with SaaS companies within various niches and make product development hassle-free by handling the entire process on behalf of clients.

Each project starts with understanding what a client wants to solve. Your assigned project development squad will then proceed to storyboard to shape the user persona and journey. We will also provide a low-fidelity prototype and work with you to develop a high-fidelity prototype. At the end of the project, you will receive a SaaS product that looks great, meets target user needs, and functions seamlessly.

Learn more about how the DevSquad UX/UI team can help you kickstart your development journey with a beautiful product design.

2. Toptal

hire ux architect

Toptal is an online platform where you can connect with freelancers that provide various services, including UX design and architecture. The platform's wide variety of available user architects simplifies finding an expert who matches your budget and project requirements. However, since the platform only connects clients with freelancers, you will be responsible for managing and supervising your project development project.

3. Upwork

hire user experience architects

Like Toptal, Upwork is an online marketplace for connecting with freelance UX designers. You can find specialists with different levels of experience and skill and engage them in a short or long-term contract. The platform’s rating system simplifies sorting between the many available designers and finding the most qualified one.

Work with DevSquad

Hiring a freelancer is not for everyone, especially since they typically lack the resources and team to handle large or complex projects.

If you want a project development professional that takes the hassle out of product development and handles various-sized projects, look no further than DevSquad. Learn more about our expert approach to design and development.

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