Five Things to Look for When Recruiting an Interactive Designer

At Saggezza, our work is concentrated in the interactive realm: mobile and native apps, responsive web sites, desktop interfaces, etc. Rarely do we touch print-based design, and when we do it’s typically for in-house publications and marketing materials. Our team members—and for the purpose of this article, designers—have to know the constraints and sensibilities of interactive design (maybe you’re interested in what we look for in an Interactive Developer?).

Most design principles, which are traditionally taught in the lens of 2D (posters, billboards, print publication layouts, etc.) and 3D (packaging, point of sale displays, etc.) design do have carry-over into the interactive space. But there are many interactive-focused traits and qualities that we look for when recruiting and hiring interactive designers.

Here are 5 things I look for when recruiting an interactive designer:

  1. HTML/CSS: This should go without saying, but with the current state of isolation in design education in most universities, students have limited to no access to web development skills, outside of being told, “you’ll probably want to look into it.” At Saggezza, it is required for all designers to have a cursory understanding of HTML/CSS. With understanding of front-end code comes appreciation for the idiosyncrasies of interactive design.
  2. Experience Working with Multiple Programmers: Working with a group of designers, or with a developer on a single project is a lot different than working in a typical interactive environment: Project Managers, Developers, Designers, and Product Managers or Stakeholders. Determine if recruits are familiar and comfortable working in a traditional group environment. Ask recruits what types of project management methods he/she has been involved with? Waterfall or Agile?
  3. Experience with Version Control: Determine if the recruit has used a version control system before? Git or SVN? Again, harping on the state of design education, most students come out of school with no understanding of version control. Those that do, tend to be developers. Version control is as important to designers as it is to developers.
  4. Interests Beyond the ‘Web’: Showing an interest in other interactive media like motion graphics, animation and virtual reality can greatly expand understanding and horizons in interactive design. See how far recruits push the boundaries of interactive design. Remember, great interactive design doesn’t come from analyzing and duplicating what is happening now, but rather, what is going to happen 1-2 years in time.
  5. Web Consumerism: Recruits need to love the web, consume the web. Determine if recruits are in an endless pursuit of interactive knowledge, in the past, present and future.

Remember, this isn’t an end-all be-all list. These are 5 important points that stick out. And remember, it is assumed that all interactive designers have a strong knowledge of design principles. Without that base knowledge, it’s hard to grow and expand.


Written by Peter