Outsourcing Your edTech UX Design: Everything You Need to Know

Sean Oakes bio picture Sean Oakes

Weighing the benefits vs. challenges of outsourcing UX design is an important part of developing and launching your digital tool. 

For instance, your company might not have internal UX resources—even though your product relies heavily on technology or a sleek user interface. External UX teams can be a great way to bring those skill sets to your existing product team.

You might even be in the process of strengthening your company’s internal UX capabilities. If that’s the case, there are compelling reasons to hire external UX teams as you invest in the internal resources that make in-house product development and maintenance even more efficient.

Below, we help you parse through the pros and cons of hiring an external UX team and outline the ROI of good UX.

5 Reasons to Outsource Your edTech UX Design to an External Team 

Outsourcing UX design for your edTech product is a big decision. 

Even if your external UX team has a strong background in education, the onboarding process is still an investment of your time, energy, and money. 

When all is said and done, however, you’ll see major ROI in the industry perspectives and resources your external UX team bring to the table.

Here are five compelling reasons to outsource UX for your next edTech product to an external team.

  1. You want a broader perspective on the edTech industry

    Hiring an external team has the benefit of perspective. A consulting agency often works with a wide variety of clients in the edTech sector.  Because of this, they’ll likely have a viewpoint that’s more aligned with the needs of teachers and students or with the administrative user making buying decisions for schools.

    In addition to better understanding your users’ needs, an external team will often have a deeper knowledge of your competitive market.

    Not only are they conducting competitive audits for other clients, they’re also constantly solving common design challenges, like product integration or managing a large number of users in school settings.

    Take advantage of their familiarity with the market and use it to improve your own edTech product.

  2. You’re looking for the best possible UX team

    A capable outsource team always assembles the right people for your project.

    They’ll find you the best microcopy writer, the illustrator that understands your brand, and an experienced UXR team who can help you minimize risk or dig into your competitors’ decisions.Trying to assemble this type of UX team internally has its challenges. You might not have the option to pull people off of other projects and onto your own. You may even wind up wasting money by outsourcing for additional resources late in the design process.

    To avoid delays or internal budget constraints, look externally to “right-size” your product design team.

  3. You want more disruptive solutions

    Because external UX teams are consistently solving challenges in edTech product design, they’re constantly improving. 

    This means you’ll benefit from their creative solutions for solving persistent user challenges in your own product.

    As outside experts, external teams are also poised to help you highlight the mission of your product in a way that only external teams can.

    If your stakeholders and existing product team are open to radical new solutions, hiring an external UX design team delivers.

  4. You want your internal UX team to learn best practices and new tactics

    A strong external UX team also brings new knowledge to your organization. This kind of investment in UX often goes way beyond the scope of your initial project. 

    For example, if your internal team’s strengths are in content area knowledge, the external UX team might bring new energy to your creative design efforts.

    By setting up your internal team for success, an outside design agency isn’t just developing your new edTech product. They’re also helping you further the digital transformation of your company or changing the way you approach the edTech market overall. 

  5. You want to work with experts in learning and UX

    Hiring an edTech UX specialist also has its advantages. These focused external teams understand how to structure products based on evidence and best practices in learning science

    By examining how students use technology to learn, a specialist UX team designs with a pedagogical approach and understands how to use these techniques across any content area. 

    Even if you already have an internal UX team, there’s a good chance they haven’t had the opportunity to adopt this perspective. Hiring externally could be the way to go for additional insights on the intersection of learning science and design.

The Real-World Challenges of External UX Investment

Let’s face it. Even if you have an incredible external UX team in your digital rolodex, it might not always make sense for your company or your product to hire outside. 

This is especially true for educational publishers or companies that already have an internal team. From a business perspective, it’s difficult to make a case to hire externally when your internal team is already knowledgeable about your company and its users. Even if your internal UX team might pick up new design best practices from an external company!

If you’re still weighing the benefits and challenges for hiring an outside team, here are some additional challenges to consider:

 

  • Knowledge transfer is an expensive investment. It takes time and money to bring your external UX design team up to speed. 
  • Finding the right team isn’t easy. If you’re not hiring externally on a regular basis, you might be surprised by the amount of time and investment it requires. Plus, if you choose the wrong UX design team, you risk setting your entire project back. 
  • Your internal team has a wealth of institutional or content knowledge. Don’t discount the appeal of institutional knowledge. Your internal product team might have a better sense of how your edTech digital tool fits into your company’s bigger picture. They may also have content knowledge or relationships with your editorial team that you can leverage to make a stronger edTech tool. Incidentally, the beginning stages of product planning are a great time for your internal UX team to formally document their institutional knowledge. This way, you can more easily transfer their knowledge in the future.

Why Not Both? The ROI of Working with an External UX Team While Investing Internally

If your organization is lucky, you might not have to make a choice between investing in an internal team or hiring an external team for a specific edTech project. 

There’s often a compelling reason to choose both. 

For example, an external UX team might be more capable of getting a product off the ground quickly. Meanwhile, your internal team will be well-positioned to maintain and improve your edTech product over time. 

Because of their familiarity with your company, many internal UX teams are already well-equipped to design product platforms and digital infrastructure. It may even make sense to have an external UX team work on new or more complex products while your internal team learns from the process and brings new knowledge to your core platform. 

That’s especially true if you have the opportunity to work with UX teams who are specialists in learning science and design. If outside UX designers are experts in using pedagogical techniques across multiple content areas, your internal design team will only benefit from the collaboration.

Whether you’re a publishing company going through a digital transformation or an edTech startup building your internal team, a strong external UX design team makes an outsized impact on your organization. 

Long after your edTech product launches, you’ll find ROI in your organization’s improved design processes, the continued adoption of design best practices, and your team’s deepening knowledge of the edTech industry as a whole.

Are you weighing the benefits vs. challenges of outsourcing your UX design as you plan a new edTech product? Reach out with questions or to ask for an estimate!

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