Deciding to become a UX consultant can be daunting. There's a lot to consider.

I've been a UX consultant for more than a year now, after spending over 12 years working in-house. My decision to become a consultant was motivated by the desire to leverage my experience and skills to help businesses improve their website conversion rates. The increased flexibility and freedom to choose the projects and clients I work with were also significant factors.

In this article, I'll share key insights from my journey to become a UX consultant, along with tips and advice on how to get started.

What is a UX consultant?

Your career pathway can go in many different directions when it comes to the UX industry. As a UX consultant, you’ll provide design, evaluation, or strategic services to clients.

There are several ways to work as a UX consultant, including freelancing or contracting. It's important to weigh the pros and cons when deciding on the best approach to take.

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Freelance UX consultant

As a freelancer, you'll enjoy more flexibility and control over your work and how you deliver your services. However, the nature of this work can be unstable, with periods of high and low demand.



You decide on the type of work you want to be doing and the clients you want to work with.

The workload can be unstable. You’ll experience times of being busy and everything feeling great, but there will equally be times when you’re worrying about where the next job is coming from.

You can establish your service offering and determine how to deliver this to clients.

There’s no safety net, and you need savings to be able to fall back on.

You have greater flexibility and control over your life, including where you work, when you work, your set-up, and when you take time off.

It can feel lonely not having colleagues around you, so you need to build up a network to provide support.

Contractor UX consultant

The primary advantage of being a contractor is the stability provided by the duration of the contract itself. However, this approach may offer less flexibility, as you're expected to follow the schedule and work practices of the organization you’re contracting for.



Contract roles vary in length but can be anywhere from a few months to over a year, so it provides you with greater stability than being a freelancer.

You’ll follow the company’s schedule, including working hours and meetings.

You’ll be hired based on your expertise, so it will be clear to you what's required and you can focus on how your skill set will deliver value.

You’ll be expected to follow the company’s ways of working, such as how projects are briefed in and how they need to be delivered.

You can freelance on the side to increase your income and have more varied work, with the safety net of the contract role behind you.

The work will be less varied than freelancing, as you’ll be working with one organization and potentially on a specific product.

I chose freelancing because it seemed like the best fit for me. After years of in-house work, I craved more freedom and the ability to establish my own values and work methods.

I also had savings to start with, including enough money to sustain me through the initial few months if work was scarce.

How to decide if you want to become a UX consultant

Understanding why you want to become a UX consultant is crucial in determining if it's the right choice for you.

I spent over 12 years working in-house, including nine years at Silentnight Group, the UK’s leading bed and mattress manufacturer. I started as a web designer and eventually established and led a UX team within the company.

I decided that I wanted to gain experience in various types of organizations and industries, leading me to roles at a fintech and telecommunications company.

However, in both of those roles, I felt something was missing. The passion and drive I experienced during my time at Silentnight seemed to have vanished, and I needed to understand why.

A trip to Barcelona offered much-needed reflection, leading me to realize that I craved flexibility and control over what I do best. Moreover, I believed that the hard and soft skills I had developed from my in-house work experience could deliver value to more businesses.

Be sure to disconnect from your current situation and take time to reflect on your position and future goals. Ask yourself: What will make me happy? What is my passion? What is holding me back? What more could I achieve?

Answering these questions can help determine if becoming a UX consultant is the right move for you. However, you should also consider your personal situation. Do you have savings to help you get started? What are your financial commitments and can you cover them as a consultant? What kind of work-life balance do you aim for, and can a consultancy provide it for you?

How to become a UX consultant

If you've decided to become a UX consultant, it's worth spending time upfront to understand what you’re offering, what companies you might appeal to, and how your products or services will provide value.

The following is my perspective on how to become a freelance UX consultant, and is the path I pursued.

Develop a strategy

This isn't only about the products or services you offer; it's about the unique value you bring to the market and what sets you apart from the competition.

A useful way to identify your value is to request testimonials and feedback from people you've worked with. What do they commend you for? What did they value most when working with you?

I analyzed the recommendations on my LinkedIn profile to find these answers. While my technical skills as a designer were mentioned, it was my soft skills, like communication and collaboration, that were recognized as being particularly valuable.

If you haven't received any feedback, consider reaching out to people you’ve worked with. Their input can help you better understand the value you provide.

I also suggest reading No Bullshit Strategy by Alex James. Alex excellently explains how to craft a proper strategy that you can use to build your whole offering.

Identify your target market and audience

Determining your place in the market is crucial. Consider who'd benefit the most from your services. Also, think about the types of companies you wish to partner with. This could be based on the types of industries you've previously worked in, personal interests, a specific problem, or untapped opportunities you've noticed.

After defining your market, identify your target audience. Who within your market will find your offerings most appealing? How will you communicate your message to them?

A Value Proposition Canvas is a useful tool at this stage. Start with the right side of the canvas, outlining the jobs your target audience needs to accomplish, what they'll gain from getting them done, and the problems they’ll face if they fail to do so.

On the left side of the canvas, list your products or services and explain how they address your audience's challenges and the benefits you can provide.

This activity can reveal whether your offerings meet your target audience's needs and help you see where you can add value.

To fill out the canvas, you need to understand your target audience's needs. A user research tool like Lyssna can provide valuable insights into their goals and challenges. You can then use this information to tailor your offerings.

In addition, analyzing job descriptions for your target audience is another effective method. What are their primary responsibilities, and what metrics are they evaluated against?

UX consultant

Establish your business

With a strategy in place, it's time to prepare everything you need to launch your business successfully.

Here are some of the essential things you should consider upfront.

Funding and costs

How will you fund your business? If you’re planning to operate as a freelancer, you’ll need funds to cover equipment, software, and ongoing operating costs.

Early on, I created a spreadsheet detailing all the one-time and recurring costs I'd incur. This exercise was useful as it revealed the amount of money I needed to start and sustain my business for the first 2–3 months.

I used some of my savings as a loan to kickstart my business. If you don't have enough savings, or if you anticipate needing more, it's worth considering startup loans or grants that could support your new business.

After determining how you’ll fund your business, the next step involves setting up a business bank account and selecting accounting software to manage your business finances.

Branding and marketing

As previously discussed, it's important to understand your offering and its potential appeal. Now, consider how you'll deliver your message effectively. Creating a buyer persona, based on your user research, will help guide you on the best way to communicate with your target audience. With this information, you can better brand and market your business.

A website showcasing your products and services is usually expected. It’s important to make sure your website resonates with your audience by incorporating key elements from your value proposition canvas and buyer personas.

To help with this, consider conducting usability testing on your website designs to gather feedback. A few of the tests I ran when designing my website include testing the effectiveness of key landing pages, assessing their recall, and measuring what information users retained.

It may also be worthwhile doing a competitor analysis as part of any research you do for your website. Analyze the way the competition delivers their value proposition and how they engage and convert potential customers.

Equipment and software

By this point, you should have identified the necessary equipment and software to effectively deliver your products or services.

Your ideal setup will depend on your workspace and the nature of your work. For instance, as a designer, I needed a high-resolution monitor. Since I need to work from various locations, a laptop was more suitable than a desktop. Spend time considering your work habits and the equipment that will enhance your productivity.

As for software, there might be several options to consider. I needed to invest in tools for communication, collaboration, project management, user research, design, workshop facilitation, user behavior analysis, and usability testing.

In the current Software as a Service world, there are plenty of excellent choices that offer flexibility. Many services offer monthly billing and cancellation options, providing better control over your costs.

Here are some examples of software that I use to deliver my services:

  • Loom: This tool has been highly effective in communicating with my clients, so much so that they have begun using it within their own organizations.

  • Figma: This is another useful tool that enables me to quickly create prototypes, design sleek user interfaces for development, and collaborate with stakeholders in workshops through FigJam.

  • Lyssna: This provides me with a variety of methods I need for user research and usability testing.

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What's life as a UX consultant really like?

My time as a UX consultant has been full of highs and lows. Here, I want to share some of the most important things I learned during my first year in business.

It can be incredibly fulfilling

When someone asks me how I'm doing, I say this: I feel more fulfilled in the work I'm doing.

I love what I do. Understanding what drives people and designing user experiences to help them achieve their goals is something I thoroughly enjoy. This, combined with understanding the challenges that businesses face, is very satisfying.

Working with my clients, building positive relationships, and collaborating to understand and solve problems has been a pleasure. Leading this process and guiding businesses through it – and seeing the positive results from our partnerships – has been an extremely fulfilling and rewarding experience so far.

It opens up new opportunities

I've spent my entire career as a web/UX designer, gaining considerable experience along the way.

While my business primarily focuses on my area of expertise, it's also paved the way for new opportunities, including public speaking and content writing. These are avenues I've always been interested in, not for self-promotion, but because I believe I can share insightful stories that benefit anyone interested in the UX industry or those who want to make a significant impact within their organization.

Writing for Lyssna and sharing some of my stories has been a wonderful experience. I'm eager to see what other opportunities the future holds!

It provides control and flexibility

Earlier in this article, I covered the pros and cons of being a freelance UX consultant.

One significant pro is the flexibility and control that comes with freelancing. In my experience, this has indeed been the case. I greatly appreciate being able to structure my days, maintain a work-life balance that suits me, and engage in fulfilling work that I believe significantly benefits businesses.

Challenging a certain stigma

Earlier in my career, I was troubled by casual comments about becoming a UX consultant "for the money". I felt this misjudged my motivations for choosing this path. While I don't believe these comments were meant to be malicious, I've since focused on discussing how my services and approach will help potential clients achieve their goals.

Earning money is necessary for everyone to live the life they aspire to. However, this isn't my primary motivation. If it were, building a sustainable and successful business would be challenging. 

It’s worth spending time thinking about your motivations, as these will be the foundations that shape your whole business.

UX consultant

Advice for aspiring UX consultants

I've learned a lot during my first year in business, and I'd like to share some key advice for those considering a career as a UX consultant.

Develop a strategy

As mentioned above, it's crucial to have a clear vision. Reflect on why you want to become a UX consultant and how you plan to achieve success.

Expand your network

Working as a freelancer can be isolating without a team for support.

That's where networking comes into play. Keep an eye out for relevant events or meet-ups, both locally and online. Commit to regular attendance. Remember, networking is about forging mutually beneficial relationships, so resist the urge to immediately sell your products or services.

Take time to reflect

It's easy to get caught up in the demands of your job and neglect to take a step back to evaluate how things are going.

I strongly recommend setting aside a regular time for reflection. Consider stepping away from your typical work environment and jotting down what's working well and what's not.

Contemplate how you can build on your successes and address your challenges. Doing this will prepare you to continue your successful career as a UX consultant.

Set boundaries

Avoid the trap of overworking and not stepping away from your work.

Establishing a work-life balance is vital to prevent burnout. While it may be tempting to accept all the opportunities that come your way, make sure you have the capacity to handle them. Don't hesitate to decline if you lack availability.

Remember, life isn't just about work. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle will promote a healthier mindset, ultimately enhancing your performance.

Seek support

Remember, it's okay not to be an expert in everything. Seeking assistance in unfamiliar areas can be beneficial.

For instance, I recently discovered that my local authority offers support for new businesses. There are eligibility criteria to meet, but once accepted, I was assigned a business support manager. This individual has been invaluable in helping me set objectives to build and grow my business.

Moreover, I've attended workshops and networking events that have enhanced my understanding of cash flow forecasting, marketing, and business growth.

Be on the lookout for opportunities like this. And remember, you don't have to go it alone. 

UX consultant


Mark Jones is a freelance UX designer, researcher, and strategist with over 15 years of industry experience. Throughout his career, he has effectively demonstrated the benefits of and implemented people-centered approaches to problem-solving in the organizations he's worked with. Currently, he works with SMEs within the ecommerce and travel and tourism sectors, helping them identify, understand, and solve the right problems to increase conversions on their digital platforms.

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