Am I Blind Or Are These The Only 8 UX Consultancies In The World?

The UX Consultancies I found through search

I spend a lot of time studying and talking about the User Experience (UX) and what it means for companies and their products and services. So if UX is a real thing, then who are the people and agencies that are applying it? What are they called? Where are they located? Who are they serving? How do you find them?

Come to find out, it’s not all that easy to find “UX Consultants.” My Google search brought up a freelance designer, links to articles, a posting for a job and a question query service. Not what I expected. I extended my search to “UX designer”, “UX consulting” and “user research” which brought up some more companies that consult for UX.  I know they exist, but I had to extend my search from google into LinkedIn to find companies and professionals in the field of UX.

There were many firms that implement UX into their processes, but have not branded themselves “Consultants.” Perhaps it is a vocabulary issue or the fact that most of these companies are not only consultants, but they have the staff and capability to apply the recommendations they make based on user feedback. Although there were a lot of firms from outside the US that came up in my research, I wanted to focus only on the ones in the US.

So here are some of the firms came across in my research.  These are the big guys. So are smaller companies hiring UX consultants? Where are all the UX consultancy firms? If you know of one, list it in the comments!

1. Progress

Seattle, Washington

Services

Remote Research
Mobile Research
Card Sorting
Usability Testing
Expert Review
Prototype Testing

Clients

Dell, Microsoft, South by Southwest (SXSW) Inc., Quicken Loans, Inc., Starbucks, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Hewlett Packard, Palm, Inc., ConocoPhillips

Impressions

As you know, UX is all about user feedback. These guys are the research people. They are doing the research, conducting the test, making the recommendations and then turning it back over to the designers and programmers to implement the recommendations. They are handling a very important aspect of the UX process.

2. Key Lime Interactive

Doral, Florida

Services

Qualitative

  • Usability Testing
  • Eye Tracking
  • Shop Along
  • Diary Study
  • Triads/Focus Groups
  • Ethnography

Quantitive

  • Competitive Benchmarking
  • True Intent
  • Open Web Research
  • Card Sort
  • Prototype Testing
  • Intercept Surveys
  • Latin America Beta Testing
  • Analytics Review

UX Consulting

  • Expert Review- looking to gauge how you stack up against your competition
  • UX Scoreboard- a usability expert reviews your current design and identifies potential usability problems
  • UX Roadmap-assistance with overall strategy

Clients

ACS, a Xerox Company, Barnes and Noble, Domino’s Pizza, ESPN, Health Care Management, HSBC, Kroger, La-Z-Boy, Novo Nordisk, PayPal

Impressions

Key Lime Interactive is not a UX design company, they are doing research, evaluations and recommendations for their clients. I really like this company for a few reasons: I heart key lime pie (I make a dang good key lime pie) and their CEO is a lady web nerd. Also, they know what they are doing when it comes to user research and usability testing.

3. Gotomedia

San Francisco, CA

Services

Strategy

  • Roadmapping
  • Analysis
  • Workshops

Lifestyle research

  • Behavioral Segmentation
  • Contextual Research
  • Mobile Research

Usability testing

  • Rapid Testing
  • Remote Testing
  • Formal Lab Testing

Interaction design

  • Information Architecture
  • Visual Design
  • Application UI

Clients

CBS, Sony, Adobe, TriNet, viator, National Library of Medicine

Impressions

Whereas other companies do the research and pass the baton to the next guy, gotomedia is a firm does the research and then they implement the recommendations themselves.

4. Iteration Group

Westlake Village, California

Services

  • Product Development
  • UX/Web/Mobile/Graphic Design
  • Software Engineering

Clients

Buggam
Chownow
Education Elements

Impressions

These guys appear to be more in the product development sector of UX with their primary clients being start-ups.  They came up in my search for UX consultants but considering the user does not appear to be in their design process. But let’s hope that they are in fact, listening to the user.

5. Eaton Golden

Minneapolis, MN

Services

Expert Services: These are intensive and fast-paced UX projects

  • UX Diagnostic™
  • UX Charrette™
  • UX Feature Planning
  • Usability Testing + User Research

Partnership Services: For Clients in the early stages of a business-critical, multi-phase UX initiative.

  • User Experience Strategy + Planning
  • User Experience Design
  • User Experience Design Implementation + Specifications

Usability Lab Rental

Clients

Wells Fargo, Target, EcoLab, Life Touch, 3M

Impressions

They primarliy work with Fortune 500 companies. I see them as a full-service UX firm, being instrumental in every level of the product and design development process through research, planning, and design.

6. David Crowther

A freelance UX designer in the UK

Services

  • User experience (UX) strategy
  • Information architecture
  • Online/Internet strategy
  • Conversion rate optimisation
  • Usability testing and analysis
  • Heuristic evaluations
  • A/B split and multivariable testing
  • Copywriting

Clients

Listerine, Barclay’s Wealth, NatWest, Q8, Trend Micro, Hertz, QUBA

Impressions

Although David isn’t really what I was looking for in my research, I had to list him in this article since he came up as the 2nd search result in Google for the phrase “UX Consultant” and appeared in several other searches. Although David is his own brand and is billed as “freelance UX designer” he has an impressive list of clients and testimonials.

7. AnswerLab

http://answerlab.com/

San Francisco, CA & New York, NY

Services

  • User Experience Research- Insights for every stage of the development cycle
  • Mobile & Tablet
  • Websites
  • Social
  • Gaming
  • Digital Strategy

Clients

Adobe, Skype, Amazon.com, McAfee, Best Buy, CBS

Impressions

They are the answer people! These guys are serious into user research and reporting for UX for big-time brands like Adobe and Amazon.com. Their emphasis on benchmarking progress with their clients and their own company helps them t0 always stay in tune with where UX is heading.

8. Digital Telepathy

San Francisco, CA & San Diego, CA

Services

  • STRATEGIC WEB CONSULTING
  • USER INTERFACE & UX DESIGN
  • WEB APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT
  • INTERACTION DESIGN, XHTML, CSS
  • CUSTOM WORDPRESS DEVELOPMEN

Clients

Skype, McAfee, Adobe, Walmart, HP, Ebay, Facebook

Products

Hello Bar, Flare, Slide Deck

Impressions

I was very impressed with this company. I really like their value proposition “21.6% Conversion Increase in Less than 30 Days.” That’s pretty powerful stuff! Although they are not branded as “UX Consultants”, they do implement the user into their design process (see below). They are also responsible for the development of Hello Bar and Slide Deck.

Conclusions

UX is a real thing. A BIG thing that a lot of individuals and agencies have adopted into their product design and development processes. Based on my research, primarily larger corporations are embracing UX and many are hiring third party agencies to do the work. There are many different types of UX firms out there, some do all the work internally, some perform different aspects of the research and implementation process.  In addition to hiring third party firms, UX consultants are hired as full-time employees within an organization.

The important takeaway is that organizations see the value in considering the customer and they are taking action to listen and seeing positive results from the initiative.

19 comments on “Am I Blind Or Are These The Only 8 UX Consultancies In The World?

  1. Well written article Jenna. As you mentioned,this is only for America. In Israel alone there are probably 10 UX consultancies.
    I don’t think you’re correct about the number of consultancy firms, because many firms don’t market themselves the way you searched. Adaptive Path is missing here and so is Creative Good.
    Especially in Google Search…if people are searching for different items, why write SEO for the item you searched?
    Also, you’re looking for independents and not for in-house UX people who aren’t project-based UXers. I think UXPA is a good place for you to start. Also, UX is splintered in to a thousand different “types” including (but not limited to): IxD, IxDA, HCI, IA, IA (the other one), UI, etc. etc. etc. This might be a semantic issue. Anyway, a good outline of the big-guns :)! Keep it up!

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your comment and for mentioning Creative Good and Adaptive Path as additional UX consultancies. I realize there are other firms 😉 as well as many titles and positions within UX out there. I was just surprised that it was not something simple to search for as it required quite a bit of digging in google search just to find the ones I did. I will add these to the list of firms in our UX Directory. Please feel free to add more.

  2. I agree, a very good article Jenna. I also run a UX consulting company (8-bit Bear Consulting) and have worked with Progress (a great company with awesome people) on multiple projects.

    Our company has found some difficulty in being visible due to variations in the nomenclature used in our field (as Andrew alluded to). We label ourselves with terms like “Usability,” but I find that there are so many variations in the “types” of work we do that it’s hard to be all encompassing. Add to that the fact that we also do work in a more specialized field (Video Game Usability) and it becomes even more difficult. I think the recent change of the UPA to the UXPA demonstrates the potential movement towards a more cohesive and all-inclusive label.

    I think another factor in regard to visibility, one that emphasizes the importance of being found on the web, is that consultant listings and word of mouth are the main way in which we sell our company’s services. I do a lot of networking and try to stay in multiple online listings of UX consultants, but I can’t run a radio ad or put up a billboard and expect it to pay for itself. Taking pride in the work you do and relying on referrals and word of mouth are key to getting more business. An online presence can be just as (if not more) important.

    Now I have to figure out why we didn’t show up in your search and how to change that! 🙂

  3. Add D2 (Documents & Design, LLC) to your list. We currently use the term “usability” and stay away from “consultants” because our team doesn’t just tell our customers what they need to do, but we oftentimes do it for them. We have a diverse group that includes UX, writers, graphics, programmers, engineers, and more.

  4. I should add that we have some very big clients (who ask to remain nameless because of the dirty laundry we see) and we are in North Sioux City, SD. If that sounds familiar its because it is where the HQ for Gateway used to be and is where most of us started. 🙂

  5. Hi Jenna, I stumbled upon your post and was happy to see Iteration Group (my company) listed.

    The user is indeed in our design process. 🙂

    Regarding *how* folks search for these kind of services, we’ve found that startups are looking mostly for help “designing” or “building” their product. When we meet them, we walk them through our user-centered design methodology and usually recognize the value of a plan that involves market research, in-depth user research, task analysis, wireframing, usability testing, etc.

    There are certainly a lot of “design shops” / “creative agencies” and “development shops” out there, and far fewer firms that market themselves as UX shops / UX consultancies.

  6. Interesting. I don’t even recognize most of those you listed, and I have worked with a dozen which I would consider much, much larger and better known if you read relevant blogs and other publications.

    And then there are an unlimited number of 1-10 man shops and virtual agencies. And of course a lot of the hiring of UX consultancy is by organizations that are also marketing, PR, advertising, industrial design and/or development.

    Plus, the world changes all the time. Big names move from one agency, to another, to working for themselves.

    Discovery is interesting. I am in the latter (my own consultancy) category, and just write, speak, etc. and the name is out there, so without a strong SEO component (as you discovered the first list) put no effort into finding clients. People come knock on my door at /about/ the rate I need new work.

    • Thanks Steven for your comments and feedback. There are so many different facets of UX and how companies go about hiring individuals and firms that a few google searches was probably not be best way to go about finding them but I definitely learned a lot in the process and from all the great comments.

      Also, be sure to share a link to your company in the comments.

  7. Agree with Steven – never heard of any of those companies and have been in in the field for 15 years.

    Not on your list, but shaking things up:

    http://www.lookthink.com
    http://www.eightshapes.com
    http://www.ideo.com/
    http://www.limina.com
    http://www.nclud.com
    http://www.electronicink.com/
    http://www.navigationarts.com
    http://www.blinkUX.com
    http://www.sparkexperience.com
    http://www.intridea.com/
    http://istrategylabs.com/
    http://clearleft.com/

    List is endless….

    I recommend you read UXBooth, SmashingMagazine and check out IXDA and UXPA to get a deeper dive.

  8. Hi my son Jack has won on of the uxpa Washington dc scholarships and will be visiting USA in July. We live in the UK. He was hoping to visit San Francisco and stay for a few days. San Francisco is the place he wants to carry on his work after leaving university. he has carried out 2 years at university and has had a year working as a Junior UX Consultant at Bunnyfoot he will be back to university in October to finish his final year, Jack is a very bright boy So any pointers or people he could meet up would be must appreciated. Check him out on jackh.me and his winner video jackholmes.me/video. Don’t miss out somebody is going to get a great ux consultant.
    Kind regards a very proud Dad Kelvin Holmes.

  9. Stumbled on this blog – really good – but where are all the big name players out there that most people know about in regards to UX (and everything included in it)?

    I don’t think any of the companies you listed are nationally recognized (i.e. Forrestor / Gartner)

    Examples include:

    IBM Interactive
    Accenture Interactive
    Deloitte Digital
    Booz Digital
    Sapient Nitro
    Razorfish
    HUGE
    kbs+p
    Big Spaceship
    R/GA
    firstborn
    AKQA
    droga5
    Code and Theory
    Digitas

  10. Hi Jenna,

    Thanks for mentioning my website in your list. I think the issue here isn’t the lack great UX consultancies, but rather a lack of SEO knowledge by these companies.

    While not an expert, I have a good understanding of SEO which has helped me rank well for many relevant keywords over time. Of course, my website’s been live for over 12 years and that also helps!

    Many thanks,
    ~ David

  11. We’ve worked very diligently to monitor our website keywords, online ads, etc. to stay on the radar when prospective clients search for UX research services. The challenge facing our industry, and UX in general, is terminology. Often key terms are either not well understood and/or include a widespread definition, e.g. “Usability” is now referred to as “UX” which is an even broader term. I feel this ambiguity equals a sometimes limited set of web search results, as your article points out.

    Appreciate your bringing this to light!

    Jon-Eric Steinbomer, Progress

  12. Interactive Marketing Agencies specialize in UX Consulting…. so I think you might be blind? haha.

    just take a look @ the link below (it documents the different ppl in the competitive UX space):

    http://www.sapient.com/assets/ImageDownloader/363/

    all of these guys offer:

    User research
    Persona creation
    Persona application
    Design process
    Skills and staffing
    Measurement
    Collaboration abilities
    User experience
    Brand Image experience
    Satisfaction of reference clients

  13. Good article. Our company (humanfactors.com) does human factors engineering, usability, and user experience (UX) work. Thanks for the reminder to watch our keywords and synonyms! Best wishes in your work.

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