Design and UX: A One-Two Punch for Startups

one two punchIn my last post, I looked at the importance of product to a startup’s success. A good product give it a shot at building a business. A bad product is, well, just bad.

For startups with a product that addresses a problem or makes life more efficient, productive, profitable, et al, one of the crucial elements is having the one-two punch of  user-friendly design and an easy, intuitive user experience.

Good design and UX makes a startup’s product accessible to users. It drives people down the sales funnel, delivers a delightful experience and encourages people to share their discovery. It seems so straightforward but many startups drop the ball on both counts.

So what is good design it’s a subjective topic?

To me, it is a clean and simple look and feel. Accompanied by well-articulated messaging, it is a snap for people to understand what a startup does, why they would be interested and, as important, how they would begin to get into the product.

Weaved within beautiful design is the user experience that makes it easy for a customer to embrace a product without doing much work.

Great UX makes things easy to do. It provides a Website with flow, making each step along the way (be it registration, downloading, e-commerce), a no-brainer. It makes people do things without them thinking they are doing any work.

So how do startups discover good design and UX?

In a recent blog post, Braden Kowitz, a partner with Google Ventures, talked about how startups can improve the design and UX process by creating “stories” around how someone would use a Website.

He said startups should uses whiteboards to create multi-part stories that show the different steps and decisions a user would make when trying to complete a specific task. The strength of this approach, he said, it does the following:

1. It simulates the user experience

2. Team spot problems earlier

3. It clarifies design goals up-front.

When you think about it, every startup should be creating user “stories” to improve its design and UX. By creating the actual scenarios a customer would experience, it is easier to meet their needs and goals. 

The big challenge many startups encounter with design and UX is they don’t take a customer-centric view of the world. Instead, they are focused on telling potential customers what they offer rather than what a potential customers wants to know or do.

It is a slightly different look through the lens but it makes a dramatic difference.

By thinking about how customers behave and what they want to achieve, a startup can quickly and easily improve its design and UX. Of course, it helps to do testing to validate approaches and ideas but starting with what the customer wants is a great way to do better work faster.

Links: For more good insight into Website design, check out this blog post by John Siebert on the “Art of Designing User Driven Websites”.

Note: While I’m not a design or UX person, I consider both to be integral parts of startup marketing because they play an essential role in engaging consumers.

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  • Carol

    Great point, Mark. But before you can write stories about your users you need to understand who those users are. Too many companies, when asked who their product’s users are, say “everyone” or “the general public”. Starting with a set of 2-3 realistic user types (or personas) helps to focus the discussion of what different users are trying to accomplish with your product.