5 Reasons Why Your Startup Needs a UX Designer from Day One
Any product or service we create aims at earning money. We can hide behind the more honorable reasons like solving customers’ problems, offering more convenient or cheaper alternatives, innovating and entertaining. But while all of these reasons are valid, profit lies at the base of every business. How can I make people use my product? What can I offer to sidestep my competitors? What’s the best way to promote my service? These are the questions every startup team faces. And, believe it or not, quality UX design can be the answer to all of them. Keep on reading to find out how.
Before everything else, UX is about discovering what your customer wants. Regardless of the hyped technologies you use, be it IoT, AI or VR, customer-centered service stays a top trend in web development and design. In fact, 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience. Today, creating an excellent product is not enough – it’s how you wrap it and whom you offer it to that matters most.
A UX designer is the one who can help you with the task. They are this missing link between creators and customers: a good UX designer can make businesses understand their audience and deliver what the customers need precisely. The sooner your startup defines its customers’ needs, the better chance you’ll’ have at building something they’ll be ready to buy.
Here are the top five reasons why having a UX designer involved in your project from the first days is a sound idea.
To ensure that users receive the best experience, UX designers will test the waters first. Here’s a list of questions they will need answered before even starting the development:
- Is there a need for a product we plan to develop? What’s the market potential?
- Who are the competitors and how are they feeling in this niche?
- What is our target audience? What problems are the users trying to solve by using similar products? What motivates them? What challenges do they face on their way?
- How much your potential customers are ready to pay for the product? What essential and optional features it has to include to satisfy the users?
To find the answers, UX designers conduct both market and user research. Market research includes studying offerings, their main features and drawbacks, their frequency, etc. Also, it presupposes finding out the appeal of the idea and what drives customers to pay for it (and how much). Next, market research slips to user research: starting with user demographics and finishing with personal interviews. The task is to understand the behavior of your potential buyer, as completely as possible. This means studying users’ environment, conducting interviews and trying to find out whether the need for this particular solution/product actually exists.
Creating user or buyer personas is a nice and handy way to develop your product with a specific target audience in mind. Summarizing the results of the research, a UX designer will develop several profiles of people who represent your potential customers. These fictional personas help the entire team understand who they create the product for and whom they will sell it to.
UX designers use research information to fill in several profile sections:
- goals and motivations
- problems to solve
It is natural for people to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and ask “What would I do if I were to book a flight/order sneakers/choose a drone for farm survey?” But it isn’t a good idea since the developers and designers are not always the target audience for the specific product or service.
That’s the reason why buyer personas exist: you ask “What a fictional John Doe, 35, farmer, married, two kids, and so on, would think, feel and do if he were to buy an industrial drone?” This approach proves to be highly efficient in creating excellent UX: 71% of companies with documented personas, among other gains, have exceeded revenue and lead goals, and 82% have improved their value proposition.
Wireframes and Prototypes
Wireframes help UX designers create and think through the information hierarchy for the website, app or product. This is the closest step to visual design and the UI specialist’s responsibilities.
Wireframing is a schematic visual representation of the user interface on the structural level, without any visual elements or branding details. It means organizing elements on the page in the way users would want to see them (based on the previous research and personas). Wireframes are used in the early stages of development to create a backbone of the future visual design and content. That’s why it makes sense to employ a UX designer in your startup team from the start.
A prototype, on the other hand, is a level higher from wireframing, and it’s more of a UI designer’s task. It has to be interactive and resemble the final UI as much as possible. The mission is to simulate the interaction between users and the product, so the buttons should be clickable, operations should be fulfilled and so on. You will use a prototype to let users test your product and gather feedback.
After you’ve built a prototype with visual design and working elements, it’s time to test its usability on real people from your target audience. It would be perfect to find the participants that represent your fictional personas. Usually, you’ll have several iterations of usability testing during the development process, identifying and fixing new issues every time. The most common tests are:
- guerilla testing
- unmoderated testing
- moderated testing
Usability testing is the best way to watch the real user journey, get unbiased and emotionally neutral feedback and help a UX designer polish everything as soon as the issues are detected.
The job of a UX designer doesn’t end with the product release. After some time, you’ll have more comments from customers, performance analytics, additional features you’ll want to add and so on. By analyzing the stats and feedback, UX designers may come up with additional refinements and changes that will improve the user journey. They will stay in touch with your customers as well as your development team and make sure that both groups understand each other.
UX requires multitasking: it combines research, analysis, graphic design, testing and lots of communication. UX designers are responsible for the early stages of your product, where there’s only an idea and no real understanding of user needs or pains. Also, they are the ones who will keep a finger on the pulse of the constantly evolving customer wishes and help you improve your product according to them.
A UX designer should be an essential part of your startup team. Without one, you risk losing the link between your team and users, which can lead to costly mistakes in product design and functionality. And it’s always better to avoid problems than fix them later.