I totally understand startup founders usually take steps too fast because of the excitement during the initiation phase. Let’s take it slow, take a deep breath, and focus yourself and evaluate every single aspect of your project. You don’t need to have any knowledge about user experience (UX) or usability to understand this article. Here I’m just trying to remind you on some basic things about UX that are pretty crucial for your project. So here are the things that you should pay attention to for your startup project.
One important thing to do before you start is to define your goals. Who will use the product? Are they going to use it? Why would they use it? I know you would think that your product is a solution that you believe the world has never seen. But you need to make sure that you’re not building something people don’t really want or need. Make sure that your product is not solving a problem that isn’t actually a big enough problem for many people. Make sure your solution is hitting the right note to gain significant traction. Make sure that you’re building the right product for your audience before perfecting the experience.
Map customer journey and use personas to define your market.
Even for startups, understanding what it is like to be your customer at all points of the customer lifecycle and across all channels can be difficult. Learn their behavior, what they usually do, what problems they are trying to solve by using the product, how they will get into the product, and what makes them share your product to their friends.
By defining personas and creating customer journey, you will be able to identify what are the best and worst cases of users in using your product. What features on the product will be dependant on the personas, not on the product team. Don’t add new features just because you think that it will help. Or because it is cool. Or you think everyone is using it.
If your product becomes a success it’s not going to be due to how many features it has. Constrain yourself. A good product has limitations. Focus on what makes your product the product and only add features if you get clear signs that it is needed (by the user, not you).
Research need to be conducted in order to know product’s position in the market.
Research that can be done in order to help in understanding the customers, competitors, and the market are:
What do they sell? Where are they good and bad at? How they market their product? How good is your product compare to them? Why would users choose your product instead of your competitors? I often find so many founders that denying that their product is in fact not better than their competitor. It’s not you who consider whether your product is better or not, it’s the users.
How’s the internet? What are the platforms do they use? How are the contract plan from existing providers? If you are targeting your product for more than one region, you need to consider other external factors such as the user would need effort in obtaining internet connection while they’re out from their region. You will also need to decide for which regions you want to launch your products first, and which ones are next.
What are the constraints? How’s the budget? How’s the timeline? How are the resources do you have to develop the product? Are the content ready yet? Don’t let developers create the copy.
Conduct usability testing with real users.
When was the last time you tested your product with users? You will gain valuable insights that you may never have otherwise uncovered. Don’t assume that your product is easy to use and intuitive just because you think it is cool. You and your product team are probably too familiar with it to be able to make that judgement. Your tolerance level to the product is much higher compared to outsiders, which might lead you away from having an objective point of view towards the product. Not only final-products, prototypes need to be tested too.
By testing the prototype or sketches in early stages of development, participants will be able to express their feelings without any burden to the product team. Spending time watching your users interact with your competitors’ products can also be very eye opening and produce a lot of insights.
As you become more involved in building your product, you’re more likely to feel that you know everything about it and tolerate its faults. Listen to outsiders; they might give feedback and insights that surprise you. Use this to improve and build a better one.
UX is not just talking about making wireframes. UX is an umbrella term encompassing how your users will interact with your product. By finding out who your users are and why they would use your product, UX can help you go back to the users and determine what they want before you make major decisions on what features to implement and design.
In my opinion, UX is supposed to be present in strategic level decisions, not treated separately as part of the design process. UX strategy is about the big picture on how you can deliver a compelling and engaging experience and it is highly relying on your ability to bring about marketing, engineering, IT, product development, sales, and operational efforts.
Naning Utoyo is a member of the UX performance and research team at MRM (Singapore), previously a UX intern at Yahoo! Indonesia. She graduated from University of Indonesia, majoring in enterprise information system. She studied usability at Human Factors International (Singapore) and Nielsen Norman Group (Australia). You can follow her on Twitter @naningutoyo.