If you’ve ever had a startup (or if you’re currently growing one) you know that you cannot afford to keep testing the water until you find a perfect fit for your business. It is crucial that you get it right on your first try, and for this you must forget the meaning of the word “compromise”. If you’ve done any research on growing businesses that involved more than 10 minutes of Google you also know that the number one issue that drives customers away is an uncomfortable user experience.
This is where UX design comes in. The times have changed tremendously since Microsoft could afford to launch intricate programs that took months to learn. Nowadays, UX is what keeps your customers hooked- their time is constantly running low, and they do not want to waste it learning how to navigate your programs or apps. Your software should be so easy to use that the customers don’t even notice they’re doing something for the first time- there should be none of the early-days hiccups when they blindly wander through tabs and buttons figuring things out.
How UX designers work
A good UX designer is not just a person who handles the button shapes and placement. Their job is to identify problems that could arise in the user experience and find solutions for them, so that when you launch your product everything is seamless. They will ask a lot of questions, and that’s important because they will focus not only on color scheme and functional performance, but also on speed, functional performance and pretty much everything else that your end user will be paying attention to.
When to bring UX to the table
From a practical point of view, you should make sure that the UX designer is one of the first people you hire. If you prioritize design and user experience from the get-go, these important concepts will remain in your company culture as it grows, ensuring a solid base for any future customer-oriented endeavors.
Keep in mind however that this also means that you can collaborate with UX designers rather than hiring them on a full-time position if that’s what works best for you.
How much is just enough?
The more engineers you have on your team, the more UX designers you need to find. Think of a ratio of about 1 UX designer to every 3-5 engineers, which may sound high but in reality is the only solution that will give you the competitive advantage of a well-though-of functional design.
You cannot expect your engineers and programmers to be a do-it-all person- even if you are one of them yourself and it’s your startup. The UX designer is specialized in improving the user’s experience with your product, just as you are specialized in programming, or in management, or whatever it is you do best.
Your team and UX
The most efficient approach is to consider the UX designer an important member of your team. You should collaborate at all times, rather than working separately and hoping that the final product can incorporate both your ideas and theirs. The product you will sell should grow under both your carefully watching eyes, and your ideas should blend so that the final product you launch is flawless both from a functional point of view, and from a user experience perspective.
And as a last thought on why your startup needs UX remember this- your user will notice the work behind a program only when something goes wrong- so you need to make sure that what you’re selling them is a 100% positive experience.