You probably created your start-up because you saw a hole in the market or a problem you could solve. It’s likely something that you’re passionate about and that brings you feelings of fulfillment and purpose. However, no matter how zealous you are, you know that profit is what lies at the base of every business.
Start-ups face tricky questions like “What’s the best way to promote my product?” and “What can I do to gain market share over my competitors?”. Quality UX design can help address these questions and contribute to the overall success of your company.
What is UX Design and what’s so special about it?
User Experience (UX) design is really about discovering what your customer wants – it’s the process of designing products that create relevant and meaningful experiences to users. This includes aspects of design, usability, branding, function in the process of acquiring and integrating the product.
Customer-centred service will never go out of style. In fact, more than 50% of customers would pay more for a good experience. In today’s market, having an excellent product will only get you so far; the real value comes from how you wrap it and who you offer it to.
You can think of a UX designer as the missing link between product creators and product users (AKA customers). A good UX designer will help you understand your audience and deliver on their needs. The sooner your start-up can identify your customer’s needs, the more likely you’ll be able to build something they’ll want to purchase.
Why Do You Need a UX Designer?
Here are our top five reasons why you should have a UX designer on your team from day one.
UX designers can help ensure that users will have the best experience with your product by testing the waters first. UX designers know that successful businesses have exhaustive knowledge of their competitors and their customers. Before even starting with development, they will need a few questions answered:
- How much need is there for a product we plan to develop? What’s the market potential?
- Who is the target audience? What problems are the users trying to solve by using similar products? What motivates them and what challenges do they face?
- Who are the competitors and how are they feeling in this niche?
- How much are potential customers willing to pay for the product? What essential and optional features must the product include to satisfy the users?
UX designers conduct market and user research to find answers to these questions. User research begins with user demographics and ends with personal interviews. The goal of user research is to gain a better understanding of the behavior of your potential customer in the most comprehensive way possible. Generally, this involves conducting interviews, studying user environments, and determining the demand for the particular solution or product.
Organizing your customers into user personas is a handy way to develop your product with each target audience at the forefront. A UX designer will draft several profiles of people who characterize your potential customers, based on the designer’s research. Creating fictional personas can help the entire team understand who the product is for and what type of person would buy it.
The research carried out by UX designers helps them fill in the following characteristics of a user persona:
- problems to solve
- goals and motivations
Rather than asking yourself what you would do if you were in the customer’s shoes, user personas can give you actual feedback on what your target audience would do, based on data. Not sold? The numbers speak for themselves: over 70% of companies with documented personas claimed to have exceeded revenue and lead goals.
Wireframes and Prototypes
A wireframe is a simplified outline or layout, which help UX designers think through the information hierarchy for the product, website, or app. Essentially, wireframes are the backbone or basic blueprint of the project, which is why it’s necessary to have a UX designer create one from the get-go. Wireframes operate on the structural level and typically have block layouts, use lines to represent text, and “X” squares to represent future images. They leave out things like visual elements and branding details.
A prototype is a step up from wireframing; it must be interactive and look as similar to the final UI as possible. The goal of a prototype is to simulate how the users would interact with the product. It will be used by potential customers to test your product and gather feedback.
Once your prototype is built complete with visual design and working elements, comes the time to test its usability on real people! Ideally, to make sure the test is relevant, you’ll want participants that represent your target audience personas.
During the development process it’s common to have several iterations of usability testing as you identify problems and fix new issues. Usability testing is an essential step to success on the market. It allows you to witness the real user journey, get emotionally neutral, unbiased feedback, and helps your UX designer fix issues as soon as they’re detected.
The most common usability tests are:
- unmoderated testing
- moderated testing
- guerilla testing
UX designers play a key role in product development, however their value doesn’t expire with the launch of the product. After product launch, you will inevitably start to see comments from customers, performance analytics, and discover new features that you’ll want to add on. UX designers can analyze customer feedback and key data points to come up with refinements and changes that will improve the user journey, which results in more happy customers. They will also continue to bridge the gap between customers and the development team to make sure both groups understand one another.
UX combines research, analysis, testing, graphic design, and communication. UX designers will help you understand your target audience to optimize your product and keep a pulse on evolving customer demands to keep your brand relevant. Without one, you may lose the link between the users and your team, which can lead to mistakes and problems in design and functionality.