According to Fortune, 90% of all startups fail, and the biggest reason why they fail is a poor understanding of what the customer needs. In other words, they do a poor job of investigating users’ problems and behavior.

As a result, most new products have low adoption because they don’t give a compelling case for why they’re useful or meaningful. For that reason, every startup ought to be considering UX design from day one, analyzing the target market’s pain points and crafting a product that resonates with potential users.

Uber, Snapchat, Airbnb, and Netflix are successful not because of their technology. The code that powers these platforms is fairly simple to replicate. Instead, these companies have won on their user experience. They understand what customers want in terms of convenience, usability, and speed. UX testing, design, and implementation is now the most important aspect of creating a new startup. However, many new startups neglect to implement UX design from day one.

UX design and engineering for startup founders

As a startup founder, you’ve come up with an idea that seems feasible, but how do you know if people will want to pay for it?

Understanding the demand for a product is the biggest challenge of entrepreneurship. It’s also where good UX testing starts. The first thing any good UX designer will do is talk with potential customers in the target market. By doing so, the designer gains insight into the challenges customers face. These insights get analyzed and distilled into a customer profile that outlines the wants, needs, and fears that the customer has.

Creating a customer profile like this has become a standard practice in business schools and startup founder training sessions, but most of the time it’s glossed over. Often, startups create customer profiles without ever actually talking to anyone. There’s no substitute, however, for doing the UX work of talking with actual target customers. The things you learn will inform your product’s features, benefits, and overall structure. In many cases the product you originally had in mind is not product the customer needs.

Even your MVP needs to be designed for users

In the early stages of a startup, it’s tempting to see UX design as an optional expense. After all, the priority is creating a working prototype, not a finished, refined product. However, not prioritizing UX from the beginning can lead to devastating consequences for your startup.

Good UX research is essential in the development of your minimum viable product because it illuminates what users care about and what features are not important. It also uncovers pain points where users are likely to drop out of your adoption funnel. Understanding user motivations and hurdles, also proper funnel optimization are key before you ever develop your MVP, as it affects every aspect of product creation. A good UX designer will also research your competition and help you articulate how your product is different.

However, UX design shouldn’t delay your MVP. Releasing and testing an early product as soon as possible is one of the keys to building something great. In addition, testing your MVP is one of the places where a UX team member can be most helpful. Analyzing the data on how your users are finding and utilizing your MVP is the key to creating furthermore useful iterations.

In the new iterations of your product, UX research plays a key role in deciding what to build next. Even if you have a small team, investing in a UX expert from the beginning makes sense to reduce barriers to entry and drive adoption for new users. A UX expert will also develop user personas that illustrate how people use your product. These case study personas have their own goals and task models, allowing you to identify unmet needs in the product and in the marketplace.

UX design is key to funding and capital

Investors make investment decisions based largely on gut feeling and confidence in a product. If you’re an early stage startup looking to raise capital, don’t underestimate the value of adding a UX designer to the team to make your prototype run smoothly and intuitively. Investors will be impressed if your new software has a clear use case.

The shift over the past few years has been enormous. Right now, the hottest hire in Silicon Valley isn’t a developer or data scientist. It’s a UX designer. Design is a competitive advantage as software customers increasingly expect software interactions to be intuitive right out of the box. Venture capitalists understand this trend, and in recent years VC firms have even been hiring design partners to help make investment decisions, and the trend is only accelerating.

Hiring a UX designer for your early stage startup

By now, it should be clear that UX deserves a spot in your first five hires at any new venture. With the startup ecosystem moving rapidly toward a design or die environment, it’s imperative that user experience design and testing be on any founder’s mind from day one.

Ideally, you’d be able to hire an experienced UX expert onto your team full time to guide you through the process of creating and testing your new product. However, the reality is that UX professionals are extremely valuable right now, and as such they’re expensive and difficult for new startups to hire. Many new startups have opted for less-experienced UX teams to do the work but often with lackluster results since UX relies so heavily on experience and intuition.

ETeam offers experienced UX consultants to add to your early-stage startup team. That way, you get the best of both worlds: an experienced on-demand UX expert without having to hire a full-time professional. ETeam’s UX design consultants can integrate with your own team, or they can accompany developers and project managers that you also hire through eTeam, building a complete, flexible staff that can take your startup from idea to MVP to venture capital and beyond.

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