Fresh out of college, I joined a health-tech startup as a Senior Business Analyst of Product. I loved the vision of the startup and amazing attitude of the founder. All was good except the fact that their core product was mired with poor UX. The onboarding process had unnecessary steps involved and created cognitive noises for potential users. In my short tenure there, I did as much as I could to help improve the user experience.
Later on, with a deep desire to solve user experience challenges, I joined one of the best design labs in the country as a UX designer.I also started a personal blog and wrote about UX of famous Indian startups and companies. In due process, I realized that most of the startups are not giving enough attention to user experience. Most of the times, design is limited to visual aesthetics rather than experience. I analyzed app of a leading ed-tech startup in India and published that to my personal blog. They are solving a big problem and founding team has some very big names involved. They recently got funded in millions but the app suffers from serious UX challenges. I e-mailed about the analysis to one of the founders of the startup and he was receptive enough to acknowledge the challenges and thank me.
Startup founders need to understand that user experience is a very critical part of holistic product development process. I understand the fact that when you are a startup and under a tight budget, it might not be feasible for you to hire a design consulting firm or have an in-house design team. But poor UX can cost you business.
Just to give you a rough Idea based on some research:
1. In a study provided by adaptive path, Bank of America, it was revealed that 45% of the users give up when the registration is hard.
2. 68% of the customers who leave a business say they left because they felt like the business did not care about them.
3. Developers spend, on average, close to 50% of their time making changes after initial development.
Therefore, the question is how could we make the user experience of our application better with the existing budget constraints.
There is no substitute for the expertise that a design lab or an experienced in-house team can bring. Consider design as the soul of the product and try to bring in designers as soon as possible. Designers along with developers should drive your product development.
Neglecting UX can result into poor usability that will lead to frustrated and confused users, who are not coming back. A user decides in a fraction of a minute that whether your application is worth their time. Most likely, you only have a single chance to prove that you are worth their time and effort.
Though the gamut of user experience is very vast and I cannot talk about everything related to UX here, But I will try to give some practical points to fix your UX when you cannot afford a design team:
1. Do User Interviews-I cannot emphasize enough about how important are user Interviews for crafting an amazing user experience. Talk to your target users, understand their pain points. Involve them in your design process. You’d be amazed by insights that you will discover from your users. Do usability tests. Try to observe real users using your product and if they are struggling, fix the same. Remember, you design for users not for yourself.
2. Work on your onboarding experience-As I mentioned, almost half of your users will give up if your onboarding process is difficult. You need to be very empathetic with your users. Provide social login options. Do not force signing up on users. Make the purpose of signing up very clear. Use helpful copy and guide users along the way.
3. Avoid feature creep- Always remember that experience makes the product, not the features.Remove features that are not being used, No matter how emotionally connected you are to that feature and how useful you perceive it to be for your users. At the end of the day, you are designing for your user’s preferences, not for yours.
4. Set Up a Google Analytics Account- You need to track users of your app or website. With the help of analytics, you will get real-time analytics. You will discover great insights. You will understand usage patterns and can make changes to your product based on that.
5. Get your IA(Information architecture) right- Someone has rightly said, findability precedes usability. In the alphabet and on the web. You can’t use what you can’t find. Work on your Information architecture. Give it a logical flow and put most used features on top and hide least used ones(Progressive disclosure). Group elements which are logically connected so that it does not create a cognitive load on your users. You can use card sorting which is simple yet effective technique for getting your IA right.
6. Read UX literature- Last but not the least, read about UX. Read blog articles related to UX. Read Interaction design books. I won’t be naming resources here, a simple google search will lead you to ample of great learning material.
I will conclude with a famous saying about UX, If you want users to like your software you should design it to behave like a likable person: respectful, generous and helpful.