UX Hacks For Bootstrapping Business Startups

Think how Samsung and Apple are always at each other’s throats over design patents.

How YouTube, Airbnb, Flipboard, Pinterest to Etsy, among many others, have been co-founded by designers.

Sure, a large chunk of money gets earmarked for the development part, but then, designing has always being a top priority for top companies.

Even Apple’s success stories are built on well-meaning, well-crafted UX designs.

Not surprisingly, mobile app designers and website UX designers who bring in a unique approach to the table, by offering inspiring, pleasurable solutions based on psychology, anthropology, computer science, graphic design and other related theories, are greater in demand.

Given that it involves loads of analytical thinking and creativity, UX experience though it can’t be construed as a rocket science, can be surely be described as an art and craft.

“Design and marketing aren’t just as important as engineering: they are way more important”

– DaveMcClure, founder of 500 Startups

Consider this example:

You have been hired to design a broom handle by a huge industrial unit. And as per the specifications offered, the handle design should be such that both kids and adults would be able to handle it deftly.

This gives you a clear idea about your target audience – adults and kids.

What you are not clear about is how to go about creating a broom handle that suits the hands of both kids and adults, given the difference in sizes.

Enter the iteration process.

As per the process, you undertake a series of design iterations to win the approval of management, who, in turn, gets the designs tested from kids and adults alike, time and time again.

After the first, second, and the probably after the last and final iteration process, the company is able to achieve its goal of creating a product so good that it inspires its users to use it over and over again.

To make the long story short: As they say, at the heart of good writing lies several re-writes. By the same token, at the heart of good UX lies several iterations. Each iteration rationalized before the next iteration process is initialized.

“At least 2/3 of our ideas are never going to work. The other 1/3 will take 3 to 4 iterations to get right”

– Marty Cagan

Waterfall – Traditional Model For Product Development which is a failure

Waterfall Model

If you spend more time developing your product – that is to say, six months or so, without releasing it, without getting user feedback, rest assured, your product is gonna be a failure.

Right Way to Release a Product

Agile or Lean Model

The agile or lean methodology is the right approach to product development. You build and release the product after every iteration, that too “early and often.” This helps address different issues, and more importantly, helps you focus on learning and validation, which is not the case with Waterfall, where the product development happens in isolation.

Sure enough, even in lean approach, solutions to the problems are not upfront clear. But then, you go on. Iterate and iterate and iterate until you get it right. Come on, you have to be patient. In fact, you may have to make some 5 to 10 iterations, if you are a startup, to come up with a product-market fit.

Yes, it’s that big an exercise, which makes it all the more important to validate your business ideas before you begin with your iterations.

Startup UX Tips

Here dive into 3 Startup UX tips that can help you validate your development ideas, before you start spending time and money on your iteration process.

#1. Guerrilla User Testing

Sure, Guerrilla marketing is a familiar term. By the same token, Guerrilla User Testing banks on unconventional testing gimmicks that may not be welcoming for all modern UX designers. The method was first popularized by Steve Krug in his book “Don’t make me think.” According to Krug, if anything, a designer should experiment the product’s effectiveness on a single person, even if that means his or her mom. The idea is to get the product tested, rather than not getting it tested at all. This unusual research methodology is referred to as – Guerrilla User Testing.

Conventional testers may disregard this form of testing and may refer to it as ruthlessly bogus. But then, when you start your own enterprise, you’d realize it to be the ruthlessly pragmatic, given that you’d be more or less bootstrapping.

Guerrilla User Testing Tips to consider:

1] Move out of your comfort zone and visit cafes and college grounds. Talk to people. Make them use your product. If that seems to be too much of a trouble for you, run it with your neighbors. As a last resort, rope in your family members. Umm… your family members should always be your last resort for product testing because their opinions might come across as biased.

2] Treat your sample subjects with great authority. Sure, they are no subject matter experts, but then treating with respect is a prerequisite to eliciting best opinions from them. Just let them know that their opinion matters in the research work, no matter the outcome of your research.

Much as you want to use Guerrilla User Testing to measure the UX of your product, you can leverage it only when you have a basic prototype ready. In case, if the prototype is not ready and you are still keen on eliciting customer views on your forthcoming product, you can speak directly to the customers or use Skype to do the same to get as much as information as possible.

That said don’t miss out on Systematic Surveys. You need to conduct them once you are done with your Guerrilla User Testing tactics. Systematic Surveys are really important and shouldn’t be skipped at any cost because it involves statistics and its statistics that help you validate your ideas and iterations.

Try using survey.io offered by KissMetrics to chalk out your Customer Development Survey in simple steps.

#2. Minimum Payable Product

Again, Minimum Viable Product is a familiar concept, right. How about Minimum Payable Product? No clue. Okay! Minimum Payable Product is modeled on Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

I know what you are thinking now?

Why bother UX designers with a new model like MPP when MVP is working just fine for you?

For the uninitiated, the MVP model suffers from two issues basically:

  1. Hurried launch leads to half-baked, half-hearted user experience.
  2. There’s a friggin’ gap between user expectation and product performance.

The point is MVP launches are not always a success. Delivered in hurry-burry, the products are considered crap, which isn’t the case with MPP launch.

Here you are almost sure of your product’s success because you are sure of your product’s worth.

But then, you need to figure out one big reason why customers will like to pay for your product. What is that unique viable proposition that you could take advantage of?

#3. Wireframes

Sure, paper prototyping is popular world over. And there are mighty good advantages that justify its world-wide use such as it’s easier for sharing and pinning of ideas and being cheap and everything you don’t have to really think twice before dumping them.

But then, matter-of-factly, paper prototyping is the first step towards the actualization of the design part. Once the basic prototyping on paper is over, you need to move onto serious tools like the UX prototyping tools.

Why? Because UX tools help communicate ideas better, and more importantly, helps gather quality feedback from several stakeholders, including users, clients, subject matter experts and more.

Sure, there are dime a dozen prototyping tools available. So, choose the one that suits your UX style. Some of the finest prototyping tools available for prototyping include invision, Justinmind, among many others.

Measuring Your UX performance

Despite being careful about all the nitty-gritty that goes into making a masterful UX, the one important thing that you will have to consider is the measurement part. Yes, sometimes everything seems fine, even then the site won’t be attracting the required traffic and conversions, and this is when measurement comes into the picture.

Of a whole lot of metrics available to measure a start-up’s UX performance, the two crucial ones include.

#1. Economic Metrics: Economic Metrics helps you track a whole array of things such as paying customers, churn rate, cost per acquisition (CPA), life-time user value (LTV), and also average revenue per user (ARPU).

#2. Behavioral Metrics: Behavioral Metrics, on the other hand, focuses on the specific action of users such as successful signups, conversion rates and more.

Leveraging metrics help you keep track of user action. But then, do bear in mind, don’t get deeply involved as you may get buried miserably under data.

Bonus Points

Failure as a feature

What’s defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first steps to something better.

Startups are synonymous with failures. So start learning to swallow failures early on, if you are really serious about making your startup work. According to Ryan Holiday in his book, The Obstacle is the Way, “Failure is the preceding feature of nearly all success. Our capacity to try, try, try is inextricably linked with our ability and tolerance to fail, fail, fail.

It is a fact when failures happen you start looking for alternatives. And alternatives turn out to way better than the original ideas that you initially started with. To cut the crap: Failure is an asset. It is a key to breakthroughs. So embrace failures. It will make iteration stages easier for you.

Ego is the Enemy

If your startup is going great guns, there will be several out there who’d like to take credit. Let them have it! Bringing your ego in the middle might ruin your relationship with them. Be happy in their happiness. Who knows, the next product launch will have your name exclusively carved on it. People generally tend to pay back. So wait for your turn. And always, remember: all things balance out, eventually. It always has to, no matter the situation.

Over to you:

It’s a known fact that startup failure rates are exceptionally high. If we look at the brighter side of it, it spells huge opportunity for the newbie entrepreneurs because they’d have less competition to face.

So take advantage of these hacks and get your startup ball rolling. Do you have any other unique strategies up your sleeve? Go ahead and share them here.

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