Today we measure the worth of UX designers by the quality and sheer quantity of deliverables they produce. But startups need user experience practitioners who make stuff, rather than documents. Process is nice, but startup reality is really very fast, extra lean and your amazing idea is only valuable if it’s out there in the market.
My top 6 tips working with startups:
- Manage the product. To succeed you need to keep a firm grip on the essence of the idea and the resulting product. You are most likely the only person on the team who has ‘end users’ in mind. Introduce measures for success. Develop the concept but save the details for later.
- Make stuff, not deliverables. Think white board sketching with the team instead of wireframe tomes. Cohabit with your developers to shape the product throughout build sprints. Communication is essential to make this work.
- Don’t fall in love with your design. The product/service will transform rapidly from initial idea to your first beta launch. Low fidelity prototypes help the whole team not to get too attached. Iterate, rapidly.
- Keep your users involved in the process. Beg, steal or borrow, but make sure you test your ideas. Your target audience rarely understand disruptive products that challenge their mental models from day one. Super saver tip: User research doubles up nicely as QA testing.
- Be flexible. Know what’s vital, what can be adapted, changed, omitted, saved for later. Make sure you communicate trade-offs clearly with the team. Cutting corners doesn’t equal doing a sloppy job.
- Don’t be coy. We are all perfectionists, so this advice is not for the faint-hearted. If your initial release doesn’t suck you wasted too much time bringing it to market.
Scream if you want to go faster! Fail early, fast and often has never been more poignant advice. Working with startups is exciting and rewarding, if you enjoy making new ideas happen with a good dose of fast-paced energy, rather than a portfolio of delectable deliverables.