User Experience and Startups

User Experience and Startups
Jan 28th, 2010

...a startup founder who “gets” user experience and design will likely create a more successful product than one who does not. It’s not just because a great user experience makes a product more enjoyable and ultimately fun to use. It’s because this type of design thinking and understanding of the customer seeps into every other aspect of the product.

— Jeff Gothelf, In the beginning (there should be UX)

Jeff’s short post really resonated with me.  I have been thinking a lot about the notion of startups and building a good user experience from the ground up right from the start.  So many established companies are struggling to undo years of bad content, bad code, bad design and even simply bad ways of thinking about the customer.  I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to engage with these kinds of companies to help them integrate good user experience into their business.  Startups have the advantage of starting with a clean slate.

One of the most common things I have to remind these clients of is that good user experiences is not just about what we do but how we think.  User experience isn’t just about a new way of doing something with your product or service, its a new way of thinking about the customer engagement.  It is a philosophy.  A philosophy in how the business operates right down to the mission statement.  This way of thinking needs to be adopted in not just the process and product or service, but in every single employee from the CEO to the receptionist.  Only then does the user experience turn into a game changer for the startup. 

I will close with a quote from JJG at the last IA Summit:

Somebody in this room right now, at some point in the future, is going to be the CEO of some company other than a design firm.  They will develop all of those right managerial and political skills to rise to that level of power and they will institute a culture in their organization that respects user experience.  And then they are just going to start kicking their competitor’s asses.

— Jesse James Garrett, 10th Annual IA Summit Closing Plenary

About the author

Nick Finck is a user experience professional who has dabbled in the web for over a decade. He specializes in information architecture, interaction design, usability and user research. Read more

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