Advice

Three common mistakes to avoid when building digital products

I routinely meet startup founders who believe they don’t need to learn about user experience (UX) design because they know enough to be able to build a great product. Unfortunately, they often confuse UX design with commonsense.

While a good chunk of UX design is about commonsense, there are important principles to learn and useful practices to apply to craft delightful experiences beyond what people tend to take into consideration.

In this article, I’ll share a few common mistakes founders fall into while building their startups, and how they can avoid them.

1) Building a product nobody wants

This is the elephant in the room, and it’s hard to talk about failed businesses without addressing this issue. A “product nobody wants” does NOT mean that the problem doesn’t exist or that the promised reward is not desired.

People may continue to complain about an issue while overlooking solutions for it.

Why?

Because every product is a journey, and if the upfront investment (in time, money, effort, or learning) is higher than the perceived value of reaching the destination, it’s likely that people won’t commit to the path and, therefore, your product will fail.

This is why the problem you address needs to be big enough to warrant a solution that will attract a large number of interested users.

2) Focusing only on the problem

It’s surprising how many founders invest their time, money, effort, and ambitions in a startup without doing any competitive analysis to understand who’s already in the market. And many founders are quick to dismiss a competitor because it’s lacking a feature or they believe their approach to the problem is better (usually based on a hunch).

When assessing business opportunities, it’s important that your solution actually works (also known as problem-solution fit) and that it is not only clear to you, but to your customers, as well, how different you are from the competition.

If I was to tell you that I’m building a chat app, what would your immediate reaction be? I doubt it would be: “That’s a great idea! I do want a convenient way to connect with the people in my life!”

Why? Because that convenience already exists. People aren’t just looking for a solution. They’re looking for a better solution (if they even think they have a problem in the first place).

So, if I’m working on a chat app, one major issue I would need to address is: How is it different to WhatsApp (an existing solution)?

Problems within existing solutions are a goldmine for creativity and opportunity.

3) Focusing on features, not feelings

This mistake hurts my feelings.

If you want to design great products, you need to know what users are feeling at each step of the way, and ensuring that the forward push to continue using your app is stronger than the desire to pull away (because they’re feeling confused, overwhelmed, frustrated, etc).

Each emotion needs to be addressed differently, and there are strategies to crafting great user experiences, no matter where your users are and where they want to be.

Haider is currently delivering a UX design workshop in Kuwait. The five-day (paid) workshop that has started day before yesterday goes into the details into the details that make or break apps. You can learn more about the workshop and buy access here.

Haider Al-Mosawi

Haider Al-Mosawi

Co-founder at Sirdab Lab
Co-founder of Sirdab Lab, a startup hub in Kuwait that offers training courses and programs to support entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses. He's also the co-founder of Catalyze Co, a UX design firm. You can connect with him on Twitter.
Haider Al-Mosawi

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