5 things startups should consider before designing the user experience for their products

Designing a great user experience is crucial to the success of any product. Unfortunately many startups especially the ones in MENA don’t really take it into consideration. To be able to design a user experience, there are some basic things that you would always need to consider that’s not really difficult to do. As the Founder & UX Director of Simpleia UX Consultancy, over the years I have helped many startups MENA and beyond, and most of the times, we witnessed some very common mistakes that are repeated by many founders. Here’s a list of five of the most common pieces of advice we have to offer that you should consider before working on your next startup.

1) Value Proposition

So first things first. What’s the pain that your product is solving for its users. What is it that the users may not be able to accomplish without using your product. Or how is it helping them save time or effort in achieving something specific. To put it in simple words, you should have a clear idea of the value proposition your product will offer

No one uses Uber because it has a fancy user interface or Twitter because of it’s cute little bird. We use products for their value position. So before you even think about starting a product, you should figure out what’s the value proposition it’s proposing. Strategyzer’s Value Proposition Canvas should be a good start.

2) Target Audience

It is one of those areas where many startups fail and fail hard. More often than not I have come across founders who tell you that they’re building a global product and everyone in the world will be using it. Then there are those who tell you that they’re building a product because they’ve faced ‘XYZ problem’ and their product/solution will address it, without making sure there’s a real need in the market and it’s not only a personal need or a special case. Sometimes this assumption leads them to build a great product but then they end up being the only user of this ‘great’ product.

As a UX Consultant, I always advise my clients to target a specific segment and focus on it. Some argue that Facebook targets just everyone in the world but even they didn’t start it this way. Facebook in fact was very specific about this initially, targeting students inside one university only.

So targeting bigger segment of users or the whole world doesn’t mean actually getting all the users in the world, in fact, the more you narrow down the targeting the better you address these users’ segments needs resulting in acquiring more number of users in total.

3) Research

Another very big problem that I face as a UX Consultant is my clients assuming that they know all the answers and that they don’t need to conduct any sort of research before they build the product. Plain wrong. Yes, you could be right about these assumptions but the chances of you being wrong about them in most of the cases are higher.

And user research is not rocket science. Yes, there might be some user research projects that are way too big and complicated. For example, we at Simpleia, were once approached by a global ride-sharing brand even though it was planned for only one user rule the drivers and in only one county, the planned time frame of this user research project was 3 months.

But you don’t need to start with that kind of research. For many startups that I have consulted on about their products, all it took me was one week to complete the whole thing. What you need to do is figure out the main topics you would like to research and conduct five user interviews (with different types of people within the targeted user segmentation) for 15-20 minutes with each one of them.

Once done, highlight the insights from every interview and work on the personas and user scenarios to keep in front of you and remind yourself that you’re not the targeted persona.

4) Branding

Unfortunately, most of the entrepreneurs in the MENA region take branding lightly. Or think of it as something that should not be priority at initial stages of the startup. That’s wrong. In my honest opinion, branding could be a very important factor in determining success or failure of a startup. Starting with the name of a product.

Remember this excited friend who told you about this new cool app and its features and how it made him more productive and all but just when you were thinking about trying it, he mentioned its name and you brush the thought off. You lost your interest even before you’ve even seen the logo.

One of the biggest challenges we face here at Simpleia is clients approaching us with cool products but have already developed brands which don’t help and affect the user acquisitions as it’s the first touch point between a user and the product.

So, don’t design a brand before you conduct user research. And more importantly don’t just go for a brand name because you personally like it. What matters is if the targeted users recognize it, remember it and hopefully in time be loyal and emotionally attached to it.

5) User Behavior Tracking

This is something you obviously cannot do without having an actual product. But start it right after you launch even a private beta. You need to track what the users are doing on your web or mobile apps, what flows do they move through, what features do they use most of the time and in what patterns, and more importantly what gaps do you have in your funnel.

Even a simple tool like Google Analytics could provide you tons of data to help you learn more about your users and pivot your product accordingly.

If there is something else that you follow before designing the user experience for your products, I would love to know. Share your thoughts in comments on the social media channels of MENAbytes or reach out to me using the contact information below.

Abdelrahman Osama
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