Designers think visually. This might be completely different from the rest of your startup team, so it will give your team a greater perspective and round out your thinking.
A great designer will have the innate ability to know what people will respond to. They can take your product and craft it in a way to get it in front of users and get the response you need. Whether you need more users or more engagement – design can help you with that.
A great designer will take into consideration the end user and tailor designs that will work. Since people typically have short attention spans, you usually have only ten seconds to capture their imaginations and show your values. You will usually get a greater response from videos and photos than words. Great design will reflect this understanding of the end user.
Great Design for Startups
Design in my opinion is one of the easiest ways to differentiate yourself from other brands and companies. I look at design as the layer between your product and the end user. For consumer facing products, consumers are drawn to the packaging, how the product looks and feels. There is the perception factor – how will others perceive it, is it hip or not? Your product has to function, yet it is the design that will do most of the selling for you.
For businesses this is less of a concern, although there is a big trend of turning enterprise-level software into something sleek and simple to use.
It is essential to start off with a good product – but design can move the product forward in spades.
Designers can make your product:
- Easy to use
- Spread virally
- More manageable (from the backend)
Great design works well with all aspects of the product and touches all areas of the business. When I’m designing I think far out – how will this design work with future releases, new product launches and sales materials? Taking a holistic view on the greater business goals helps me design something lasting. I try to come up with a few key concepts that we will be able to keep on adding to. For example, on the first launch of the product maybe only one feature with the concept will be released, but on version 3 or 4 more aspects of the concept will be rolled out.
I like any design to look and feel sleek. When a user looks at any area of the design, there should be a comprehensive understanding of how the product works and a design language that works throughout the product.
This is an area I spend a lot of time thinking about. Every time I design a product, I go through rounds of cutting features and design elements until I have a design that is super easy for users. Creating simplicity is difficult, and choosing what element is the most important usually takes several design rounds and a lot of testing. However, this is an area that is exceedingly important, and the easier you make your product to use, the more users will stay and engage with your product. Engagement is key. In a recent survey, 63% of mobile decision makers cited customer engagement as a top priority.
When I design a product, I think about what aspect of this product would make people want to share it. If there is something shareable about the product, I make it more obvious. If there is nothing shareable about it, I add something in. Either by adding something fun on the marketing side or by re-engineering the product to make it more catchy.
A great designer will consider the design’s ramifications on the administration of the product. Any feature that needs management must be thought out in terms of how the design will affect the admin. The designer can make your entire product more manageable from the user’s end.
… And let’s not forget about branding. When your product launches, you want to get it into people’s minds. You need them to remember your name and talk to others about you. A great designer can design just the right icon that will stick in the minds of users once they see it. Designing the one icon that will be recognizable and that will work on all marketing materials in the future is worth spending a considerable amount of time on.
So how to you go about finding the right designer to collaborate with?
Most importantly, look for a designer who is a strategic thinker and can communicate well. Being creative is awesome, but a great designer will be able to capture that creativity and apply it in a practical way.
Communication – although it’s hard to find I encourage designers to learn how to program, as this will aid their communication with the dev teams. It will also them design products that are actually practical to build.