Why a bad UX can kill a startup
For a tech startup, UX is just one of many things that needs to be considered, but when you recognise that a good UX produces two of the most basic results that all startups crave, it's easy to see why this has become such a make or break part of business. Good UX leads to quick conversation and extended customer retention- the main aim of any startup worth its salt.
Startups often face the conundrum of trying to get to grips with product design, but not being able to afford a full time UX designer to develop a seamless, intuitive and user-friendly interface. Cost is a major factor here and for many startups there's a fine line between getting what they need on a UX level, and just passing muster. What many fail to recognise is that the ROI in good UX is worth its weight in gold, and that a positive user experience is imperative if you are trying to scale a product and garner attention.
Compromising on UX is something that startups should try and avoid in every way, and sometimes it's worth sacrificing other things in order to ensure that your UX is world class.
Behind the UX curtain
In the days before software, a designer’s job was simply to make things pretty. However when the Internet came along this changed everything. The UX designer job description originated in Silicon Valley in the 1990's, and it has only really become mainstream in the last decade or so. In a nutshell, UX is the design behind the visual and when it is done well, using any type of software is effortless, but when done badly, it is glaringly obvious.
An experienced UX designer can predict what designs work well, how people use them practically, and where there may be issues in streamlining processes. Human psychology is an intense and complex thing, and design elements can play a huge role in whether or not we like or dislike something.
These days there is a huge difference between a graphic designer and a UX designer, and while graphic designers make things attractive, UX designers make things pretty and ensure that they create the ultimate user experience.
Because of its name, startups often confuse designers and UX designers, as UX gets mistakenly combined with styling. UX is more than just ‘making pretty' it is a problem-solving discipline that identifies issues and solves them by designing elegant solutions. For a startup, this is an essential service as a bad user experience can cost a customer, or in some cases, an entire company.
In the experience of a mobile app development company like Synergo, one of the biggest issues that startups face is that they tend to focus too much on creating a beautiful product, rather than establishing usefulness in its purest form. UI can be used to great effect here too, and a good designer will know that sometimes, simplicity is key.
If you think about buying a product online you don't want to have to hunt for the shopping cart or struggle to make payment. The attractive wrapper that has then enticed you to shop becomes pointless when the reason why you are there in the first place becomes redundant as you struggle to pay for a product. A UX designer would have balanced the beautiful site with one that is functional too and could have saved a startup that put its focus to firmly in beautification.
Many believe that it's exactly this simplicity that gave Facebook the edge over Myspace. The new social media (at the time) was simple to use, and easy to navigate, whereas Myspace had become cluttered and offered an almost overwhelming array of features in a disorganised way. In short, Myspace lacked the good UX design of Facebook, and it cost them dearly.
What makes a good UX?
Good UX really is an art form, and it takes someone experienced to be able to implement it. For those running startups, communicating an idea or product isn't always that easy, as there is no pre-established base to work from. A UX designer's expertise is thus essential here, as they can guide the startup through what works and what doesn't, and explain why some ideas may seem great in principle but in practice, they are less than appealing to end users.
To better understand the impact that UX has, let's take a look at some of the areas and elements that a designer is responsible for:
Colour: the choice of the colour palette is essential for attaining a good UX as it relates directly to the product audience. The correct use of colour psychology can lead to an increase in website conversion, and can drive sales in preferred demographics too.
Font: clutter is a killer for startups. You may be keen to overload on information to sell, but forcing facts is a no-no. The correct font will make essential reading easy and appealing, leaving the reader wanting more.
Voice: good UX is very human, but bad UX cancels out any human element. The adage of ‘if you want to sell something emotionalise it' greatly comes into play here, as most startups are keen to sell and create a connection or emotional tie with the customer. This also leads to customer retention, and if the voice of a site is emotional customers can be won over almost instantly.
Functionality: a site that's hard to navigate is an instant turn off, and when it comes to performance, good UX can ensure a seamless experience. Sites that load slowly due to large images are hard to navigate or seem to be somewhat convoluted in their offering are an instant turn off.
CTA: startups shouldn't assume that their message is clear. The Call to Action should be direct, and if register or sign up or sign in buttons are used, they must feature prominently, and be obvious as to their purpose. Some people may not differentiate between the register and sign up buttons, so the intention and action should be clear.
A critical component for success
Startups rely on getting the word out, attracting an audience, creating a connection and customer retention. Bad UX can put users off in a very short period of time, and even if the software or product is phenomenal in other ways, the first impression will last. Sadly, so many startups have not noticed the correlation between bad UX and a drop in traffic or custom, and once noticed, it has been too late.
If you're on a budget and want to reduce costs, rather avoid looking at UX as something that you can reduce or cut back on, as customer experience is the key to sales and retention. If you save on UX initially, it may end up costing you in the long run and often fixing bad UX leads to greater issues and inflated costs. A good UX designer like Synergo can launch your startup and keep it afloat, whereas poor UX can cause it to sink without ever having had a chance.
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