When do you optimize your User Experience and when does it take a lower priority? Contrary to popular belief, User Experience will not solve all your product problems. The key is to understand the context under which your product operates.
Part 1. What kind of startup are you?
There are 4 kinds of startups I have identified. Vitamins, Painkillers, Addictive Drugs, and Extinct (I don’t have a name for this 4th one, but it might as well be extinct).
You can easily identify which category you’re in by understanding the depth and frequency of the problem you’re trying to solve.
Which quadrant do you fall in?
Most startups fall in the vitamin quadrant. This means, you are solving a problem that is not very painful, but frequently encountered. Since there are many players in this space, you need to strategically enhance the experience of your product in order to compete in the crowded marketplace. Sometimes you’ll find that in this saturated environment, most customers are already content and occupied with the existing options in the market. In this case, even a great UX may not be enough.
Addictive drug. This is where you want to be. They cannot get enough of you. Most users have this problem so badly and frequently that they are finding workarounds to solve it themselves. Their current workarounds are so broken, cumbersome, long, tedious, and inefficient that your product will streamline their experience and they will be forever grateful. They exclaim, “How did I live without this thing?!” because they’re so elated with any solution that is better than their workaround. They will be highly active on your product even if it doesn’t have a great initial UX. If you trip up, they will be frustrated, but forgiving. Although, be strategic about your UX moving forward, as other competitors creep in.
Painkillers. High pain, low frequency. Many entrepreneurs have ideas that fall in this space. It usually happens when they’re in the midst of tossing around various startup ideas, and suddenly encounter a huge, frustrating problem. For example, their car gets towed while they were at some tech Meetup about mobile apps. “Argh! Why is there not a fix for this??” they ask. So, they decide to jump in and solve it with an app. Does UX matter here? It depends - are you here to build a sustainable business? Or are you happy building a one-time use solution? If you’re looking to build a scalable business, you don’t want to be here either. If the latter, sure, save users the torture by making it dead simple to use, but, it won’t get much use.
Extinct. So…what problem are you trying to solve?
This is Part 1. My next article will walk through examples of how you can design UX tailored for these different contexts. Sign up to stay tuned.