The ugly flaw of design at startups
There is a huge misconception of design at startups. Design is not the deciding factor for a successful startup. It is easy to look at successful companies like Twitter and Apple and rationalize that their beauty and brand led to success. You are just looking at an end result. You cannot emulate an end result.
If you are optimizing for brand and user experience at your startup, take a step back, understand what kind of startup you are and test whether you are creating customer value first. The existing design mentality of emotional optimization is an artifact of working with established companies with proven models.
In established companies, the problem is given.
They refine their brand and UX to create the emotional connection needed to differentiate from competitors offering similar value. It is a marketing strategy to optimize because they have proven their business model and value to customers.
In a startup, the problem must be challenged and explored.
If you have a great brand and UX, customers will want to love you. But when they realize you don’t solve their needs and don’t fit into their lifestyle, you drop off and gather dust like the pretty souvenir they bought abroad.
Design at a startup is not just about optimizing brand or user experience. Design is an encompassing mentality of questioning the given, uncovering true problems, and making informed decisions. The fundamental aspect of design at a startup is to realize and validate the true function of your startup. Then, form follows function.
Thanks to David Cole, Seth Godin, and Alex Payne for helping me crystallize these thoughts.
Stay updated on my next post, where I delve deeper into this topic.