Wireframes, site maps, flow diagrams, mockups, etc are all traditional documents that many people expect to receive from UX-ers in quantity while usually maintaining a high quality on aesthetics; however within startups, user experience practitioners need to be a-part of the team making the actual product and getting out of the deliverable’s business. Process and strategic planning is nice, but startups need to move at an uncanny pace and maintaining extra lean to get the product out into the market. Below are 8 quick steps that your startup can incorporate today:
1. Keep a firm product vision
Going through constant iteration, gathering all that user feedback and analyzing metrics can quickly through anyone off their game, however you have to always keep the end users in mind while making sure your team doesn’t lose focus from the essence of the idea.
2. Be flexible
Keeping a strong product vision doesn’t translate to not taking in advice and budging; It just means you need to know what’s vital versus what can be changed, removed or saved for later. Clearly communicating trade-offs helps with this process, and brings point number three.
3. Collaborate on problem solving
Instead of forcing a solution to implement that was pieced together individually, have the team solve a problem together. This is about giving the entire team a problem statement and having everyone focus around solving that problem together. Doing this results in the team being able to actually build up shared learning and a shared understanding of that solution so when it’s time for them to focus on the actual outcome no one is lost in translation.
4. Sketch in sprints
Instead of focusing on the quality of the deliverable, this idea is really about doing whatever is best and quickest for you (sketching by hand on paper/ whiteboard / or desktop app) to quickly getting the focus back on the experience and not the pretty wireframes. You want to concentrate on low fidelity sketches, so that you rip it up and tear it away if you need to; however, in doing so you still want to make sure that everyone understands the story, and the idea of what each sketch means. This doesn’t mean just create crap line drawings without any context. In doing so, it will help move the ideas along much faster and thus getting to the product much faster.
5. Don’t fall in love with your design
Your initial product or idea with transform pretty damn quick from its initial concept to the first beta launch. Use data to help solve any doubts while iterating but understand that while iterating rapidly this is natural. No one has all the right answers, and the goal is to create a great experience for users — not force what you think they should like.
6. Pair up
This technique is traditionally done for developers, however this also concerns connecting your developer and user experience designer and allowing them to work on solving problems together. Doing this will help them learn to understand each others habits and be able to actually work faster with fewer missteps due to bad interpretations.
7. Create something interactive
Our complex ideas seem to work easily on paper but may not work that well when built. You don’t want to find this out too late. The sooner you discover this issue the better. Make sure not to build something too complex, but rather something quickly to walk through the flows. Be it a power-point presentation, keynote, adobe fireworks or some other quick format — it doesn’t matter as long as it’s quick and serves the point.
8. Test! Test! Test!
Last but definitely not least is that you absolutely must test your ideas (and not just amongst those in the company). You’ll have to beg, barter and kidnap people to join in on testing sessions, but make sure whomever you’re asking to help is part of your target audience. If your mom is the only person around yet has no idea how to post a video to Facebook, you’re approaching the wrong test team. Hopefully the people you grab understand disruptive products, but that shouldn’t be a requirement.