Why startup needs design partner from day one

Why startup needs design partner from day one.

This article is based on my personal learnings and experience of working with upcoming startups or existing ones.

I believe design balances aesthetics and reasons

First and foremost, I see design as solving problems in the most elegant way. To me design has a outer shell as well as inside core of strategy, but if you don’t gat basics right everything els is secondary. I believe design balances aesthetics and reasons. That is what makes design simple and elegant. 

Startups often don’t see value in investing in design, particularly early on

So why startups need design help? In my experience they often don’t see value in investing in design, particularly early on. There’s been a culture of technology first, whereas I believe we should be taking a more people-centred approach to building products and services. Unless the thing you’re building has real value to someone, it’s just a vanity project, no matter the technology. 

Customers that have a positive experience tend to spend more, more often and tell their friends (This is what any startup needs.).

It’s been proven that there’s a direct correlation between a well-designed product and loyalty. Customers that have a positive experience tend to spend more, more often and tell their friends (This is what any startup needs). I see design as a direct route to free marketing through the positive word of mouth it helps to generate. People are now more savvy than they were even 5 years ago and so won’t put up with a poorly designed product or service if there’s a better alternative. In most circumstances a customer’s experience with your product or service is the main contact with your brand so it’s key to really work at this. If this creates a negative emotion, they’ll more than likely never come back.

Good design isn’t just about aesthetics or function, it’s about the emotional connection we make with the people we’re designing for.

To me good design isn’t just about aesthetics or function, it’s about the emotional connection we make with the people we’re designing for. Startups have an amazing opportunity to build a loyal audience by make their customers happy (particularly early adopters), but too many focus solely on squeezing out the most from them and not giving much in return.

The earlier you can bring in design, the more you can reap the benefits.

Startups should incorporate design more deeply into their culture early on. It needs to come from the top, so it’s about education and awareness. Founders need to believe in the strategic advantage a design-driven approach can give them. The earlier they can bring in design, the more they can reap the benefits. It’s a lot harder to bring in design when a product or service has already been developed. 

I believe the best way to do this is either to have a designer as part of the founding team (The Designer Fund has been set up to invest in designer entrepreneurs as startup with these types of founders tend to have a greater success rate than the average), or to recruit the best freelance designer you can afford to help you shape the product and better understand what your customers want.

Technology can often be copied, design can bring in an emotion which often can’t.

Design as a process can give a better understanding of what people actually want and would pay for, more empathy for their customers and their world, a way for them to communicate their uniqueness through their product or service. Technology can often be copied, design can bring in an emotion which often can’t.

I am always happy to discuss the topic. Please do comment and share your thoughts. 

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