UX for Startups – Designing for Optimization

UX for startups: Has anyone really taken the time to talk about this as its own unique subject? The basic tenets of UX are a good starting place for startups, but, at the same time, they’re a bit broad and encompassing, and many of the rules of thumb are for companies which are decidedly more established. Now, this is not to say that the basic UX principles don’t still ring true, because they most definitely do. However, with startups, there’s more to consider, which brings about an alteration mostly to the rules of what you may or may not want to do by way of complexity and approach with UX for startups. The principles remain intact, just some of the parameters need to be a bit more specific and, yes, limiting.

So, if you would indulge me, let’s talk about this for a minute. I hope this will make the UX issue a bit less of a quest for startups, because where they stand, with most UX literature, they’re kind of being thrown into the fray with little preparation and little guidance that works particularly well for their position.


First, let’s consider all of the factors involved with startups. They lack some things established companies have, mainly identity, history and experience. This limits, realistically, the approaches your software can take, starting out. You lack the pedigree to really charge for complex software nobody’s heard of. So, this means that you need to go for a simplicity that is attention grabbing.

More likely than not, you’ll be competing with existing software within the niche, unless your idea is absolutely unique and new. It’s okay to try your hand at an existing idea though, and either way, it boils down to this – your UX design must be effective, simple and minimalist.

As a result, there are some tenets from mobile UX that actually fit nicely into startup UX theory. For example, keeping a simple, color contrast-driven aesthetic to your UI, with clearly defined layouts and controls is very important. Unlike in mobile, where this is to work with varying but constantly limited screen real estate, in this case, it’s about the tasteful, undemanding simplicity giving it an adoptability that more complex software does not have. Alternatively, it allows for more reception to novel new niches as well. Software that does something completely new and unique is expected to be prohibitively complex and have a steep learning curve, being totally new and exotic.

Like with mobile, thwart this with the following mantra – K.I.S.S., or keep it simple, stupid. While abrasive, this is a phrase uttered as a mantra by many designers with years of experience, so learn it now, and hold it close to your heart.

So, in a nutshell, simplicity, similar to mobile UX principles, is the best thing to go with as a startup. While you needn’t obsess over page-based window layouts if you’re not actually going for mobile, the simple elegance and logical minimalist layout is something to strive for starting out. Again, you lack the pedigree to be over-engineered and complex, as well as expensive. So be affordable, and be the one that’s easy to use. This is a huge selling point for UX for startups.