Startup design

There is no clear description of what startup design is. Before you leave, let me explain…

Design is a word that has a lot of baggage attached to it and that is why there is no clear description on what design for a startup actually entails.

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Steve Jobs

For most people startup design is primarily visual or UI design. It’s what a product or screen looks like. The colors, the fonts, the whitespace and all the elements that create an aesthetically pleasing and attractive visual interface. If you’re looking for a conceptual visual or interactive prototype of your idea, I can help, but that is not what startup design is.

If we go one step deeper than the designed visuals we go into the interaction and user experience of what the screen visual is aiming to accomplish and the flow the user goes through before or after they see the screen.

I am a visual designer – I can design every aspect of your idea or vision in static mockups to give you a tool to talk to, pitch and work towards. I would not recommend giving static mockups to your engineering team. It will not turn out well.

I am a UI designer – I can design the user flows, the interface your customers will interact with and create animated prototypes based on you and your users feedback.

I am a UX designer – UX is not UI. The two are different but not mutually exclusive. Yes, It’s confusing. UX is the broader term given to design of the WHOLE experience from first interaction to the last. UI design is very much part of that but requires a focused lens to work through the detail. UX can be applied to many aspects of your business.

I am a product designer – Product design is a fairly new title. It a meld of a UX designer and a Product Manager. It encompasses both skillsets but with a slight focus on design as a background methodology rather than a technology or business background. A product designer uses the design methodology no matter what area of you business needs a problem solving.

Visual design and UX design are a very important part of building a startup but not the only areas design should be applied. Design as a discipline must be used to approach every aspect of your business.

I’ve been working with startups for 20 years. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to approach or process. Design is not a finished artefact or output. Design is a thinking methodology. It is a way to solve any problem.

Good design is good business.

Retired IBM CEO, Thomas Watson