User Experience Design · Minimum Viable Product

Next step - design (UX / UI)?

Kassim Dossa Strategy & Operations Executive: 10+ years’ experience and a reputation for accelerating revenue in competitive markets

August 22nd, 2015

I have been interviewing founders / operators of companies in the seniors housing space as part of my customer development process.  I have refined the feature set enough to get what I believe will be a solid MVP.  The latest feedback from potential customers has been, if you build that, I will pay you / we will implement this solution etc.

Where I am stuck:  the seniors housing space is known for employing mature, techno-phobic staff and I am wary of just building a product vs. spending time on getting the UI / UX correct.

Any suggestions on how to get the UI / UX piece done well?  I have been debating the idea of finding a UX / UI designer and paying them to build the initial clickable mockups so I could sell / get commitments for the initial version of the product.

Has anyone used this approach with success?  

thank you in advance for your help!


Valerie Velimvi Strategist

August 1st, 2017

Sounds like a great approach. If you want to get UX/UI correct and in time, I would reccomend http://turumburum.com/ agency. They completed a couple of projects for me, was very pleased with results

Lawrence Lerner Digitalization and Transformation Coach

August 22nd, 2015

Sounds like a very solid approach. People tend to want to see and have a feeling for the user experience. I've just finished a redesign for a portal that caters to seniors (who are still in the business world) and others.  A good bit of time was spent on targeting the design to the audience.

I can recommend some very solid designers if you ping me offline.

Daniel Turner Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC

August 22nd, 2015

Dude. Dude. You were observing and interviewing the population that might be using your product? You've been DOING some UX. Not entirely, but an important part of it. (Think of what Steve Blank calls "customer development".) As "design" == "solving problems", "UX" == "how it does and why it does it", not "how it looks".

Sorry Lawrence, it's a common misapprehension, but you seem to be thinking UX is just look and feel/visual design. 

I'd recommend reading Erika Hall's "Just Enough Research" (don't worry, it's a slim volume). 

You may not have enough data to go to mockups (which, it seems, will be one step away from coding a product). I don't know how you got your feedback from these potential customers, but I'd caution that putting something in front of people and asking, "do you like this?" or "would you buy this?" is a known vector for bad data. It's like asking people what they watch on TV. They want to make you feel good and they unconsciously give you the answer they think you want. Again, Erika's book.

That is true, that an older, less techy audience may not need or want an app. That's a great insight, and one I've found in research. So maybe you shouldn't be building an app? How about a service? How about something people can call a live person and get answers? Build for the users' needs (and learn what the users' needs are), not for your own, or what's easiest. The last is a recipe for being irrelevant. 

Look and feel is last. User experience (research and empathy) comes before wireframing and waaaay before coding.

Daniel Turner Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC

August 22nd, 2015

Yes, I was going to make the same point as Peter. Observe tasks, and if you have to ask questions, ask open-ended ones (look that up). 

Anil, yes, you can make things quickly. But as I teach my students, every design decision is an hypothesis. And you need to test hypotheses against data. If you're making prototypes, you still have to have a solid understanding of potential users' mental models. How do they think about things? What problems are they trying to solve? How do they already attack them? What are their frustrations?

Peter Baltaxe Consultant, product leader, serial entrepreneur

August 22nd, 2015

I'm going to merge the answers above and say that the next phase is a continuation of the customer discovery process.   Build a very simple wireframe mockup and put it in front of customers and get their feedback. To get the user experience going on the right path, I would NOT ask potential users, if they like it, but rather ask them to try to perform the task at hand and watch how they react to your interface.  This is user testing, similar to what usertesting.com and similar sites do. I would learn from that before hiring someone to make something attractive.  There are lots of great mockup tools that can create paper mockups or interactive mockups on your device.  Balsamiq, proto.io and Anil in this thread mentioned atomic.io.  Good luck.

Anil Krishnashetty Senior Javascript Developer, UX, prototyping, Product Design

August 22nd, 2015

Daniel: I totally agree with you, my answer was only to part of Kassim statement - "finding a UX / UI designer and paying them to build the initial clickable mockups". I should have mentioned in my previous response.

Challenge your feature requirements, how your features bring value to users or business revenue,vimeo.com/31715562

Focus on what outcome you want to bring not just output -daxko.com/blog/2012/10/output-vs-outcome

Daniel Turner Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC

August 22nd, 2015

Thanks for the clarification. 

I should explain that I know people get pressured into "but wherrrre's the elegant design?" or "but do you have code yet?" -- one big undocumented feature of all this process I mentioned is to sort of trick yourself out of all the confirmation bias and sunk costs that naturally occur once you have a wireframe or code. People tend to reify what they have and will sink an entire project rather than throw out what really were their own assumptions.

Jacques Cock Partner at CQRS

August 23rd, 2015

Kassim,

What people say and what people do are very different things. If there is a problem your potential customers have that you can solve that is already a great step in the right direction. 

Finding a paying customer is a very different proposition and then making a product/service that is usable by more than one customer is also very different.

Two solutions to this:

1) You believe in your product/service and you have  done a quick evaluation of the potential in the market (i.e. would serving the targetable market provide you with sufficient margin to support a business). Then invest not only in a product and sales and marketing either by recruiting fellow founders (cheap but harder) or funding the company yourself or through angels

2) Find a trial customer assuming you are networked in your industry.

In all cases you will need to make your offering more tangible and precise as there is a big difference between an idea that would solve a problem (slide or vapour ware) and a working solution that actually can be implemented.

The initial trial software (if you have a good idea of what you want) should be doable for £1,000. But remember most of even good ideas do not make it to profit but you have to start investing time, effort and money to learn and develop something that will work.

If you are not willing to do this it means you yourself do not believe strongly in your idea so why should anyone else invest time and effort in the project or idea?

Deb Zell Customer Experience, UX, Techie

August 24th, 2015

Find a good UX person, especially given the nature of the audience you're working with. A good UX designer will take the time to understand the users by researching their needs to determine what to build, then they will build concepts and test with users for feedback. This should also help guide your interview of your designer - ask them about their design process and their answers should include what I've just mentioned. If you don't use a UX designer, you have a bigger chance of ending up with something unusable/confusing. Ugly is one thing, unusable will leave you dead in the water. Hope that helps.

Sunoh Choe Interaction Designer II at Honeywell

August 24th, 2015

Once again,
As a designer myself, 100% agree with Daniel Turner, user experience and interaction design are way more than applying a nice visual look-and-feel skin.

Having a designer mock a skin up in early stages is good for initial customer feedback and investors but you need to get a UI/UX designer onboard early on at the research, sitemap and wire framing level if you want it done right..