There’s a common misconception in the business world that you have to be a technician in order to be able to launch a stellar software product. That if you can’t code, you run the risk of looking unqualified in the eyes of your potential investors, partners or even employees. But the stories of non-technical founders’ success prove that to successfully launch a software product you don’t have to know how to make software.
A technical business owner’s role is pretty straightforward – you are responsible for the building of the product. But as a non-technical founder, you need to assume a part of Jack of all trades by possessing a wide range of skills. From accounting and managing to business development and marketing. And consider taking on another one – UX Design.
UX Design has been on the rise for quite a while. Today it is tech’s fastest growing field with UX designers being as in demand as software engineers. And we are nowhere even close to its limits.
Earlier this year Adobe reported that 87% of managers consider hiring UX designers as a top priority for their company. The demand is only going to increase. And the reason is simple – like it or not, UX design stands behind all of your digital experiences. It’s the foundation of desktop websites, responsive websites, mobile, apps, wearables, virtual reality, gaming. UX Design is present in everything from sending an email, doing online shopping to installing an app on your laptop.
Naturally, the business took notice of the ever-present role of UX design and adopted a design-centered culture. Design Management Institute and Motiv Strategies, funded by Microsoft, have been studying for ten years companies that made design a fundamental part of their business strategy. Their Design Value Index (DVI) report shows that design-centric companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, Starbucks outperformed the S&P 500 by massive 211%! And the tendency will only continue.
Absolutely, fonts, colors, and pixels are all important to design but the tools that design thinking is using are more than that. The three main values at the core are empathy, collaboration, and experimentation. And they are all united by the same goal – solving a business problem. Design thinking is human-centered. By using an emphatic approach it tries to learn your clients’ problems by really listening and understanding the issue that it needs to solve. But problem-solving is not a task for a single person. It requires collaboration, multiple perspectives, experiences and knowledge sharing. Which all leads to experimentation and creating something tangible that your clients can form an emotional attachment to. Experimentation means testing. What follows is prototyping – the only way of turning an idea into something valuable. Design thinking companies tend to iterate quickly, test out, learn from mistakes, and go back to customers.
In order to successfully implement this mode of thinking, companies have to put design thinking at the core of their business strategy and be open for a change to see the outcome. But the result pays off, design thinking applies to products, services, processes, virtually anything that needs to be approved.
Having realized that UI/UX design is now primarily oriented at helping business advance and business needs design, developing some basic understanding of how UI/UX design works is not a skill to be ignored. And here are some of the basic things you need to know:
The first thing any designer will tell you when asked what you should know about UI and UX design is that it’s not the same thing. UX design is responsible for how the end product feels to a user, how it works and how the user interacts with it. While UI is responsible for its layout and how that product looks.
Jakob Nielsen has been trying to make us understand it for years. It’s expensive not to know and understand the importance of design. When UI design is not clear, it can cost a company lost opportunities and sales. The minute customers deem your product frustrating and hard to follow, they will ditch it. The interface has to be simple and include only the most important. No one has time to click on everything.
Design differentiation is not about using the most popular fonts or creating a compelling logo. It’s all the ways a customer interacts with your product. UX design is here to help you create ease at all stages from implementation to use and finally support. Design has the capacity of making your product unique and giving it a competitive advantage.
The questions UX design is trying to answer are the same as for business – conducting research of the market, interviewing users to find out their needs and issues. UX designers explore different options on their way to resolving a user problem. They conduct in-person tests to observe behavior, define interaction models and user task flows, communicate scenarios and end-to-end experiences and finally develop and maintain wireframes and mockups. In the end to create a product that knows its users and how to find them.
Having realized that business and design share the same DNA, non-technical founders should consider investing in Design Thinking, a skill every entrepreneur needs to master in 2017. As a product owner and an ultimate decision maker, it will help you understand your customers a lot better. Learning the basics of UI/UX design will help you communicate your ideas more efficiently and influence the way your product shapes up. The most valuable thing about UI/UX principles is not that experts effectively implement them, their biggest value is knowing how to communicate its value to non-design and non-technical people.