If you want to find the most innovative UX practitioners, watch the startups. Startups are startup companies, newly-formed businesses made up of small teams moving extremely quickly to take advantage of an opportunity they see in the market.
Many of the innovative ways I’m seeing of gathering feedback, testing designs, rapidly evaluating customer satisfaction, and measuring customer engagement are coming straight from startups who are focused squarely on finding out what works best.
Startups are able to do this for several reasons:
- Startups are Process Agnostic
They don’t have the process baggage that big companies have. They don’t have the “we’ve always done it that way” excuse you hear so often. They don’t have established corporate hierarchies to uphold. They’re simply trying to find out what works and what doesn’t. It is remarkable how quickly this attitude changes as companies grow in size.
- Startups are Data-driven
Startups often have investors who force them to be data-driven. As one entrepreneur said to me the other day “Having metrics for our product makes it so much easier to talk to investors because they can quickly tell how healthy our company is and point out where to focus our design efforts”.
- Startups use New Tools
Startups try new things more than most. They use newer tools and techniques like user testing services (e.g. usertesting.com), remote user testing, A/B testing, and other techniques that not everyone has embraced yet.
- Startups Iterate Extremely Fast
Startups often work fast enough to release code daily or even faster. This is a tremendous advantage over teams who have to create a new project and get permission every time they want to do something. You can learn so much faster by releasing something quickly and knowing you can take it down just as quickly.
The one lesson that any seasoned UX practitioner will tell you is that each design project is different, with its own challenges. There is no process that guarantees success. That’s why startups, who continually try new things and iterate as fast as possible, tend to stumble on the right UX before others do. Sure, they have lots of other problems to deal with, like creating a healthy business, but paying attention to startups can offer insights you won’t find anywhere else.