The UX Driven Startup - Notes from Alexa Andrejewski's Web Visions Presentation

The UX Driven Startup
Alexa Andrejewski
User Experience Designer, Adaptive Path
Founder Foodspotting http://www.foodspotting.com 
  • Slides available here 
  • Woke up one morning with a great idea
  • Why are we always rating restaurants, why not rate individual dishes?
  • How can people learn about the foods around the world.
  • “Yelp for dishes”
  • At Adaptive Path, would help companies figure out what to build before they build it. Figure out their experience strategy. Interaction design: flow of the product.
  • The only problem was....Couldn’t actual code anything.
  • Ended up spending 6 long months looking for a cofounder. 
    • Everyone she knew was a experience designer, didn’t know any developers.
    • Critical thing: get out of your immediate social group.
  • But these 6 months gave a chance to refine, communicate, and validate vision.
  • Ate out a lot, carried a notebook everywhere. Asked people what they liked about their food, and how they would rate it, and what they would say about it.
  • But the time she did find a cofounder, the product had evolved a lot. It started looking like Yelp, but what resonated with people was the visual aspects: the photos of the food. 
  • When I did find a cofounder, we could hit the ground running.
    • The cofounder was a Ruby on Rails developer. Didn’t have iPhone skills, but hired that out originally.
  • What is the experience you want to create?
  • The UX driven startup: Focus on the experience you want to create and let everything else support that.
       /  Experience \
      /     Business    \
     /       Product      \
    /     Technology     \
    --------------------------
  • Avoid common mistakes startups make
    • Building something people don’t really want or need.
      • example: Segway “It will change cities and create a new world”
      • reality: it’s just novelty seeking tourists who use it. it doesn’t fit into people’s existing experiences.
      • A UX Vision validates the experience and its fit
    • Thinking Too Small
      • Investors ask questions like: How does this get Big? What does success look like? What’s your world domination plan?
      • They want to hear about what you want to big ultimately. If you just focus on what you can build tomorrow, that’s not a big enough vision.
    • Moving Too Slowly
      • Arguments of “this is the best design” , “no this one is” causes things to slow down.
      • Vision: A concrete representation of where your product is headed. Can be words, images, or prototype. But it should be tangible.
      • Having that gives you something to orient your path around, so that the decisions can go faster.
  • Tools
    • Coming up with a vision
    • Communicate your vision
    • Validate your vision
  • Coming up with your vision
    • Originally was considering a book.
    • Contextual Interviews
      • “Tell me about some of the highs and lows for your restaurant.”
      • Yields understanding of pain points and opportunities you may not have considered.
      • Ingredients: 10 people, 10 questions, notebook & pen
      • How
        • Meet people in context
        • Ask open ended questions
        • Use cues in environment
        • Use discussion aids if you can.
      • Examples:
        • “draw me a timeline of your restaurant. what were some of the highs and lows of your experience. now tell me about those highs... tell me about those lows.”
    • Make Believe
      • Yields
        • an outpouring of fresh ideas
        • New ways to frame a problem
        • A chance to taste whether an interaction feels natural in real life
      • Ingredients:
        • props, a friend, the real world
        • example: Palm Pilot designer carried a block of wood around and considered what it would be like to use.
      • How
        • Act out some ways you’d use your product, using props to inspire and test ideas.
        • Get out and enjoy everyday activities. --> makes it easier to interact with the product idea, rather than sitting in a room.
    • Metaphor Brainstorming
      • Yields: 
        • Interesting properties extracted from the metaphors
        • Fresh ideas and perspective
      • Ingredients
        • Core concepts on big stickies
        • Lots of small sticky notes
      • How
        • Think about each concept in isoltation
        • Write down whatever comes to mind
        • Deconstruct the metaphor: what characteristcs are interesting?
        • Use the characteristics to get ideas?
      • Example:
        • For foodspotting, uses stamp collecting and coin collecting as metaphors for collecting, and the characteristics of stamp and coin collecting that are unique
    • Artifact From the Future
      • A concrete representation of where your product is headed. Something you can rally around.
      • How
        • Imagine the TechCrunch blog post in the future written about your product.
        • Imagine the future splash page
  • Communicating your vision
    • Experience Principles
      • Yields: Concise, memorable guidelines that inspire ideas, gives you a basis for decision-making.
      • How: 
        • Brainstorm characteristics you want your product to embody
        • Choose the ones that are unique to your product.
      • Example:
        • Foodspotting only talks about good food, not the bad food.
        • Foodspotting lets you give a blue ribbon, not rate food.
        • Foodspotting believes great food can come from anywhere, and we should celebrate it, not just from big cities.
    • Experience Poster
      • Yield: a pocket sized visual summary of what using your product could be like. Something you can use to sell your vision and vett your ideas.
      • Ingredients:
        • an elevator pitch
        • descriptions of benefits
        • principles, characteristics, and metaphors
      • How
        • Describe the benefits of your product
        • Illustrate those benefits - capture the experience, not the interface.
        • Thing about Nine Problems Your Product Sells: Just use stick figures to illustrate it.
    • Pitch Kit
      • Yields:
        • a meaningful name
        • a one setence ocktail party pitch
        • a vision statement
        • an “ah ha” reaction.
      • How
        • A few social events to practice at
        • A few well known companies you can relate yours to (optional)
        • Practice your answers to these question until you can get people to say “ah ha!” in a minute or less.
        • Also, what is your bigger goal? e.g. Google is about organizing the world’s information, Facebook is about enabling people to build their social relationships.
  • Validating Your Vision
    • Prototyping
      • Yields: a tool you can use to guerilla test your product where you go. Used: InDesign.
      • Ingredients: cardstock or index cards or imagemaps + webkit
      • How
        • Create a lightweight, smoke and mirrors prototype of your product
        • Pull it out and ask people how and why they’d use it.
      • Example:
        • Drew up five different rating systems, from stars to numbers to blue ribbon: and asked people how they would use it, and respond to it, and what it meant to them.
    • Design The Future Homepage
      • yields: 
        • a concise summary of your product’s benefits in typical homepage form
        • A way to test interest in your product
      • ingredients: 
        • blank paper and model homepage
        • or typical homepage template
      • instructions
        • sketch the homepage of the future - include name, taglione, top benefits, glimpse into data
        • show people andask “how would you use this and why?”
      • KISS insights: a tool that allows you to ask people a question about any webpage.
      • Throw a page up on the web, with an email signup to determine interest.
    • I Love this product because...
      • yields
        • perspective
        • a reminder of what it’s all about
      • ingredients
        • Write “I love this product because...” up on a whiteboard.
      • how
        • finish this sentence as if your mom or end user were saying it
        • show people your vision and ask them how they’d finish
  • Reaching Your Vision
    • Building a cupcake and build to a cake over time. Don’t build an unfrosted cake and give it to your friend.
      • Another way of saying it: Build half a product, not a half-assed product.
      • Once you have the big vision, step back and ask what is the cupcake version of that vision.
      • Pick a few most essential features, and ensure that they work really.
  • Design principles should drive ideas. If the principle doesn't drive ideas (.e.g "simple and easy to use"), then it's not a useful principle. Everyone wants their site to be easy to use. Also, the principles should be unique to your product.

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