Tue Oct 12 2010

Fixing your startup means fixing your process

The idea of bringing design in early to the startup process is met with a lot of resistance. Resistance from the founders who still don’t see a reason for it (and then wonder why they fail), from old-school investors who want to see something “working first, pretty later”, from the project managers who don’t understand anything but waterfall. Much like Rome, true change isn’t built in one day. It’ll take people time to catch up. Don’t be one of those people.

Two main concerns came to my attention after going through the replies to my post on Designing Early on this blog, Hacker News and twitter:

1) The engineer vs designer battle, where one says there’s no real product without functionality, and the other that there is no real product without experience. They’re both right. The one main fact is that there is no real product without the right combination of experience and functionality.

2) That there is no real documented formal process to bring in design at an early stage into a startup. We don’t need charts and PDFs to guide you through what you should be doing at one stage or another, however. We might have needed it years ago, when software development was at its infancy. Things have changed, and people get agile these days. If your product isn’t right on day one, make a sharp turn into making it right on day two. If you don’t get this, you don’t get startups - get with the program. The book of the future, on building for the web will be one sentence: re-evaluate daily, inform yourself through users and usage, try new things out, repeat.

Like any real change, it’s scary that things have changed so rapidly. But trust me when I say that you don’t want to be left behind. If you’re building startups in 2010 like you were in 2009, you are already too late. Correct course today.

PS: If you believe your company is a great case of “getting design”, please get in touch by emailing, tweeting or calling me. I want to make a couple of posts highlighting great ideas and great execution. Thanks!