User Experience Techniques for Building a Great Startup

Building a solid user interface is not an easy task. When you start discussing UI design for the web vs mobile we are bringing in even more complexity. But ultimately there are some core user experience techniques which will work in almost any setup.

For this article I would like to look deeper into the startup territory. I want to point out a few trends in new Internet launches and startups which are taking the web by storm. These websites not only provide real services, but their design is impeccable and very easy to handle. When striving to push the envelope you want to break into the tech startup space. These are some of the most innovative and creative digital professionals you’ll find anywhere in the world!

Scale Resources for Your Needs

I like discussing needs as a primary solution because each startup is uniquely different in their own way. The company atmosphere and culture will always differ based on the product, environment, and how teammates interact with each other. I would say there is a lot to learn when looking into fast-paced startups like Foursquare.

But one of my favorite examples in this realm Instagram has seen tremendous growth since their initial launch just a few years back. The service was produced as an iPhone-only camera app which then ported onto Android and was eventually sold to Facebook. Currently the team still releases updates, but the network itself has changed quite a bit.

Instagram mobile iPhone app download homepage layout

Up until recently Instagram didn’t even offer web profiles, which seems like a very commonplace template to keep in your app. But since Instagram scaled so quickly the developers did not have time to get something like that working. This methodology of solving problems at your startup will alleviate a lot of the burden from your mind.

Tackle problems one at a time and figure out how you’re solving things for a better user experience. Figure out how you, the creator, would want to be interacting with your website. There is always at least two ways to do something, and generally one of them will be better than the other. And don’t be afraid of screwing up the first time because you’ll always have more chances!

Use Glossy Presentations

Another technique I have seen a lot is presenting fancy dynamic webpage animations. Lots of startups will create a unique layout explaining their services through a mini tutorial, video, image slideshow, etc.

Treehouse Team blog design learning web development

One great example Treehouse offers educational materials for web & mobile developers. Anybody aspiring to learn how to build web applications or mobile apps can join the Treehouse community and follow along with their handy tutorials. The entire homepage is dedicated to explaining why their system works and how people can learn so quickly.

I also feel that when creating such a unique webpage you have to continue with a similar formatting and branding all throughout. This can be seen on their Treehouse Blog which sports a very different layout. But the most important links and resources are readily available to anybody who’s looking.

Expanding on your Services

I have been to a lot of websites where the product or service wasn’t even explained. Just a plain minimalist homepage, maybe an e-mail signup form but very few details. This isn’t relatable to anybody and will surely be the killer of any new startup idea.

You need to expand on your ideas and explain what you can offer to potential users. I like to use the example of Flow App which offers a free trial to anybody who signs up for a new account. You can use their cloud to-do service for totally free under a trial period and give everything a test-run. The experience is easy to follow and great for newcomers.

Get FlowApp todo management tasks iOS device

The point is that it would be difficult to get lost when visiting their website. You can quickly determine what Flow does, what their product offers, and even get a free taste of what it can do. This is one startup idea which has been implemented brilliantly and leaves the user begging for more.

Focus on Primary Content

No matter what you are presenting to your audience, make sure that is the central point. Keep your visitors focused on the interesting stuff and they are less likely to drift off into something else, or leave your website entirely. This of course assumes you are offering something which will catch people’s attention.

Here is where you’ll need to spend some free time brainstorming marketing ideas. Figure out how you could present your content in a unique, elegant manner. I happen to be a huge fan of DZone which is an online social news community for programmers. Their homepage is a bit crowded, but not unusable at all.

Dzone software development programming links social news

In fact you should quickly notice that the point of their website is the links. Hundreds of thousands of people click their frontpage links every day and check out these popular articles. Clearly their service fills a niche among software programmers and web developers who need to share handy resources.

The links are easy to skim and new content is loaded right into the page via Ajax. There has been plenty of work to ensure the layout is clean, usable, and most importantly enticing. It’s also super easy for new users to register and get started voting and submitting their own articles. The metrics for new signups and traction is what will help determine your startup’s overall success or ultimate demise.

Design Showcase

Along with my ideas above I want to offer a large set of inspiration for upcoming startups. I have gone through some of the online directories and pulled 40 examples of brilliant startups, mobile apps, and new product launches.

Check out this mini showcase and see if you can put together any other ideas for a brilliant user experience. I have found that newer companies in the startup space have more ambitious goals about accomplishing their work with serious gratification. I am sure this collection will also offer inspiration to freelancers who are interested in launching their own startup online.


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