B2B Startups can avoid common user experience (UX) mistakes. Here are 3 tips to start incorporating user-centered design at your company today.

How to Win With UX: 3 Tips for B2B Startups

April 26, 2017

Tip 1: Sell to the purchaser, but design the experience for the user.

You probably know a lot about the purchasers of your product or service. Since they’re the ones writing the check and most accessible to B2B product teams through sales relationships, it’s easy to fall into the trap of designing the product experience around them.

But if you base product design decisions solely on information from the purchasing customer, you’ll miss the boat from a UX perspective. Ultimately, your product must meet expectations of the end users, who may be employees—or even customers—of the purchaser. You need to know what motivates the end users, how they approach their jobs and what they expect from your software.

So how do you design for users? Half the battle is reminding the product team, sales team, and CEO of who the primary end users actually are. Start by clearly defining the different user types along with their goals and tasks regarding the product. It doesn’t take much time to develop brief UX personas that you can post on walls and whiteboards to keep team members focused on the users. Keep your team disciplined, strategic, and focused on your minimum viable product (MVP) by filtering feature requests from customers through the end user’s lens.

Tip 2: Get input from end users early and often.

Here’s a fact: It is always going to be uncomfortable to show unfinished and unpolished design concepts to users. Another fact: Getting low-fidelity design ideas in front of users for their feedback is the fastest track to solid UX for an on-target MVP.

Users generally understand the difference between a design concept and a final product. Many are even eager to be involved in the process, appreciate the opportunity to express their goals,  and know that it will ultimately benefit them.

These user insights are invaluable to ensure you’re building the right solution in the right way, which will increase adoption. Early stage user research is difficult for some founders and other executives, because it can feel like admitting they don’t know everything or aren’t the experts. Those who can swallow their pride and commit to listening to users early and often make faster progress and gain traction sooner.

So how do you get user input? Structured discovery conversations will yield critical UX insights that can help you iterate and refine your product BEFORE you make the investment in building it.

It is usually more productive to delegate user research. As a founder who is wholly invested in a business, it’s nearly impossible to keep from jumping in and telling the users how it should work or what you want them to be able to do. The insights you need to make improvements will come from someone who can step back and observe and listen to prospective customers.

To get started, write a script with some questions about how users do their jobs, the environment they work in, what tools they’re currently using, and some key tasks you’d like them to be able to do with your product. Then, enlist a friend or colleague to talk to 6-8 of the same kind of prospective users.

Tip 3: Prototype and test the UX before beginning development.

It’s faster and less expensive to iterate your product’s early-stage UX design in a light-weight design prototype than in code. In a competitive landscape where even business users have expectations about usability and modern aesthetics, the time and expense of development re-work are a barrier to creating a winning user experience.

Use prototypes to test your ideas. There are a variety of tools on the market you can use to develop low-fidelity interactive prototypes. A prototype can include key features, such as navigation and key workflows, to use for testing.

Building prototypes in low-fidelity is important; you want users to focus on functionality, not get distracted by colors or graphics. What you need to know is whether they understand the content and how it works.

Prototypes don’t need to be pretty or perfect. As soon as you explain to a user that you’re in the early stages of exploring new features and functionality and that you just want their opinions, they’ll get it.

Bonus Tip: Get help with UX research and design.

Useagility works with companies of all sizes to uncover innovations at the intersection of user needs and business results. Contact us to find out how we can help you get the user insights you need to make your business boom.