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Laura Klein is a product consultant in Silicon Valley, where she teaches companies how to get to know their users and build products people will love. She blogs about UX, metrics, customer development, and Lean Startup at Users Know.

Her book, UX for Lean Startups (O'Reilly, 2013) is aimed at helping entrepreneurs learn enough research and design to let them validate their ideas. Her new book, Build Better Products (Rosenfeld, 2016) will be a practical workbook to help product managers make their teams stronger and more user centered.

You can follow her on Twitter: @LauraKlein

She will be live on March 29th starting 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which time she will answer as many questions as possible.

  • WB

    Wendy Bravo

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Laura and thanks for doing this AMA. What is your advice for people who want to transition into UX from a different career and are studying UX on their own? How can they show prospective employers not only that they have the knowledge but also the skills necessary to be a junior UX Designer?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Wendy,

      Great question, and one I get a LOT. Sadly, I'm entirely unqualified to answer it, since I'm neither a junior designer nor a hiring manager. You're going to want to ask either
      a) somebody who has very recently gone through this process and succeeded to find out what worked for them and what didn't
      or
      b) somebody who sees a ton of junior design portfolios (you do need one of those) and knows what gets hired

      So, treat it like a design research problem. Recruit a few folks who fit those behavior patterns. You may want to reach out to some design recruiters and ask to talk to them, since they will likely be easier to pin down than the hiring managers. Don't ask them to review your portfolio right off the bat. Keep it easy for them. Ask for a 15 minute call and ask some specific questions about what their hiring/recruiting process is for junior people and what makes one stand out. Also, don't forget to get a mentor who is 2-3 years ahead of you. Everybody needs a mentor that isn't a grizzled 20 year vet like me. You need somebody who can relate to your struggles, because they went through them recently.

      Dig deep and good luck!
      laurak

      3 Share
      • WB

        Wendy Bravo

        over 3 years ago #

        Thank you so much for your ideas, Laura. I love the idea of treating my inquiry as I would a design research project :) BTW, I've heard about Tradecraft and the great job you guys are doing at training UX designers.

  • AK

    Austin Knight

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Laura, thank you for doing this AMA.

    1.) Was there anything in particular that you think helped you get your first book deal? Any advice for a "wannabe" author?

    2.) What was it like working with Eric Reis at IMVU before Lean was a thing? Was there a time where you started to realize you were on to something? Was the formation of Lean a formal progression or did it just kind of happen?

    Really looking forward to your forthcoming book. You actually interviewed @mattrheault and I during the early stages and that's what prompted us to start the UX and Growth Podcast :) We're all big fans of "What Is Wrong with UX?" and we're anticipating your new engineering podcast.

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Austin. Thanks for the questions.

      1. The thing that helped me for the first book deal was having blogged for several years and building up a decent sized audience. I was at a networking event and this nice lady saw my nametag and said, "Oh, I like your blog." It turned out that lady was Sara Milstein who is awesome and did programming for Web 2.0 and later for The Lean Startup Conference. She was instrumental in getting me on stage at things and introducing me to the folks at O'Reilly.

      1b. Advice for a wannabe. Writers always give the shittiest answer to this question. "If you want to be a writer, then write!" they say. Now that that's out of the way, I will acknowledge that you're asking how to be a PUBLISHED author. My first piece of advice is "rethink your terrible life choices." Writing is painful and not particularly lucrative. My second piece of advice is...unfortunately....write. Sorry. Start a blog. Build an audience. Give talks. Then you need to network and find an editor at the place where you want to publish and see if you can talk to them about what they look for in new authors. I've found people in publishing (esp. tech publishing) to be lovely and friendly and helpful.

      2. Eric is super smart and incredibly nice. That was always obvious. He had great ideas. I didn't have anything to do with turning things into "Lean." It was just kind of "the way we worked at IMVU" from what I could see. They were doing all this measurement and analytics stuff when I got there, and I immediately fell in love with it and knew I never wanted to work anywhere that I couldn't do it. The fact that they also liked talking to users was a huge plus.

      Thank you SO much for listening to the podcast. Here it is for others: http://www.usersknow.com/podcast

      I also have an engineering podcast called We Need to Talk about Engineering at http://engsplaining.com/

      I'll have to listen to the UX and Growth Podcast! Sounds right up my alley.

      4 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        over 3 years ago #

        Boom! That's how you start of an AMA :raised_hands:

        A follow-up question on the topic of books. Off late I've been hearing a lot of talk of publishing a (good) book, even if it's self-published, as a "must" growth hack for speaking/consulting engagements, with the book serving as evidence of your expertise.
        Do you think that's all just bull or is there any truth to this from what you're seeing?

      • LK

        Laura Klein

        over 3 years ago #

        This is responding to Anuj, although I can't reply directly.

        I don't think there's any "must" growth hack for anything. And I'd never call writing a book a "hack". You say "even if it's self-published" like that's easier. In many ways, self-publishing is MUCH harder. And don't forget, you have to market the book itself.

        People who successfully market their own books probably get pretty good at growth hacking, but just the writing of it doesn't make you into a growth hacker.

        laurak

      • AK

        Austin Knight

        over 3 years ago #

        Great answers Laura, thank you. Actionable as always :)

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    over 3 years ago #

    Laura!! As a content marketer I couldn't stop laughing when I came across your recent tweet from March 3rd:

    "Editor just told me my book has too many words. DAMN IT I COULD HAVE BEEN DONE WITH THIS MONTHS AGO IF I'D KNOWN I ONLY GOT THAT MANY WORDS."

    I ALWAYS run into this issue!! Any tips for writers on either how to avoid this problem? OR do you have any tips on how to have a successful whittling-down process?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Logan,

      If I knew how to avoid writing too many words, these AMA questions would not be turning into War and Peace. I like seeing myself type.

      HOWEVER, one smart tip would have been to read the contract more closely. The more important tip would have been to pick a much much much much smaller topic. In my most recent book, Build Better Products ( http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/build-better-products/ ) I have written a kind of workbook for PMs and people who make product decisions. It has dozens of design thinking style exercises and advice from lots of amazing experts. If this is sounding like kind of a Big Topic to you, then you're right! I probably could have narrowed it down a bit.

      So, yeah. Pick smaller topics. It's very hard to do a good, concise job on a huge topic.

      thanks,
      laurak

  • KT

    Kyjean Tomboc

    over 3 years ago #

    Yay, thanks to this AMA. Laura, what do you look for in a user researcher's portfolio if you're going to hire one?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Kyjean,

      I don't hire user researchers (or anybody), so I'm uniquely unqualified to answer this question. See the answer to Wendy's question about junior designers. It's equally applicable to any sort of "how do I get hired" question.

      Also, as a note, I'd say that it's especially important for you to make sure that you're talking to the right sort of hiring managers and researchers, since "researcher" can mean such different things at different companies. Everything from "data scientist" to "usability tester" to "QA" to "ethnographer" to "person we say we want but then ignore until they start telling us what we want to hear." Make sure you find the right org and then find out what they are looking for specifically.

      Good luck! The world needs more user researchers in places that listen to them.

      laurak

      • KT

        Kyjean Tomboc

        over 3 years ago #

        Many thanks for this, Laura. Appreciate the reply and this phrase: "person we say we want but then ignore until they start telling us what we want to hear.". :)

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Laura, great to finally have you on for an AMA! I'm curious how you work with companies when consulting. Are you primarily doing UX research to find issues and recommend tests to fix the issues or do you also work with companies to actually implement your test recommendations? It would be great to get some details around how you structure these engagements. Thanks!

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Sean!

      Glad to be here.

      I almost never do UX research for companies any more. I'll do some research with companies or teams with the goal being to help them learn how to do it better. I do a lot of coaching and strategy where I help them figure out what sort of research they should be doing in order to learn what they need to learn. I also do a lot of work with them to synthesize what they learn into useful designs. But you can't hire me to go off and learn about your users for you, because I think that's fundamentally bad for companies to hire an outsider to do this kind of important work and then leave.

      I also have been running some private training workshops for companies in Design Thinking and Lean Startup. This tends to be larger companies who are trying to innovate or become more design-led. These engagements might be a one or two day workshop or a week long Innovation Sprints where teams work on a project, and I lead some workshops and help them quickly validate their ideas. Sometimes there's follow on coaching a few hours a week after those workshops so that teams can stay on track with the methods they learn.

      I'll be doing more of both of these sorts of engagements starting this summer, since my book is getting close to ready and will be published soon (either July or September, depending on the publishing schedule).

      thanks!
      laurak

  • BW

    Brand Winnie

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for being a part of this AMA.

    So I was curious to know what your background is from the beginning. Were you an entrepreneur who built your own products/websites and you were forced to learn about UX or did you learn it through some other method?

    What tools do you recommend for communicating user flows to clients, and why?

    What does the future hold for UX, and how can designers prepare for whats coming?

    P.S. Your book is on my list of things to read! Excited to check it out.

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Brand,

      In order:

      1. My background is bizarre and probably not relevant at this point. I started at a think tank where I was in a group that did ethnography and user research. I then learned to code and became a front end engineer in the late 90s and early 2000s. Then I moved to a design consultancy where I helped with research and prototyping, since I had learned those things, and I eventually learned the middle part between research and prototyping, which is the design stuff. Then I went to IMVU where I learned about metrics. Then I started my own design consultancy where I worked directly with lots of early stage startups to do Lean UX. I did nothing by myself. At every stage I had strong mentors and teachers who helped me learn what I needed to know by giving me chances and giving me feedback and teaching me the right way to do things. I am wildly lucky in that way.

      2. Why would you want to communicate a user flow to a client? I'm not being snarky. It depends on a) who the client is, b) what your purpose is for communicating it, and c) what you want to get out of it. That's true of literally every deliverable you create.

      3. The future for UX...gah. If I could tell the future, I'd have won the lottery already and be sitting on a beach with an umbrella drink and a trashy novel.

      But I will say that designers are going to have to start learning to design systems and multi-modal interfaces. So, for example, we're going to see far more products that don't have a "single screen" interface or even just screens of different sizes. Now we have VR (which has been the Next Big Thing at least three times already, so I have no idea if it will continue, but it's certainly in the immediate future), the IoT (this is here to stay, for good or bad), Wearables, and Voice Interfaces, etc. But not only do we have all those things, we have them all working together - products that need to work across your TV and your tablet or your car and your watch or your phone and your light bulbs (!). These are here, and we are doing a horrific job of designing for cross-platform interfaces like this. We have to get better at it, and that means caring a little bit less about white space and typography and caring a LOT more about experiences and flows.

      Thanks for reading the book! If you wait long enough, you can just read the new one, which is entirely different, so probably read both.

      laurak

  • CM

    Carmelo Mannino

    over 3 years ago #

    Laura,

    What in-app analytic tools are the best for recognizing UX errors and correcting them?

    How do you know if tools like usertesting.com are working or are these tests too biased because users are trying to get paid and rush through an application?

    Thanks!

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hey Carmelo,

      I have so many thoughts about this question...

      1) What sort of UX error? Usability problem? Messaging problem? Useless product? I think, judging by your mention of usertesting.com that what you mean is "usability" but I want to point out that UX and usability, while related, are not interchangeable, and you can have tons of UX problems that aren't usability related. For example, you could have a product that nobody wants or that doesn't fit into the context of your users' lives. Or you could have a bunch of extra features that aren't being used by most of your users. Or you could be failing to onboard people well, which would lead to usability problems later, but is sort of a missing piece of your product. Or you could have serious bugs. etc.

      2) in-app analytic tools aren't what you use for recognizing errors AND correcting them. Analytics, like Google Analytics, KISSMetrics, Optimizely, etc, are great for generating quantitative data about WHAT your users are doing. They are all good in their own ways. They tell you nothing about WHY your users are behaving that way. For that, you need qualitative data - ie. observational research where you watch real people interacting with your product.

      3) Tools like usertesting.com and Validately (full disclosure: I'm an advisor there) are extremely useful for certain tasks. I like remote, unmoderated testing for very simple usability tests on things that are for general consumers and can be tested by people who have no familiarity with your product. The fact that they're being paid doesn't affect whether they understand the product, so it won't affect usability results.

      Do NOT use remote, unmoderated testing with random people on usertesting.com to try to understand whether people WILL use your product. It's not what it's for. It doesn't do that.

      As with any tool, you have to use these products for the things they do best, and you have to set up the tests correctly. I've seen lots of people get terrible data from usertesting.com because they wrote horrible, biased tasks and asked people the wrong questions.

      It sounds like you don't have much experience with user research or usability testing, so I'd strongly recommend you get expert help before diving into any of these tools.
      thanks for the questions,
      laurak

      2 Share
  • BN

    Brian Nyagol

    over 3 years ago #

    Laura,

    I can't wait to be at the live talk. This is my question. Most online products need users to sign up. Unfortunately, users are always hesitant to do so, and would do anything to skip that process or find a faster alternative. Our products also need user information to be able to give the users the best service they need. Now, what is best to capture user information the easiest way and most effective? Social media logins provide as minimal information as names and emails.

    Consider these two scenarios. One filling all their details on sign up, then all is done (No disturbance filling any more forms), and letting them in with name and email, then ask for the information later when they are in. Which one is more likely not to appear tiresome to the end user?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Brian,

      Great question. It's a little broad, so I'll try to answer it as generally as possible while still being useful.

      When you're talking about getting people signed up for your product - what I consider to be conversion - you need to think of it as an exchange of value. You're asking the user for something of value: their data and the time it takes to put it in. When you are asking for something of value, you need to offer something of value in return.

      Now, you said that your products need that user information to give the users the best service, so it sounds like there is an implicit return of value for the user's data. That's great. You need to make it absolutely clear to the user at every single step of the way what value they are getting for each task you're asking them to do. Remember, they don't know anything about your product or how great it's going to be or what you're offering them or why they would want it. Trust me. They know nothing about you or your product, even if you think they should. Do some research on your product if you don't believe me.

      You're also asking for upfront vs lazy registration. In general, if you can put off asking for some of the info, that's a good idea. But don't do it if it seriously degrades the user experience. In my new book, Build Better Products (Rosenfeld '016), I talk about onboarding the following way:
      Think about the Required, the Encouraged, and the Eventual. What do you absolutely require for the product to work? You need to enforce that in onboarding. What would make it a better experience but isn't absolutely required? Encourage users to give you that data in onboarding. What would improve the product eventually, but you don't want to shove in their faces right now? Let them discover that on their own or introduce it in a later session.

      I have also found that asking for one or two pieces of information at a time makes the user feel less overwhelmed than asking for everything all at once, but your mileage may vary on that. Every user and product is different, so don't fall back on "best practices" without testing.

      thanks,
      laurak

      2 Share
  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Laura,

    Thank you so much for agreeing to do this AMA.

    1) I gather you've been into design and usability since 1995, did you ever feel frustrated in the early days of the internet that design wasn't up to the standard it could be and do you still feel frustrated these days - if so which parts of the design/usability spectrum do you feel disappointed by?

    2) What is your advice to companies trying to retro-fit their existing experience to mobile? Would you advice they just wipe the slate clean and build a parsed down experience tailored directly for mobile?

    3) Would you say moving into UX design is inaccessible? My dad's an engineer, my mum's an artist and I studied Biology. I have no formal qualifications in graphic design yet i'm sensitive to human behaviour, color theory (from my mum) and design from my dad - how does one make a formal crossover?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Edward,

      Answers in order:

      1) I don't think I felt frustrated in the early days because I was just learning along with the Internet. Things were hard, but I kind of expected them to be hard. We were doing insane things that nobody understood. Starting around the early 2000s, I started to get really frustrated (and remain so) by people who refused to listen to users. I had learned how important that was from a long line of people who had learned it before me (and who were probably super annoyed at how long it too for ME to get it), and I couldn't believe people didn't get it yet. There are fewer of those people that I run into now, so that's good. I'm less frustrated than I used to be overall, but more frustrated by the few individuals I find who still think they can design and build things without a strong understanding of the humans who will use it. Seriously. Get on board.

      2. Ooh, moving to mobile. First off, welcome to 2010. Second, start from context. Why would a user be using your product in mobile. What sorts of tasks are most important to them in a mobile context as opposed to desktop or tablet (and yes, tablet and mobile are quite different - shared vs personal devices, largely couch-based vs actually mobile, etc.). Once you understand what sorts of tasks the user wants to do on mobile, you can work on finding mobile specific ways of making them easier. Take advantage of the uniquely positive phone aspects when possible - cameras, gps, etc. - and try to avoid or improve the annoying crap - inputting large amounts of data, etc. I think mobile banking has done this beautifully with the whole "take a picture of your check to deposit" thing. Great way to think about how to use the native abilities of phones to do something that people are likely to want to do with their phones.

      3) One makes a formal crossover by studying the discipline. Being sensitive to human behavior and having a natural design talent are great, but they don't teach you the process of becoming a user experience designer. It's not at all inaccessible. We need more designers. There are lots of programs popping up all over the world to help you learn the actual skills you need. You can also learn on your own from tons of stuff on the web. Build things. Fail at them. Understand why they're wrong and do better next time. It goes faster when you get some professional help. Also, just generally working in tech can help you understand it better. I spent several years in the late 90s as a front end engineer which gave me a lot of skills that made my later transition to UX easier.

      Good luck!
      laurak

      3 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 3 years ago #

    Bonjour Laura,

    Thank you for doing this AMA. I have a simple question.

    What is the best way to validate a startup idea?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Arsene,

      It depends. It depends on the idea, the prospective user, and specifically what you want to validate. I have several talks about this sort of stuff on my website Users Know. You want the Landing Pages and Beyond - 5 ways to figure out if your idea is stupid talk. You can also read my first book, UX for Lean Startups, which goes into some different methods of validation in tiresome detail.

      The best general advice I can give you is, figure out who you think it's for in a really, really narrow, specific way (it's not "moms" or "knowledge workers" or anything else stupidly broad) and figure out what problem you think it solves for them. Then go out and find out if a) they have that problem, and b) they are willing to pay you to solve the problem for them. But there are tons of techniques for doing that, like Audience Building, Concierge, Landing Pages, etc.

      Good luck!
      laurak

      3 Share
      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        over 3 years ago #

        Thank you very much for your great insight, Laura.

        Will draw inspiration from it on top of early validation tests we did on super narrow core market we have used to iterate so far towards product-market fit.

        I find user testing sites powerful, some even allow to have a hard-coded prototype tested and have extremely precise audience targeting abilities.

        And meeting target users in person, just watching them use the app without any explanations, is something that I have found pretty powerful, too.

        Will be reading all your great content. Thanks again!

      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        over 3 years ago #

        For those interested, here is the video "Laura Klein, Beyond Landing Pages: Five Ways to Find Out if Your Idea Is Stupid": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_g-9BpBcFs

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Laura,

    Super excited to have you at GrowthHackers.

    What do you think is the most effective way for a founder/PM to conduct user research and customer development? Is there a different strategy at different product stage?

    For example, the PM can conduct interview, analyze behavior data in the app, yet still face many limitations, for example, the user may not state very clearly what he want, or the data doesn't tell you why, or there are different segments mixed together. How do you solve these issues?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Hila,

      When you're conducting user research of any sort, you need to focus on the kind of question you're asking and pick the right methodology for learning that. Unfortunately, there are too many different types of methodologies for me to walk through them here, but that's a chapter in my upcoming book, Build Better Products. I walk you through a series of questions and the types of research you'd use to answer them. For example, the methodology depends on if you want to learn What or Why and if you're learning about your User or your Product.

      You wouldn't use usability testing to learn if people will use your product. You wouldn't use customer development to learn if people can understand your messaging. etc.

      Never, never, never just ask people what they want. Or rather, if you do, you need to then dig and find out why. Too many PMs just ask customers, "what feature do you want" and then build that. Those PMs are not doing their jobs. They need to understand what problems the user is trying to solve.

      It's true that data don't tell you why somebody wants something. That's not a problem, exactly. It's just a limitation of the method. It's not what it's for. Hammers aren't any good for sawing things. You also need saws. Data tell you what is happening. You use qualitative methods to understand the why behind it.

      I have a talk on my site, Users Know, about combining Qual and Quant data with some more specifics. Video isn't great, but it's there.

      thanks,
      laurak

      2 Share
      • HQ

        Hila Qu

        over 3 years ago #

        This is very helpful. Will look for the resources you mentioned.

        Thank you!

  • AS

    Abrar Shahriar

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi, Laura.

    Finger crossed that, this AMA is going to be blast. You have always been a great mentor for #Startupscompanies and your books are one of my favorites.

    1. Do you answer any particular field of marketing strategy or overall everything related to UX and customer acqusition or satisfaction ?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Abrar,

      I can answer a few questions about marketing - mostly around content strategy and how good UX can improve or destroy your marketing efforts. But I'm mostly a UX and Product Management expert. My understanding of marketing is limited to what I learn from people who do it every day.

      thanks,
      laurak

  • ED

    Emerson Dameron

    over 3 years ago #

    Thanks for your generosity, Laura.

    I am interested in finding ways to bring together my work in UX and comedy.

    Your lacerating wit is an inspiring example of how this can be done.

    Whom else in the UX world do you consider particularly funny?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Emerson,

      Thanks! I appreciate it. The great thing about the UX world is that the standards for comedy are pretty low. We're not a hilarious bunch, so it's not hard to be "funny for UX."

      That said, Mike Monteiro and Erika Hall are much funnier than I am. And he doesn't write about UX explicitly, more about tech and startups, but I will watch any talk that Maciej Ceglowski gives, and I follow both of his Twitter accounts (baconmeteor and pinboard) and they slay me.

      Good luck! Be funny.
      laurak

  • MT

    Michael thooft

    over 3 years ago #

    Hello Laura

    I have several questions concerning how to approach growth hacking in a B2B environment.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to promote a fairly new B2B e-commerce software product?
    How should we start with collecting contact information?
    And, which tools do you recommend us to promote visibility?

    Thank you in advance for responding!

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Michael,

      Those are...enormous questions. The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends. I can't give you tactics without understand more about your potential users, their problems, and your solutions to those problems. The kind of marketing you want depends on your engine of growth, the price point, the market, etc. etc.

      There is no silver bullet for selling things to businesses. There's only understanding who your users are, who their influencers are, where they hang out (channels), and what sort of messaging they respond to. Once you know that, it'll be much easier to figure out what sorts of material to put in which channels.

      thanks,
      laurak

  • ES

    Edo Sadikovic

    over 3 years ago #

    Hello Laura,

    Thank you for AMA.

    Do you have any recommendations on how to use UX and Lean method in the offline world?

    More specifically, how to use UX to build the most user-friendly coworking and coliving space?

    Thank you

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Edo,

      We often use online examples of UX and Lean, but there's nothing intrinsically online about them.

      Build the smallest thing possible you can learn from. Figure out a way to measure it (this is somewhat harder in offline, obvs). Constantly interact with users and potential users. Interview them to understand their problems.

      Tomer Sharon is currently the head of UX at WeWork, and his content is always super helpful and useful. Might want to keep an eye on what he's doing.

      laurak

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Laura: A quick other question in case you can get to it.

    Do you see any common points between the Design Thinking (de Bono) framework and the Lean Startup methodology?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Arsene,

      I teach the intersection of Design Thinking and Lean Startup, so yeah, lots of common points. I'd say that you can use Design Thinking within the Lean Startup framework to get user understanding and come up with good ideas for testing.

      I have always felt that Design Thinking didn't have a strong enough emphasis on validating concepts before moving onto creating prototypes and testing usability. I've often felt that Lean Startup practitioners didn't have enough grounding in good research and ideation methods - many rely far too much on "have a great idea out of nowhere and start throwing shit into the world to see what works." In this way, Lean Startup and Design Thinking are wonderful complements to each other, since they fill these needs for each other.

      Do be careful with Design Thinking. Real Design Thinking is based very heavily in excellent user research and a deep understanding of the person for whom you're building. A huge number of the workshops and classes I've seen about design thinking tend to ignore this and go straight to the playing with sticky notes and ideating. They're leaving out half the process, which turns it into a glorified brainstorm. Same thing with Lean Startup. A lot of folks are out there giving people tactics that won't actually help without a lot of user understand. Actually, it's the same problem with Growth Hacking!

      If you do any of these things well and with a deep understanding of the humans who use your product, you will get a lot of value. If you just adopt one or two of the tactics without understanding why you're using them or what you're trying to achieve, you'll most likely fail.

      thanks,
      laurak

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Laura

    So excited to have you on!
    I have a couple of questions, which I'll ask separately.

    First, I'm interested to know your thoughts on the right stage to start considering "UX" for a startup?
    It's extremely likely that an MVP is delivering on the core proposition and still be quite "embarrassing" from a UX/usability point of view.
    So is there a signal, qualitative or quantitative, that says you should specifically start paying attention to UX more from there on out?
    Is this also the point to consider getting a dedicated UX person on board or can that wait till later (and if later, what's the signal to hire that person)?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      UX is "user experience." It happens whether you explicitly design it or not, so it's probably best to include UX as early as possible. It might be a PM who is especially good at research and thinking through problems and user flows, etc, but you're "doing UX" whenever you let a human interact with your product, so it's not something you can sprinkle on later.

      Also, why would your MVP have to be embarrassing from a UX/usability point of view? It's not actually harder to build things that people understand and can use than it is to build something shitty. Stop building shitty, unusable things. You can't learn anything from shitty, unusable things other than that people don't want to use shitty, unusable things AND WE KNOW THAT ALREADY.

      Build small, focused products that solve a real problem for real humans in a specific context, and make them simple and clear and straightforward. You can do that quickly if you scope it small enough (see my rant about writing for an example of how I didn't do this).

      If you think about MVPs as writing, would you rather write a great, focused, informative, well written blog post about a specific problem or a big, unfocused, hard to read manuscript about a bunch of slightly related things? You can learn a ton from the former. You learn nothing from the latter. Think of your product as a great, focused, informative, well written blog post.

      thanks,
      laurak

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 3 years ago #

    Other than reading your book, what resources would you suggest startups refer to if they don't have a UX person on the team as yet to help them get by (to whatever extent possible)?

    • LK

      Laura Klein

      over 3 years ago #

      Erika Hall's book Just Enough Research is great for research. Leah Buley's book A UX Team of One is great for solo designers. And Cindy Alvarez's book on Customer Development is very Lean Startup focused and useful.

      Also, use frameworks and design pattern libraries to keep the visual design stuff simple until you've validated the product concept.

      Mostly though, keep talking to and observing users and potential users. Make sure you're solving a real problem for real humans and that you know what they're really experiencing with your product.

      thanks,
      laurak

      2 Share
  • SK

    Suraj kumar

    about 3 years ago #

    Thanks Klein for doing this.

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