Designing at Startup? Be A Part Of Customer Support

[Editorial Notes: Guest article by Ashish, founder of Mammoth a collaboration/ productivity tool.]

Don’t be dogmatic about process, specs and beautiful renders- Speed to market, learning and building is what matters; not your pixel perfect photoshop mocks & documentation. Ultimately, users see your product not photoshop files. Put a greater focus on designing experiences rather than on spec and deliverables.

Design with committee and not design-by-commmitee- You should also involve your product/feature team through out the UX cycle, but keep the reins with you. Listen to everyone, respect everyone’s PoV and design with all the insights combined together.

Developers are your best friend- A designer is only as good as a developer and vice versa. (S)he’s the one who can bring life to your mocks and all the interactions that you’d thought of/ prototyped. So bring him a box of donuts, his favourite drink and create the magic together.

Be a part of customer support- Even better head the customer support, that means talking to your users everyday on social media, support forums. It will definitely give you a better perspective about what to do and what to not do. It might not be as helpful as contextual research or a lab study but it’ll all keep you abreast with what’s working, what’s not and what more people are looking to get from your product.


Use pen(cil) more- Don’t jump to Sketch, Photoshop or HTML/CSS. No matter how fast you are with your digital tools, you can be at least 5X faster with a pencil. Pencil sketches are cheaper, get you better feedback and let you iterate much much faster.

Learn (always, always, always…)- Analytics, Git, HTML, CSS and all those left-brained stuff that we don’t really care about, matter and matter a lot for your startup. Try to get involved with your dev/ test/ product science team (if you have one), or step up and learn. Being a one-trick pony is ok and appreciated if you are working for a big organization, but a designer for startup is so much more than a designer; be a Product manager, a front-end guy, a customer support hero and you will add tons of value to your company and yourself.

Last but most important one- Take care of yourself and people around you, startup life can be really difficult. Share an occasional laugh with your kid (I do it every 4 minutes), go for a dinner with your beautiful spouse, play a quick game of tennis, drink a glass of wine. Enjoy, Design!

Enjoy, Design!

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