Lesson Learned #5 From My First Startup

Lesson #5: User Experience is Critical

I have spent most of my career in a software company and I had no appreciation for how important user experience was until I was smacked in the face with it.

It was about 3 months after we launched our product and we were at the largest trade show in our industry. We came out strong at this show and really made our presence known. As we were demoing the product in the booth, it became really clear that the user experience sucked. It was hard for use to get to the value. Most of this stems from the business value not being clear but the user experience was just not there. The product was really powerful and could do lots of things but if your users aren't sure how to get there it really doesn't matter.

In version 2.0 the focus was entirely about user experience. There were some minor features we were putting in, but their only purpose was to enable better user experience. Version 2 never made it out the door but I still have a screen shot hanging on my wall at work as a reminder of the work the team did. The version that no one ever saw was the thing I was the most proud of in the end. The R&D lead and I talk that if we were to do it again we would have done 10% of the functionality and 100% of the user experience.

I talk about this in regards to software development, but it relates to all experiences that you create for your users. That could be an internal process. It could be your website. Always keep in mind what the problem you are trying to solve and the experience you want your users to have.

How important is user experience to you in the products you build and the experiences you create?  What are your best examples of a great user experience?

If you have missed any of the other posts from my lessons learned from my first startup you can check them out here:


Lesson #1: Get the right people on the bus and in the right seats. Get the wrong people off the bus.

Lesson #2: Be Clear About the Business Problem You Are Solving

Lesson #3: Keep It Simple

Lesson #4: Do Your Homework and Get Candid Feedback