UX design for startups - cover

UX Design for Startups: Unlocking UX Design’s Power for Early-Stage Success

Design, Startup
12 min
Feb 08, 2024

Every company starting its way in digital product development focuses on some aspects more and puts others in a secondary place. For startups, it is about choosing what to invest and what cannot be worth putting money into at the early development stage. Since design is an essential component of the application, it should not be the place where you cut corners.

According to the statistics, 94% of overall impressions are based on design. And if you are starting to build your brand’s awareness and client loyalty, it is too much to lose by not working on the design part well.

So, why is user experience (UX) design essential for startups? Read on, and you will find out the answers.

Standing Out on the Market Is the Key to Success

Entering the current market and impressing the audience are the tasks startups have to work hard on. This is due to a highly competitive digital space. Companies strive to win customers and, thus, develop decisions that attract them. One such decision is putting a customer at the center.

Investing in UX is what can give your company an advantage over competitors. If your product creates a unique experience for every user, makes it easy to navigate through the features, and provides quick solutions — people will choose you.

Unique Challenges and Opportunities Startups Face in UX

Challenges and opportunities startups face in UX

For startups, UX design brings the following challenges:

  • Budget constraints. Startup companies usually have limited financial possibilities and plan every expense. Thus, investing in high-quality UX design might be challenging, as it is a budget-consuming process.
  • Limited time. Every new company wants to present its products or services on the market as soon as possible. However, creating a design catered to users’ needs requires time.
  • Aesthetics vs. functionality. It is always the hardest part of the process to decide whether the product will be aesthetically pleasing or functional. When startups lack experience, they might doubt what part of the design to focus on.
  • Continuous changes and improvements. Companies must constantly monitor trends in the design landscape, where everything changes so fast. For startup businesses, it means adopting the approach of always being ready to implement changes and adapt to them.

Why UX Design for Startups Is Important

Focusing on UX design for startups comes with a lot of benefits. Below, you will find why following a user-centered approach in design plays a decisive role in the product’s success.

UX design for startups

Improved Key Metrics

As a new company, your main task is to present yourself in a way that attracts more customers and builds trusted relationships with them. It is a proven fact that people form an attitude toward a brand based on their first impression. In the timeframe, it takes a maximum of several minutes for a viewer to identify whether to collaborate with the brand or not. The research shows that 52% of users will only engage with the website if it has a good mobile design. UX design influences other essential metrics like user acquisition, conversion and retention rates, and brand loyalty and awareness. If you plan to play long and succeed, you must make staying with your company pleasant for every user.

Examples of Startups that Have Grown by Investing in UX Design

These are real examples of startup companies that have become recognized by setting and meeting high standards in UX design:

  • ProtoPie. A prototyping tool, ProtoPie, promotes easy-to-use features to create prototypes of products for various device types. It impresses with smooth interaction and catches from the first seconds. For a customer, seeing an approach like this means this is a company to trust.
  • Typeform. If you want to get feedback from your customers in an interactive way while getting meaningful insights, Typeform will satisfy that need. Its absolute highlight is offering users a simple way to build forms, puzzles, quizzes, and other types of feedback-gathering instruments. Thus, even users without a technical background can easily cope with Typeform due to its simple design.

More companies have grown fast by investing in UX. Almost every active online user interacts with Slack, Airbnb, Uber, or Canva. Each company has gained popularity by focusing on exceptional features tailored to various target audiences.

Myths About UX for Startups

There is a myth that hiring a UX designer is not cheap and is not a priority for startups. In some way, it might be so if you don’t follow an agile and lean approach to UI/UX design. The idea is to prioritize core functionalities for users and put them first for design development. Then, after gaining feedback from users, it will be possible to identify what to remove and what to add.

Setting Client-Oriented Culture

For startups, it is crucial to understand that putting a user at the center is a winning decision. And as you start your way as a company, you can embrace that approach from the beginning. To understand the users’ needs, you can use UX research methods.

UX research methods include surveys, interviews, usability testing, field studies, focus groups, concept testing, user roadmaps and personas, customer feedback, card sorting, and many others.

Here are some tips on how to involve early adopters in cooperation with your brand:

  1. First, identify who your early adopters are. Learn about them with surveys, social media, referrals, and landing pages. You can also identify them according to demographics, needs, and other characteristics.
  2. Locate the problem and solution. Another step is to find the problem you can solve for customers and offer your solution to them.
  3. Build relationships. This relates to communication with early adopters and showing them your interest in their input.
  4. Involve team members. Early adopters are not only customers. They can be your team members. So, ask for their feedback, involve them in product testing, and communicate ideas.

UX for Startups with Limited Budget

As already mentioned, if you want to hire startup design experts, it is an additional expense. And for companies that are on the way to development, every expense plays a decisive role. However, no matter your UX design budget, you can always benefit from free or inexpensive tools.

Top Free Tools for UX Design Purposes

Even with budget constraints, a startup company can afford high-quality UX design, as many tools offer free trial sessions for testing and prototyping. UX designers recommend the following free instruments.


On UXtweak, you can test your product for all possible purposes, from sketches to production. For small projects, this service is free. The starting price for larger products is $80 monthly.


If you focus on usability testing, the SurveyMonkey tool will be of help. Its features allow you to create unlimited surveys or forms with up to 10 questions. The basic package is free; the individual plan starts at €38 a month.


With Userbrain, you can find out what users think about your product. For example, you can watch how customers interact with your product and spot areas for improvement. The pricing policy is $14 per test, the results of which are ready within several hours.

Creating User Journey Maps

A part of creating UX design is identifying the user journey. It predicts user behavior with the purpose of creating a smooth and easy path. For example, the roadmap of customer actions might be the following: I’ve seen an ad for the service; it sounds like it fits my needs, but I have to explore it; there are competitors, and I have to check them all; let me test the product; and finally, I will buy it.

Steps for Creating a User Journey Map

The better you understand the user, the more tailored UX design solutions you will provide. You can follow these steps to create a user journey map:

Steps for creating a user journey map

  • Setting goals. As user roadmaps apply at different stages, you must first decide what you want to accomplish. Do you want to know how customers appear on your website? Or learn how they get to a specific feature? Setting objectives will narrow down your actions for further steps.
  • Identifying target audience. The main characters of the map are user personas. Learning who they are and what they need will help you identify where they will go.
  • Listing touchpoints. Every time a user interacts with your brand in an advertisement, a review, an onboarding path, or a purchase, it is a touchpoint. They form the user journey.
  • Gathering data about pains and points of friction. This is the key moment when you identify what points stop users from having a smooth experience. Based on that, you can improve your product design and resolve users’ pains.

Data-Driven Approach

UX design should be based on data. It is not enough to just predict what people will like and what they will not. Every decision should be confirmed with evidence. And you can get that evidence from UX metrics.

These are the most essential metrics in UX for startups to track: user satisfaction, task success, usability, engagement, conversion rate, retention rate, error rate, loading time, navigation, and accessibility.

You can use analytical tools such as Google Analytics, Hotjar, Survey Monkey, User Zoom, and others to measure UX design metrics.

Future of UX Design for Startups

As technologies evolve, startup companies have to adapt to the changes quickly. The future of UI/UX design is influenced by personalization, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).Designers expect to see these trends develop in the future:

  • Augmented reality
  • Virtual reality
  • Voice-driven user interfaces
  • Haptic feedback

We are already familiar with those trends, as we can hardly imagine our day without virtual assistants or voice recognition.

For startups, following the trends is a must. To stand out in this competitive market, it is essential to always keep track of what is new and implement the changes.

Final Words

Startup companies expect to get revenue proportional to the costs and efforts they invest in product development. User-oriented design is a weighty factor that can help win customers and, thus, more sales. People these days look for solutions that can both satisfy their needs and be tailored to their preferences. And if your product doesn’t meet those requirements, there will be plenty of competitors to whom the client will turn.

If you want to achieve the desired business results, choose our UI/UX design agency for startups. We will offer you design solutions based on your budget without compromising the core principles of good UX design.

by Ivan Klyzhenko
UX Startup Advisor, Uitop


Why is UX design worth investing in?

Startups usually don’t prioritize investing in UX design. However, customers expect products with features catered to their needs, so this aspect should not be neglected. By developing a strong UX, you can receive better satisfaction, conversion, and retention rates.

What challenges do new companies face in UX design?

Startups often come across these challenges in UX design: limited time and resources, the choice of aesthetics or functionality, and adapting to the fast-paced rhythm of the design landscape.

What is the main approach in UX design?

The main trend in UX design is a user-centered approach. This means putting users at the center of the product and adapting the functionality to their needs.

How do I start UX designing?

Before the actual designing phase, startups have to conduct UX research. This means they have to investigate the target audience and create user personas and user journey maps. This can be completed with free instruments, so it will not influence the budget of a startup company.

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