5 Common Design Start Up Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

| 5 min read

If you’re thinking of starting your own design company; here’s a list of common mistakes that people make during the start up phase and more importantly some tips on how to avoid these mistakes. This will save you time and money and quite possibly your sanity too.

Failing to Define Your Vision

Author/Copyright holder: Luke Saagi. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

User experience is all about knowing your users. You cannot hope to be all things to all men; so it’s always best to start by defining clearly what you intend to achieve and who your audience will be. I spent my first year freelancing and struggling to make ends meet – precisely because I had failed to define what I did. Generalists get paid badly and they’re always competing with millions of others for business. Specialists get paid well and have far less competition. So be a specialist from the outset and define what it is that you do and who you do it for.

Failing to Invest in Your Own Design

Author/Copyright holder: Duncan Rawlinson - @thelastminute - Duncan.co. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

Yes, you need clients but that doesn’t mean you can neglect your own branding and imagery. Strong design leveraged on your own brand in the early stages of building a business pays huge dividends later on. It makes you easy to recognize and easy to recall from the mass of other undistinguished start ups. Don’t neglect your own imagery ever.

Failing to Do User Research

Yes, that’s what we’re all about – user experience but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t dozens of talented and well-versed in UX principles designers out there that still fail to do the research when it comes to their own products. You have to work out whether people are going to buy what you make or you’re going to come unstuck sooner rather than later.

Failing to Understand the Importance of Client Acquisition

Sure, you’re hoping that a big venture capital company will come and rain money on you – the only problem is that the earlier this happens; the less of your company will be yours in the long run. Paying customers on the other hand, they give you money for your products and not for a share in the company. The more customers you can attract; the longer you can keep the wolves of the venture capital world at bay and that means retaining your vision and your corporate identity in the long run.

Failing to Time the Launch Right

Author/Copyright holder: Eugene. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

There are two bad times to launch; too early and too late. Buggy awful products that hit the market are quickly rejected and no matter how much promise they had – it can be impossible to get people to give you a second chance. If you wait for perfection, you’ll almost certainly launch as you’re running out of money. If you don’t get the sales you need (and this normally takes more time than you expect) – you’re out of business. So go for a minimum viable product and aim for quality in that – you can expand later when the money is flowing in.

Header Image: Author/Copyright holder: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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