Why User Research is important for Startups?

Be smarter than 90% of startups

Here is the number 1 reason why we do Lean UX: We want to build a product that people will buy and use. Currently 9 out of 10 startups fail. A study by CB Insights indicates that most startups build a product with no market need. These startups fail to understand their customers and market, and end up building a product that people don’t want. As a result, these startups struggle to get revenue, and eventually run out of money.

With Lean UX, we engage with our customers, and potential customers, to build great products that provide high value and customer delight.

It is not enough to build a product based on the assumption of what we think is great. The only way to build a great product is to spend time with our customers to learn about their problems, needs and wants. We do this with user research. Listening to and observing our customers is the basis to building any successful business.

Forget traditional user research!

As a startup, forget traditional user research! It’s complex, costs insane amounts of money, and is followed by several months design and usability testing before anything is built. Instead, let’s make use of the Lean UX approach where we build fast, measure smart, learn quickly and iterate on an ongoing basis.

User research for startups means to start with a few lightweight experiments to test our product hypothesis – which is the assumption that we make on how to solve our customer’s problem with a product or feature. With Lean UX, we keep iterating and pivoting until we find something that people want to buy.

At the beginning, there was the problem (not the idea)

Our startup journey begins with us being exposed to a problem we have, a friend has, someone we know has, or that we read or hear about. But hold on! How do we actually know that we came across a problem that is shared by many people? How do we actually know the problem is big enough that people will pay for the solution? And, how do we actually know that our product idea is solving the problem and is solving it well?

So before we build anything, let’s validate the problem.

The internet is a fantastic tool to find out about potential competitors, about a potential market size and so on. However, we’re still in the process of validating our problem. In most cases, research online is a great starting point to get an initial understanding if the problem exists for people, but to identify if the problem is severe enough that people would pay for the solution, we need to spend time with our potential customers to get to know them and to understand their pain points.

By doing user interviews, we speak directly to our future customers. It enables us to gather highly qualitative research to answer following questions: Who are these people? How do they behave? What problems do they struggle with? And, how do they currently solve their problems?