We’ve previously discussed a frequent and misguided way new entrepreneurs try to save costs: by using “cheaper” developers. This is often a costly mistake in terms of both time and money. This post will cover another common mistake: skimping on design.

Entrepreneurs start with a grand vision of what their software should be and do. You imagine every feature our users want, expect that they will be able to Do All The Things. So a logical next step should be hiring a developer and letting them go to straight work, right? Wrong.

A software development approach that doesn’t consider design won’t solve your users’ problems.

Users don’t want an infinite array of options (even though they will often say they do). They want your product to solve their problems so they can get on with their lives. If your software can provide that, they will keep coming back.

Many all-in-one development shops provide cheaper services by skimping on design. They work from existing templates and provide a shell of how a professionally built app should behave.

Apps like this might meet your technical requirements but rarely provide a good user experience, and how could they? These apps are built from a generic template. Are your users generic? We didn’t think so.

Bad design will tank your application

Most developers can create the features you want to build. Some of us can even make your product look nice and professional (even pretty).

But the difference between pretty design and good design is a deep understanding of the problems you are trying to solve for your users.

Plopping a button on a screen doesn’t solve your users’ problems if the interface is cluttered. User confusion is not a sustainable strategy. People will ditch your app and go use one of the million other options vying for their attention.

Your design is worse than you think

No design survives its first contact with users – Scott Davis @scottkdavis

Sitting through a usability testing session is a humbling experience. Even with what you think is a well thought out interface, your software will confuse new users. Be prepared to make changes.

And you don’t need a huge number of test users or an expensive user test environment to get feedback. Find a colleague in the industry, or a friend in your target market, and ask to let you watch them use your software. If you work in an office, grab someone in the hallway. Hallway testing is a thing.

Get feedback early and often.


Work with a solid designer, or a dev shop with strong design resources on hand. We can help.

Get your software into the hands of users early and often.

Iterate. Iterate. Iterate. Until your users can solve their problems with your software quickly, easily, and elegantly.

Also published on Medium.