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How to set up design for startup


Designing a startup design is long and complicated. After the designer receives the design, he or she does a re-survey, thinks through user scenarios, discusses, works with feedback, and tests. You can’t leave anything out to make sure it comes out “good.”  

The work is capacious, so I suggest we go from the beginning. At Purrweb, a company that provides UI/UX services, every design project starts with a test contract.

The test contract. What’s that?

It’s a mini-project with a time limit. For about 8-16 hours. The main task – to understand that the designer and client look in the same direction and suit each other.

The task of the designer is clear. But what happens “under the hood”? Let’s look into it.

Diving Into the Project

First I try to understand what’s going on here. I bombard the project manager with questions, pull out the details, assemble them in a kanban card. Then I analyze and write out the functionality that I plan to show on the paper warframe.

Rapid sketching comes in handy when I have to outline the key user actions and think through the transitions. This is not about presentable startup design, so usually this part of the work does not reach the client. But such “scribbles” help to quickly sketch and discuss ideas (at least with yourself), and then proceed to designing a more detailed wyfraim.

It’s cool when a client shares his or her visual design preferences and shows the services he or she likes. To design a truly workable startup design, you have to find a middle ground. Somewhere you have to give in and listen, somewhere you have to insist or offer alternative solutions. The line is thin, to see it, you need not only design hard skills, but also empathy – the ability to hear and read between the lines.

Adding beauty

At the startup, we “dived” into the semantic part of the startup design. Time to dive into the UI design.

At this stage, a design concept is created. This is a slice of visual design – 1-2 screens from a key user scenario. The goal is to agree on the overall style of the final product on shore.

To be visually inspired, I study competitors, apps with appropriate styling, look at how they work, how search, sidebar and so on look like – the artboard in Figma is ideal for collecting references. This kind of research helps me decide on the key components of a startup’s design – typography, color palette, grid, fonts and icon stylistics.

I’ve already said how cool it is when a client shares references. Now, “detail generous” clients don’t always happen. “Freedom. The startup design will be whatever I want it to be!” – you might think. Not quite so. Without understanding expectations, you end up with an empty, ill-conceived startup design, which is unlikely to be of any use to the business or the end user.

It happens that at the stage of preliminary contract, the client himself goes in the opposite direction.


So what is the point?

Design concept saves on all fronts. Let’s get the main point straight:

  • Design is not a marriage relationship. You try it and you don’t like it, you split up quickly. No hard feelings or universal investment.
  • You come to the “This is what you need!” already on the shore. With the classic Wireframe approach, it happens too late! Or it doesn’t happen at all and you just endlessly fight with the designer about UX issues.
  • Concrete, tangible design is what you need to show partners, investors, and your wife. Moodboarding, Wireframes, and word-of-mouth ideas are all lyrics that do nothing to sort out the “So how?”

A design concept is not the end result. It’s more of a litmus test to confirm that the direction is right – for the client, the designer, and the users.

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