How Can a Startup Design a User-Friendly Product?

By Eric Dickmann

June 24, 2019

Poke-Yoke Technique, User Experience, User-Friendly Product, UX

Companies sometimes release products that may not appeal to customers. This was the case for 17% of startup failures. The truth is: startups rarely failed because the founder has a terrible idea. Instead, products were often rushed into developed and put on the market without proper research, strategy, and testing. Months or years of effort were put into production without considering customer satisfaction. It's essential for startups to build user-friendly products that are specifically designed to meet customer needs.

User-friendly is a term we use to describe anything that is easy to use - or easy to learn how to use. In other words, using it is simple and straightforward. A user-friendly product is anything that is compatible with its user’s knowledge, skills, concentration span, and other aptitudes.

Why Does Your Product Need to Be Friendly to Its Users?

Customers are the end users of your products or services. There is no transaction beyond the end user so, it's important to think from the customer’s point of view. Here's why any product that you build or any service that you provide needs be user-friendly:  

  • A user-friendly product or service helps create a great first impression for the consumer. This helps to gain more presence for your product.
  • As it's said that “ the first impression is the last impression”. This impression decides whether the user will use your product or service again or not. A user-friendly product understands what your target audience wants and is designed to address a specific need.
  • User friendliness should be present in the product you develop and also in the service that you provide. 

Attributes of a User-Friendly Product

While "user-friendly" is a subjective term, the following are common attributes found in user-friendly products or services:
  • Simple - It's not complex. It's straightforward, providing quick access to common features or commands.
  • Clean - It's well-presented or well-organized, making it easy to locate different tools and options.
  • Intuitive - It makes sense to the average user and should need a minimal explanation for how to use it.
  • Reliable - A user-friendly product is reliable and does not malfunction or crash.

Principles of Product Design

The Citeman Network of Professional Learning and Development listed the following principles of user-friendly product design:

  • Simplify the requirements of the user in using the product.
  • Be in the user’s shoes and understand the user’s skills and knowledge. The product should allow a user to operate it with ease.
  • The operations to be done by the user while using the product should be very obvious.
  • Standardization might help in increasing the familiarity of the user to the product. So, use standardization in product designs.
  • Display clear instructions about how to use the product.
  • Expect mistakes and human errors during usage. Have a design that will not offer any chance for mistakes to occur. Design one in which mistakes will not affect the product’s functioning.
  • Use the Poka-Yoke or error-proofing technique. Proofing a product design for errors is about establishing the common mistakes made in relation to the product’s manufacture or use. The action taken is to incorporate fail-safe mechanisms to prevent the error from occurring. Then there should be no chance for the user to make a mistake.

As a general rule, offer a unique solution to the customer's problem. Present it in the simplest way they can understand. By doing this, you can create a product that gives value and satisfaction to the user.

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the founder of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast - The Virtual CMO, and a CMO On Demand for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies and bring innovative products to the market.

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