How important is great user experience design for startups? As Kirsten Green, founder of Forerunner Ventures just put it at GigaOM Roadmap, "It's the backbone for this new generation of e-commerce companies."
We'd go even further and say it's essential to pretty much every startups' success, no matter what the category. Technology has become far more advanced in recent years (as Polyvore's Jess Lee noted at the conference), so companies can now create dynamic, engaging experiences. And that very fact means users now expect their experiences with websites and apps to be fluid, simple, and intuitive. (Anyone who owns an iPhone now expects no less.)
We’ve learned these lessons first hand by working with our awesome clients. Before Yodo1 publishes a new mobile game, for instance, they take great pains to insure the user experience is fun and easy, not just in the gameplay itself, but in the monetization process. (Especially in that process.) It's not just for consumer products: Appcelerator really pushes enterprise to think about continuous innovation, with design being at the forefront of the mobile experience.
But we're not the only ones to have this insight: even though GigaOM is a technology blog, the design-focused GigaOM Roadmap is packed to capacity not just with designers, but with CEOs and VCs who are evidently looking for inspiration on designing their own products and services. Then again, many successful startups like Airbnb have CEOs who are designers -- a point made in Katie Fehrenbacher's session with Joe Gebbia, aptly titled, "The Reign of the Designer Founder". In that session, Gebbia attributed Airbnb's success to meeting users in the real world, outside their office, implementing their feedback into user experience. (Also consider Jack Dorsey's deep emphasis on the Square user experience.)
"You really have to delight your user," Lee told the GigaOM Roadmap audience, because a delighted user is someone who shares your product with friends, which means user growth, which means revenue. We'd put it even more starkly: design your startup to be delightful -- or die.