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wireless Wednesday

m:lab By Jessica Colaço / November 20, 2011

Wireless Wednesday Recap – “User Experience Research for Startups”


The m:lab hosted a Wireless Wednesday event on the 9th of November 2011 with a focus on User Experience Research for startups.

The discussions revolved around what we identified as a fundamental question: “Can ideas be validated through research?” One assumption stemming from this question is that ideas can be validated through many prototyping cycles before launching.

An argument about balancing users wants and the founders vision in light of market/user strategy also stemmed off the fundamental question. And while this may be inexhaustible, there is consensus around having a single unchanging vision but tweaking and changing strategies to meet users needs and perceptions.

The same may apply differently for the technology platforms that startups choose. While most statups will have a preference for some platforms over others based on their skill sets and/or market forces, ultimately, it should be matched to the end users needs. Startups should take some time to focus on what technology is most suitable to meet the end users needs.

A concluding argument focused on functionality of the application. Does it always equal good user experience? While this may be true for some applications, it isn’t a standard metric. Functionality can be centered on “key features” that aim to make an application stand out or an equal relation but if it lacks the capacity to meet the end users needs, it will have failed in user experience design and research.

A number of highlights of the event are listed below:

  • UX profession has at least two parts – UX Research + UX Design
  • Considerations for UX: Developer’s Vision VS What Users Want to achieve VS Path for user to achieve what they want to do
  • Just having idea alone potentially makes you irrational – especially by ignoring real user needs
  • Co-Design – Design together with your customer
  • Aim to change as little as possible of your user’s normal behaviour

Author : Jessica Colaço

Jessica Colaço is currently the Director of Partnerships at iHub. She was the Founding Manager between 2010 and 2011 at iHub and Research Director between 2011 and 2013 at iHub Research. She is passionate about Innovation, Research, Mobile and Robotics Technology, Mentorship and Entrepreneurship in Kenya as she uses her position at iHub to court local, regional and international stakeholders to adopt Kenyan-made and African-made solutions. As an upcoming angel investor, she courts local and international investors to invest in great tech ideas and companies at idea and concept stage. She is also a Mobile and Robotics Tech Evangelist, Co-Founder of WMIAfrica and AkiraChix, ISOC-Kenya Chapter, Treasurer, ACM-W Nairobi Chapter Chair, TED Global Fellow 2009 and upcoming Guitarist. She was named one of the top 40 women under 40 years in Kenya's business scene by Business Daily on 2009, 2011 and 2012. Her endeavour is to put Kenya and Africa on the map for technology achievements and spur innovation within the country and continent! She blogs at:

  • Franco Papeschi at 13:08:12PM Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Towards the end of the discussion, we briefly touched on ‘how to integrate research in a highly technical start-up environment’. Some comments pointed to the fact that developers don’t think they have the skills to do some ‘quick&dirty’ research or test. I think the talk ‘Stop listening to your customers’ by Bolt & Trammell at SxSWi 2011 is a useful resource if you want to see how some companies (i.e. Twitter) is doing it:

  • Hands-on UX Workshop *iHub_ at 20:14:29PM Thursday, November 24, 2011

    [...] workshop on 8th December 2011 from 10 am to 1 pm at the iHub. This workshop is a follow-up to a recent Wireless Wednesday event that focused on User Experience research for startups. The event will be a practical step-by-step [...]


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