This is my journey of building UX Help, an app that provides user experience support for early stage startups (or people with side projects) to help them improve their product by connecting them with UX professionals from across the globe.
Like many peers working in the industry, I see tons of opportunities all around but the motivation to go from the problem spotting phase to problem solving seems really difficult.
I happen to work for a brilliant company surrounded by talented people. During lunch discussions with my colleagues, we’ve probably come up with a zillion problems that need solving. But we all lack motivation to follow through and make something out of it.
Lately I’ve been working in the R&D department and as part of the newly formed lean team of two with zero budget, we were forced to do everything ourselves to validate our assumptions. This opened the doors for me to explore swift programming.
After a week of playing around with Swift, I probably grasped 5% of the language, but I felt like I can achieve so much with that 5%. Between my colleague Ben and I, we built a fully functioning prototype of an app in under a week and we had absolutely no experience in Swift when we started.
The Inspiration stage
Meanwhile on my drive back home (it takes me an hour every evening) I started listening to the Startup podcast, interviews from drt.fm, and lectures from the how to start a startup course by the Y Combinator guys at Stanford. With all that passive listening that I forced myself to hear every evening, my brain was now ready to take that first step beyond problem spotting and launch an experiment to see if it kicks.
One thing I started focusing on was my interests and what I’d like to build for myself first before thinking of anything else. Since I was learning Swift, this felt like the best approach to keep me motivated and to see a project finished.
Satisfying my own need
I get push notifications for every Product Hunt submission. I enjoy seeing new startups and I love going through the PH comments to read the founders vision. When Ethan launched, I thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be cool if startups could text me about questions on UX”. Not that I had all the answers to solve every problem. I can’t. But I had been doing it anyway and was loving every bit of it. A few startups and friends used to message/meet me every once in a while when in doubt and I always enjoyed those discussions. Moving on, as I was learning the basics of swift, I found SupportKit on product hunt. One thing led to another and I finally knew what I wanted to build in order to learn Swift. It wasn’t a world changing problem that I had come across, it was just what I wanted to do for myself and possibly others like myself.
Meet UX Help
An app for early stage startups that don’t have the luxury to invest heavily in UX to speak with passionate UX professionals who can help guide them in the right direction and if needed possibly be commissioned for a certain task. This was my passion. It doesn’t matter if it gains traction or not, I built this for myself to create a platform where I can help others. I opened it up to others as I believe there are several other people like me who enjoy helping startups gain traction in the early stages through good UX.
From inspiration to ideation to execution
The ideation phase quickly led into execution as I was now ready to build without holding back. I took my time in figuring out what I wanted to build. A quick round of sketching and then a dabble in sketch (the app) followed by a straight dive into Xcode to put it all together. I was confident I could do this all on my own. The times I struggled, a quick google search that always happened to link to a stackoverflow question helped me get back on track. Thank you stackoverflow. Not sure if I could have done this without you!
Build, Measure, Learn
If you’ve ever heard or read anything about the Lean Startup one of the main principles is the Build, Measure, Learn feedback loop of developing the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and then measuring and learning from actionable metrics that you have pre-determined to repeat this cycle with quick iterations. However, build in this loop is not just building the MVP. I finished building the product part and I had a bigger challenge ahead of me. Building the community, getting users, bringing people onboard. This is by far the bigger challenge than building the product. So I started spreading the word slowly as I was building the app. I spoke to a couple of friends in the industry, contacted the few people I had networked with at events, did some cold emailing which went nowhere. Realized I should always get a reference. Oh well… and then finally I launched the app.
Now I learn
This is the start of my experiment. From here on, I learn if my assumptions hold any meat and I continue to iterate. However, the learning can only happen when and if I manage to get people on the platform. So I’d be spending a lot of time on that, targeting startup founders and UX professionals to try UX Help.
Thanks for reading this far. If you found this useful, feel free to get in touch and say hi. If you’ve tried UX Help and if you have feedback for me or if you need help with anything, I am all ears.