How Should a Startup Evaluate Design?

Posted by John Long on Mar 22nd, 2011

With the number of products launched daily on the Web you might think that there would be more discussion about the usefulness of design as it applies to the startup. How do you choose the right level of design to test an idea or the viability of a product? Sadly, most discussion about the usefulness of design is made by people who believe that design has near-infinite value, very little value at all, or is just a mystery altogether.

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The budget

It seems like early stage custom software development project budgets are almost always set the wrong way. If I had a hundred bucks for every prospective client that has come to Terralien with a $10,000 budget, I’d probably have enough money to fund my own startup.

How do so many of them end up with this same exact number? I think it’s a combination of several things:

  • a gut feeling (what they think it should cost),
  • some informed opinion (their cousin’s friend said most apps cost $5,000-$10,000 and “don’t let anybody tell you otherwise”), or
  • a calculation based on the going rate for freelancers ($100 bucks an hour X 100 hours [that should be plenty, right?] = $10,000).

As interesting as all these are (and there are probably many more), I’d like to explore the last one first.

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