LC012: On aesthetics vs. functionality and getting a positive return on investment

launchpeer - June 12, 2018

Today’s question:

Today’s question comes from Diego. It’s a two-parter today. 1) When building a startup, specifically on the user side, where should I draw the line between aesthetics and functionality? 2) On the startup side, what’s the best way to balance between extreme bootstrapping and necessary purchases?

Jake’s answer:

Drawing the line between aesthetics and functionality

Today, it’s easier than it ever has been to design a product that gets it right on the aesthetics. Most popular apps and products today tend to lean toward a simple and clean design standard.

Example: Airbnb

They have been a big influencer in the design realm for the last few years. If you look at their website you can see their design trends and what they use for branding. They make it all publicly available.

When you look at their site you’ll notice that they use a lot of clean lines and whitespace – there’s not a lot going on with design on each page. There aren’t a lot of background images or overlays. Lot of whites, blacks, pinks, grays, etc.

If I was trying to make sure my product looked good without going overboard on design elements versus functionality then I would look there first and stay updated on their blog. They have a great blog with lots of design content to learn more about what users want from web or mobile applications.

Just ship it

The best thing you can do is to just ship something to your users. You won’t really know out of the gate what your users are going to want or if they are going to love your design until they start using the product.

The two things you have to worry about when creating your site are usability and aesthetics. When you’re about to launch your startup don’t get too caught up in the aesthetics. You can tweak a font until the end of time but it’s not going to make or break whether users like your product.

But will the menu location make a difference in whether or not they keep using your app? Yes, definitely. Does making the UI overly complex determine whether they download it or not? Yes. The functionality and layout are more important than the aesthetics every time. As you are going through trying to make these decisions, think about whether the minor design elements matter or if you can come back to it later. Do you want to make a change due to usability or aesthetics? If it’s because of usability, then it’s ok to make the update. If not, it’s more important for it to ship than it is to make it look perfect.

Extreme bootstrapping vs. necessary purchases

We’ve been bootstrapping this business since the beginning so I have a lot of experience with this question. When I’m trying to decide whether to spend money on something or not, there’s only one thing I ask myself: will I get a return on my investment?

When I'm trying to decide whether to spend money on something or not, there's only one thing I ask myself: will I get a return on my investment? Click To Tweet

That’s truly the only question that matters as a bootstrapping startup. When we are trying to decide if we want to spend money on a new tool or hiring or marketing technique it always comes back to return on investment. Will I get a positive return on my investment?

Will hiring a new sales person help close more deals and have a positive impact on the bottom line? If I am paying them $5k a month will they be able to make the company more than that each month? It always comes back to the return. This is even true for our smallest of purchases (ex. $100 on Facebook ads).

You will have to spend money on marketing and sales at some point, so it’s not about not spending money at all, you have to be willing to spend money to make more money.

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