There has been a lot of discussion around the increasingly important role of strong design at early stage startups, particularly for consumer facing companies. It seems like not long ago being a startup was a valid excuse for lackluster design. This is no longer the case. Now it’s rare to see a startup with poor design get much traction: good design has become table stakes. Obviously there are some massively popular services that buck this trend; I don’t think Twitter or Reddit are going to win any design or UI rewards. Despite their simple design — or perhaps, in part because of it — both have obviously amassed huge user bases. That being said, in general most new services are being released with a higher level of polish than ever before.
There is another equally important aspect of startups that doesn’t get the same fanfare – Customer Support. In fact, you could make the case that customer support is even more important than design and possibly even engineering in your earliest days. When you’re in the early stages your users are typically going to be your most fervent. The ones whose problem you’re most closely solving. Because of this, they’re going to be less demanding when it comes to your design and product, assuming the business model solves their core problem. However, what can be hugely beneficial to accelerating your growth is to turn these early users into evangelists. The best way to do this is to make them feel a sense of community with your product, and the foundation of your community is your customer support.