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Best practices hiring agency for Series A startups

Investing in high-quality design services equips Series A startups with a strong brand identity, enhances user experience, and increases market competitiveness.

26 January, 2024
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Series A startups differ significantly from other startups in a way that affects their need for design services. 

With more established products, precise market focus, stronger financial backing, and experienced management, they tend to have different design needs than other startups. 

Unlike pre-seed and seed startups, series A startups prioritize designs that support scaling, have access to more data to inform their design decisions, and could focus more on comprehensive service design rather than just product design.

If you:

  • Have a developed and tested product or service with some market traction or revenue,
  • Have identified your specific customer group and have a plan to reach and sell to them, including understanding market size, competition, and growth potential,
  • Offer a unique value that differentiates you from competitors​​,

…you are a Series A startup, and you need to read our article to better understand and plan your design needs.

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Design systems for scalable growth

As your startup grows, your design needs might be more oriented towards scaling, requiring designs that can adapt to rapid changes and expansion. Design systems are the way to go. 

Design agencies are equipped to handle these evolving design needs. As startups grow and their team expands, the focus shifts to enhancing collaboration across the entire product team. Only then can you deliver a consistent product, even as the organization scales and diversifies its offerings. 

How exactly do design systems contribute to scalability, efficiency, collaboration, and brand consistency? 

  1. First of all, they offer a collection of reusable components and guidelines, enabling you to scale your products more efficiently. 
  2. They accommodate new features and functionalities as your product grows, ensuring consistent quality even as the product becomes more complex in two primary ways: by getting wider through more consumers and products and by getting deeper through adding more components, patterns, tools, and libraries​​​​.
  3. Design systems also reduce the time and resources needed for design and development. This means your teams will focus on solving new problems rather than recreating existing elements. The collaboration between your stakeholders, designers, developers, and others involved in product development will improve over a shared language and set of guidelines.
  4. Finally, design systems ensure that every component and element of your product is consistent, delivering a more cohesive user experience. Your brand representation across different platforms and products will strengthen your identity and user recognition​​​​. 

Choosing a design agency experienced in creating design systems is a strategic move for Series A startups aiming for cost-effective growth. 

For example, our proven track record in enhancing design efficiency and consistency comes from working with dozens of SaaS companies, collaborating with teams of up to 15 designers, and functioning as external consultants to streamline their design processes.  

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Product and website consistency

When we shift our focus to product and website consistency, a whole new aspect of design comes into play. It's no longer just about creating a memorable brand image. You need to provide a seamless, unified experience across your product and website.

A key factor in achieving this consistency is the use of standardized design elements. This includes maintaining a coherent color scheme, typography, and imagery across all digital platforms. By doing so, you make your product and website instantly recognizable to your audience, reinforcing brand awareness and loyalty.

Design agencies will craft a cohesive design language that can be applied not only to your brand identity but also to your product interface and website layout. This way, every aspect of your digital presence matches your brand's values and vision.

Moreover, consistent design across your product and website enhances usability. When users recognize familiar patterns and visual cues, they navigate and interact with your product more efficiently. This familiarity reduces the learning curve for new users and improves the overall user experience.

Here’s what you can expect from a design agency in terms of deliverables:

  • Brand design and development that includes logo design, color palettes, typography, and other visual elements that make your brand easily recognizable;
  • Brand style guides;
  • A clear brand positioning strategy;
  • Compelling brand stories;
  • Marketing collateral design;
  • Digital marketing campaigns;
  • Packaging design;
  • Brand messaging framework.

Optimizing design workflows with Figma organization

Becoming a series A startup also means dealing with the increased complexity of design projects, necessitating tools that foster efficient collaboration and design consistency. In most of the cases, ours included, teams use the Figma platform. 

Effective organization within Figma is key to managing this complexity. Adopting a structured approach to organizing Figma files can significantly enhance your design team's productivity. 

For example, implementing a clear file structure - categorizing files into design systems, work in progress, approved designs, archives, etc. - ensures that every team member can quickly access the necessary projects and components​​.

Design agencies also know well how to provide consistency within files, layers, components, and styles, which helps team members quickly locate specific assets and understand their functions. 

The immediate exchange of ideas accelerates the design process, from conceptualization to finalization, ensuring that your startup can adapt quickly to market demands and user feedback​​.

If you want to know more about improving your design workflow, check out our free Figma kit.

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Agile and fluid roadmaps

In the context of Series A startups, having more established processes and roadmaps can significantly impact the planning and execution of design projects. 

While a more structured enterprise might have clear roles and responsibilities, startups, particularly in their early stages, often benefit from a more flexible and dynamic structure. This agility fosters innovation but sometimes leads to confusion due to overlapping duties.

A crucial solution here is adopting Agile methodologies. Design agencies can be instrumental in guiding startups to embrace Agile principles, such as Scrum or Kanban, and in providing tools for their effective implementation. The primary goal of Agile is to enable startups to respond swiftly to market changes and customer feedback.

Another key aspect of Agile is its emphasis on quick delivery, which is particularly crucial for product and marketing experiments. By implementing Agile, startups can rapidly prototype and test new ideas, allowing for faster iteration and optimization. 

This approach is not only beneficial for product development but also vital for agile marketing strategies. Using data and analytics, marketing teams can quickly source promising opportunities, deploy tests rapidly, evaluate the results, and iterate on the go.

Here are some specific benefits of Agile in the context of quick delivery and experimentation:

  • Agile enables startups to quickly develop prototypes and test them in the market, leading to faster feedback and iteration cycles.
  • By focusing on short-term deliverables, startups can allocate resources more effectively, avoiding long-term commitments to untested ideas.
  • Agile methodologies allow startups to quickly adapt to market trends and customer preferences, ensuring that products and marketing strategies remain relevant.
  • With regular review and adaptation cycles, Agile supports an ongoing process of refinement and optimization, leading to better products and marketing outcomes.
  • Agile's focus on the end-user ensures that products and marketing strategies are always aligned with user needs and expectations, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

UX and UI design

In the journey of a Series A startup, the focus on product and customer journey becomes even more critical. With an increasing amount of customer data and feedback, design decisions move from being assumption-based to data-driven. This shift is where the real value of UX and UI design shines through, impacting not just the user experience but also the business's bottom line. 

UX and UI design help establish your startup as a leader in your industry by giving you results, such as enhancing user interaction, driving customer acquisition, improving retention, and optimizing conversion rates.

Design agencies bring a wealth of knowledge in navigating the intricacies of UX and UI design. Their expertise in creating user flows and customer journey maps provides deep insights into user behavior, uncovering opportunities for product improvement and innovation.

Effective UX and UI design can also significantly allocate resources towards the most impactful aspects of the user experience, boosting customer retention. Happy and satisfied customers are more likely to stay loyal to your brand, recommend it to others, and contribute to a growing and sustainable user base.

The real business value of UX and UI design lies in their ability to:

  • Position your startup as a leader in the market through innovative and user-centric design.
  • Drive customer acquisition by making your product more appealing and easy to use.
  • Enhance user retention by providing a seamless and satisfying user experience.
  • Optimize conversion rates by improving the usability and accessibility of your product.
  • Allocate resources efficiently by focusing on the most significant areas of the user experience.
UI/UX for startups
UI/UX for startups

Driving conversion and sales

Effective design will lead to improved user experience, which in turn will enhance conversion rates and sales. A well-designed interface or product can subtly guide users through the sales funnel, leading to better business outcomes.

With web design and digital marketing expertise, agencies can optimize design elements to improve conversion rates. This includes creating compelling call-to-action buttons, optimizing website layout, and improving the overall user journey for better sales outcomes.

Let’s look at it closer. We’ll start by identifying how often startups should engage in design services based on their business nature and growth stage​​. 

As startups enter the growth phase, the role of design becomes even more crucial. Along with scaling, this stage involves expanding the customer base and refining the marketing strategy. 

Design needs become more frequent and complex, as you'll need to continually adapt and respond to market feedback, competition, and their evolving brand narrative. Regular design services are essential, especially as the product offerings expand and evolve.

Overall, for Series A startups, investing in high-quality design is a strategic decision that leads to better customer engagement, stronger brand identity, and, ultimately, improved sales performance. 

It will enhance user experience, creating a more intuitive and engaging interface for customers. This not only attracts new users but also improves customer retention, as well-designed products are often easier to use and more satisfying.

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Case studies and examples

The collaboration between an Australian fintech company, Block Earner, and Merge Development, a design agency, aimed to enhance Block Earner's offerings in blockchain technology, focusing on making decentralized finance platforms more accessible to the general public. The key aspects of the project included website design, web application design, and the design and development of a mobile app.

Block Earner case study
Block Earner case study

The website redesign alone involved over 300 hours of work, focusing on creating an elegant and accessible fintech solution. This effort was part of Block Earner's broader marketing design strategy.

From a Series A startup's perspective, hiring a design agency like Merge Development significantly enhanced their digital presence and user experience. The collaboration led to the creation of a more intuitive, secure, and visually appealing platform, catering to the needs of modern fintech users and contributing to the startup's further success.

Conclusion

To sum it up, design agencies serve as crucial partners for startups, offering design expertise and strategic guidance, which is vital for startups to establish themselves and grow successfully.

For Series A startups especially, where establishing a strong market presence is crucial, investing in a design or branding agency can significantly contribute to long-term success. Just be sure to choose the right one!

Investing in high-quality design services equips Series A startups with a strong brand identity, enhances user experience, and increases market competitiveness, which, in turn, fosters long-term customer loyalty and significantly boosts the potential for scalable growth and profitability.

author

CEO and Founder of Merge

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

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