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Build with Confidence: How to Validate Your Next Big Idea with UX research
Getting On Track To Building Something People Want
Welcome to Designing Futures. I’m Josh and every week I simplify and share practical design and UX guides for Indie hackers, founders and product teams on taking ideas from zero to one.
🗞️ Writing is Design: How to Speak Your User's Language and Boost Conversion
Taking an idea from concept to reality without understanding your customers is like assembling a puzzle without looking at the picture on the box. You might get there eventually, but it's going to be risky, time-consuming, and costly.
In this article, we’ll walk through some straightforward steps to help you feel confident you're building something that people want.
It’s the 'picture on the box' instructions for your next big idea.
Why is this important?
One of the biggest skill gaps we see in the tech-industry, is problem discovery.
We are all naturally creative, and when we have that shiny new idea, we get excited and want to begin bringing it into the world immediately.
This is in fact an incredible skill. The ability to take something that was once just a thought, and literally will it into existence for others to use or see, is magical.
Creating and developing an idea on your own can attract an audience who finds it valuable. However, the most impactful ideas truly come to life when they're nurtured through collaboration.
The best ideas grow with others.
The best ideas address unmet needs for specific people. Understanding them and being customer-centric from the start is crucial for a few reasons:
✅ You gain immediate insights into what your target audience actually needs.
✅ You're more likely to create a product that resonates with people.
✅ Spending time listening to others can attract early supporters who become your first customers and advocates (I experienced this firsthand with this newsletter).
Whilst the tweet is impressive, it was his replies to other Indie developers in the comments, expressing the need to be customer-centric, which I think is worth it’s weight in gold.
Lukas shares the importance of how knowing your customer is key. He spent time in the beginning drilling down on who they are, what their needs are, and sharing content that helped him to learn about them.
Here’s another example from, with a similarly great reply from Viktor Nagornyy.
Step 1 - Build conversations, before products
“Building is secondary to delivering value” -
If you have an idea, or even just a thought that you want to explore, the next step is determining what you need to learn about its potential audience.
By spending time speaking with potential users before developing your idea, you set the stage for growth.
What do you want to learn?
Identify gaps in your knowledge that could inform your idea's viability. For example, when I first had the idea for this newsletter, I noticed a gap in the market for practical design and UX advice, specifically for early-stage founders and Indie hackers.
To validate this, I spoke to this audience to understand their specific challenges.
🕵️ I needed to learn:
How much are design and user experience skills an issue for them?
When do these challenges arise?
What are their specific pain points? For example: running user tests, improving overall experience, or refining the UI.
Go where your customers go
After figuring out what the top aspects are that you need to learn more about, the natural next step is to figure out where your potential customers hang out.
In an online world, the intuitive decision is to go Twitter (…X), LinkedIn etc. But try and have a good think about other places that they may go: e.g. Niche subreddits, coffee shops, forums, or industry events.
How to speak to customers
Once you’ve figured out where they are, it’s time to talk to them!
In principle, you want to ask open-ended questions which allow them to provide you open answers.
When I initially had the idea for this newsletter, I asked a very simple question on the r/startups subreddit, to both build conversation, and strengthen my articulation of the problem space.
What I shouldn’t have done is ask such a direct and closed question at the end “Is this a problem for you?” These typically generate “Yes, no, maybe” responses that don’t provide you many insights. But, I was in the heat of the moment and wasn’t properly wearing my UX research hat, my creative hat was suck on too tight.
It would have been much better for me to say “What kind of design and UX difficulties have you faced when building your startup in the past?“
Whilst these are only simple signals, it gave me initial confidence that my audience are experiencing problems that I feel I can add value to, by simplifying my expertise into practical guides.
Whilst it’s always better to speak to people in person (online or offline), this async approach did help give me some small and immediate validation to get the wheels turning.
💬 Tips for speaking to customers:
Use open-ended questions: 'Can you describe your process?' or 'Tell me about a time when...'
Be authentic: People crave authenticity, and this fosters trust and openness.
Be transparent: Share your ideas and findings, encouraging clear feedback in return.
If you want a further in-depth guide on user interviews, or great questions that yield the best insights for your product or ideas, drop me an email and I’ll make a start.
Step 2 - Find your core insight
“Product creators like to think of what’s possible: They dream about how introducing their product into the market might change the world. This is an appropriate framing — as long as it comes with a bit of humble pie. New products don’t succeed because of the wide breadth of features they provide. Facebook isn’t successful because it allows people to build groups, host events or post photos of their dogs. Instead, Facebook is successful because of one core insight: People want to connect with their friends and family online. You can’t have 20 insights and be successful — you must have just one.” - Gagan Biyani, co-founder and CEO at Maven.
Gagan wrote a great and in-depth article called The Minimum Viable Testing Process for Evaluating Startup Ideas, in which he share an excellent truth. Early-stage startups need to understand one core insight about who they are building for in order to move forward.
Through conversations with potential customers, aim to identify a single, unambiguous truth that drives your idea. For Facebook, it boiled down to people's desire to connect with friends and family.
If you’re interested in this topic and want to dive deeper, Gagan will teach you in his article how to test the riskiest assumptions about your startup idea.
Spot the patterns
As you collect insights over time, recurring themes will emerge. It's tempting to act on individual feedback, but that can lead to skewed perspectives.
This is a tricky balance to strike with intuition, but the most important insights will get more obvious over time.
Step 3 - Find willing collaborators
As you build conversations, the next step is to start gathering these customers into a single place, whether an email list, a dedicated subreddit, or an early-access platform.
Andy Budd recently wrote a great thread on why startup waitlists for can be problematic. This isn’t because they’re ineffective, in-fact they are a great way for you to find willing collaborators which will help you continue to evolve, shape and nurture your idea into a successful product.
What makes them problematic is that so many founders treat them as a sales list, rather than a collaborative community with users.
Step 4 - Co-create with your community
The best ideas grow with others.
Make your email list, audience or small community a place of creative collaboration, a place to nurture ideas and let users evolve your product with you.
Help them to see your vision, or what you’re working towards. Once you feel more confident in the direction, go to Mobbin to get inspired, sketch your thoughts, and create a prototype in no-code, some code, or Figma to bring it to life.
Starting with conversations ensures you're not only building your idea right, but building the right idea.
Build conversations, before products
Customer conversations can lead to early-collaborators and fans
Go to where your customers hang out
Ask open-ended questions to gather the best insights
Find your core insight
The best ideas grow with others
See you next week,
Josh (@joshuanewton1) 🔮
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