TUTCRIS - Tampereen teknillinen yliopisto


From Minimum Viable to Maximum Lovable: Developing a User Experience Strategy Model for Software Startups



KustantajaTampere University of Technology
ISBN (elektroninen)978-952-15-3983-1
ISBN (painettu)978-952-15-3977-0
TilaJulkaistu - 18 elokuuta 2017
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Artikkeliväitöskirja


NimiTampere University of Technology. Publication
ISSN (painettu)1459-2045


Software startups have gained attention by disrupting traditional businesses. As startups operate with scarce resources and under time pressure, efficient business value creation needs to be of the highest priority. Creating superior user experience (UX) is a means for startups to gain competitive edge that is difficult to copy. However, early product development in startups is filled with uncertainty – considering both the characteristics of the product under development and defining its target market. This is a challenge for designing UX, as both product qualities and user groups may drastically change together with the target market. However, scientific literature has not provided knowledge on ways to integrate UX creation as part of new business development (NBD) in software startups.

This thesis contributes primarily to the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). Secondly, it contributes to software engineering, more specifically to human-centered software development. The goal of this doctoral research is to advance the knowledge and practices of software startups and user experience (UX) work. This is done by empirical research of the practices and needs for UX creation of the startups, and based on the gained understanding, by formulating a strategy model for including UX creation as a supporting part in establishing new software business. This compound thesis is based on six publications that result from four empirical studies with software startups. The studies were conducted over a period of two years between 2014 and 2016. The nature of the studies was qualitative and involved data collection from altogether 40 startups, mostly based in Finland but also in eight other countries.

The results suggest that UX work creates value in two ways: both for users and for business development of startups. This research recognized beneficial approaches and practices for UX creation in software startups, such as light-weight UX work methods, adoption of good design solutions from successful products, and an iterative approach to product development. Studying the role of UX in early product design showed how poor UX hinders startups from gaining trustworthy feedback on their product idea, as users concentrate on deficiencies in UX. To ensure sufficient quality of UX, the Minimum Viable UX (MVUX) framework was developed to guide early design decisions in startups.

The main contribution of this thesis is a UX strategy model that proposes UX strategy actions for two stages of startups lifecycle, namely validation of the product idea, and scaling for business growth. Moreover, the UX strategy model consists of UX strategy actions for UX goal setting, user involvement, and design decisions during the two phases. The UX strategy actions aim to ensure reaching minimum viable quality of UX to enable trustworthy validation of a product idea. However, for sustainable business growth and scaling, the model further aims to creating lovable UX that provides competitive advantage. The UX strategy model presents means for focusing UX creation to bringing value both to users and to the startup business.

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