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Startups Should Code Later, Experiment Now

Code Always Seems Like the Answer

Code is what drives of developer-heavy SaaS startup team. Most of the answers we seek are in the code we already have or in writing more code. So when someone like lean startup expert Grace Ng advises us to test product concepts with a few web pages and a web form (read: NO CODE), we're less than enthusiastic.

In just a few hours, we could mock-up something much closer to our intended user experience. In just a few day, our mock-up would start to resemble its future implementation. In just a few weeks, we could have a beta! You see where this is going. Once you begin building a product or a feature, it's difficult to stop the "progress" and test. Racking up those lines of code is the kind of forward momentum most startups would trade for the caffeine inventory.

Truth: Code Isn't Always the Answer

Uncaffeinated mornings just aren't worth it. It's easy enough to validate your startup product ideas before you start coding, and Ng provides a step-by-step guide to doing just that. Hands off that keyboard, team.

Think of the web page plus web form approach as a "quick and dirty" minimum viable product (MVP). Ng describes it like this:[blockquote author="Grace Ng" style="s1"]Instead of building a functioning marketplace with designer portfolios and payment functionality, or even wireframing anything, I simply set up a landing page with a price tag in the call to action to test whether visitors were willing to pay. This is called a pitch experiment.[/blockquote]

That doesn't sound so bad, right? In fact, this approach opens up a new realm of possibility for product testing. Does your team have any of those product ideas that have been around for a long time, the ones that people keep bringing up despite long discussion? Stop discussing and start testing.

Today We Learned from Grace Ng

We highly recommend you read Ng's entire article, "A Guide to Validating Product Ideas with Quick and Simple Experiments."

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