• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

Design And The Mobile Startup: Advice From Foodspotting’s Alexa Andrzejewski

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UX Designer and Foodspotting Founding CEO Alexa gives advice on building beautiful mobile designs.

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

The SXSW panel on the importance of design in the mobile startup hosted Alexa Andrzejewski of Foodspotting.

The UX designer found her first angel investor with mockups on a deck she presented at Women 2.0′s Startup Weekend.

She shares advice and her own startup lessons learned on the panel:

  • “When we launched Foodspotting at South By, we had zero photos. Now there are 1.5 million photos of dishes around the world.”
  • “…Foodspotting shifted from this typical reviews app to this visual local guide that it is today. It’s becoming a defining characteristic.”
  • “The most important thing a designer-founder can do at a startup is to communicate a vision for the thing you are trying to create… When I communicate the idea, my team can make that idea real. But if I don’t take the time to really communicate what that ideal solution would be, chances are it won’t happen. Thinking about the ideal solution is with all the use cases. One of my favorite quotes from angel investor David Shen said is, ‘Don’t tell me what you can build today. Tell me what the ideal solution could be.’ Before I started wireframing or prototyping anything, I made a one-page poster that summarized all the ideas that I had for Foodspotting in 11×17 and I sketched the ideal solutions to problems I described. I had an idea for a radar-like thing where you could put your phone in your pocket and have an ice cream detector on and it would buzz in your pocket whenever you passed ice cream so you could jump off and get it.”
  • “It’s not just about the visual design or aesthetics that’s gotten higher. Designers of apps are now creating experiences that we’ve never been able to have before. Being able to rent out your house or apartment – that’s an experience nobody was able to really have before, and AirBnB did such a great job with that. The visual supports that because it makes it as easy as booking a hotel. It’s something that my mom could consider doing, and it’s this new experience they enabled for mobile.”
  • “There is a lot of talk in the lean startup about measuring every little thing you do. There is definitely value in that kind of optimization, but if you focus on the details you may lose the big vision – the vision. A lot of times, user feedback will be coming from super users and power users who are not the average users. It’s important to balance user feedback with the vision for your startup and never pivot away from your vision. Pivot how you do it based on user feedback but stick to that vision you are trying to solve.”
  • “Some people complain because apps take you out of the experience in the moment. We did try to design it so you don’t have to post pictures of food on the spot. But at the same time, having these apps makes the conversations… together… they augment conversations – we design to make it easy enough, to enhance the experience.”

Watch the whole panel at the video below:

About the writer: Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the “+1″ for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.