Designing Digital Product Without User Data

Designing Digital Products Without User Research

Rus Anderson Consulting, Design, UI/UX Leave a Comment

Often, we are approached by startups and established companies with an idea for a new product. Just as often, there is little to no user base from which to conduct research. This could be due to it being a new idea with no users, an addition to an existing product, or the budget only allows for a minimum viable product to test the demand for a complete product.

We could just start building the product and push it out and hope for the best, but without some thought on the user and usability of the product, even the best solutions will fail.

In this blog, we’ll look at how to understand the product, its potential users, and how to create the application with little to no user data.

Understand the Idea

First, we must learn where the idea came from and the intent of the product. One way to do this is to conduct an interview with the stakeholders to find out what sparked the idea, as well as their vision for the final product. We need to know the target audience and how it will solve the user’s problem.


Personas are made-up people you are building the product for. Creating a persona helps to focus on the user and how they will interact with the product. For instance, if you’re creating a shoe shopping app you would create a persona and imagine the challenges that persona might face or advantages they may have when using your app. While not a perfect tool, it can help keep the user in mind while creating the application.

Competitive Research

Once we understand the idea, it’s important to look for similar products to do some research on competitors. If we do find something similar, we want to investigate if those features are already part of that product. If they are, we want to figure out whether they are solving the user’s problem. Sometimes a product already exists but may not be successful if it is difficult to use. We can use this research to determine the fail points and create a better product.


Next, we’ll want to start thinking about how the user will navigate the product and all the screens involved. This includes close consideration of each screen and all the interactions on that screen, where we will create wireframes to plan where each element will live on the page.

From the wireframes, we can create high-fidelity mockups that include the final look and feel of each page of the product.

Side note: Keyhole designed a tool that can help you build wireframes called MockOla. Check it out through the innovation arm of Keyhole, KeyholeSoftware.Dev!

Interactive Prototypes

Interactive prototypes are created to get a “feel” for how elements work within the application. These prototypes can be used as a low-cost method for getting user feedback on features that may be confusing or lacking in some sort. Most of the time, these users are stakeholders and internal team members, so the cost of hiring testers is minimal to none.

Build, Launch, and Test

Finally, after the prototype is approved, we build the product and launch it. This is where the best user information can be gathered. We can also utilize analytics tools such as Google Analytics, or heat mapping tools like HotJar to track the user’s interactions on each page and contact users directly to ask for feedback.

The Takeaway

Understanding your user is critical to the success of your product, but not having existing users or user data shouldn’t stop you from building the next killer product. With the right experienced team, you can build the product and test it with minimal investment. Following these steps should set you on the right path to building a successful product and impressing your client. Making improvements should also be a breeze now that your product has proven successful. Leave a comment below if you found these tips helpful!

For more information on how to nail the design process, check out another blog from Keyhole’s Rus Anderson, “Why You Need a UI/UX Designer on Your Dev Team.”

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