Should you lean on data or intuition at your startup?


I’ll admit that I lean more toward intuition than data, but I’m starting to think that’s a mistake. In all the articles I’ve read about great design and UX, there are few references to data-driven decision-making. So why do so many of my favorite designers avoid this approach? Is it possible that relying too much on data can make us lazy? And how can we use our intuition even more effectively if we rely on data less often? Here are a few things all designers should understand in order to be effective, no matter whether they trust their intuition or data analysis most.

Data-Driven Design Decisions

In any business, data-driven design decisions are essential to understanding the market, your users and your competitors. The team at Uber created a microsite called “Transport Design Toolkit” which is an excellent example of how a company can use data to inform design decisions.

Uber's Transport Design Toolkit gives you a snapshot of what type of cars are being used in certain areas of the city during certain times of the day. This helps them make informed decisions on where to expand into new cities based on what types of vehicles people need most at that time:

Intuition-Driven Design Decisions

As a founder or CEO, you have a lot of factors to consider when making decisions at your startup. You need to ask questions like: Have we done this before? Does it work? How long will it take? What's my gut telling me? And so on. The important thing is that you're always asking the right questions—and getting answers from the right sources.

Just like any other part of a startup, data and intuition are both crucial elements in making smart decisions about design. In fact, they often complement each other nicely when used together properly! Here's how:

  • Use your experience with similar products in the past as a guide for what works and doesn't work for users (data).
  • Use your instinct for what feels right when interacting with new ideas (intuition).
  • Combine these two approaches to get better results faster than either could alone!

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of what makes you feel most equipped to make the right decision.

In the end, it’s a matter of what makes you feel most equipped to make the right decision. When you have a lot of data, it can be tempting to lean on that information when making decisions. But intuition is still important – especially if you’re working with limited resources or time constraints. You need people who are able and willing to go out into the world and explore new ideas based on their own observations and experiences rather than relying strictly on market research and data analysis.

But at the same time, there are certain types of decisions where intuition is not enough: design decisions driven by user experience, for example; or product features that require hard numbers in order for them to function correctly (e.g., how many users does my app need before charging them?). In these cases, it's helpful for entrepreneurs like myself who have both technical knowledge as well as some experience in design thinking methodologies such as ethnography - because these types of projects require both qualitative analysis (such as interviews) combined with quantitative results derived from past behavior patterns among users within similar situations across different demographics etcetera...

Use whatever works for you.

The best solution for your business is the one that works. If you are using data and it’s working, keep on doing that. If intuition works for you, stick with it. The key is to know what tools work best for your needs and stick with them.


At the end of the day, it’s a matter of what makes you feel most equipped to make the right decision. Some people find that using data helps them do that; others prefer following their gut. And many people fall somewhere in the middle. Ultimately, there’s no one “right way” to approach design decisions. But whatever method you choose, the most important thing is to make sure your team is aligned on its goals and priorities for customers before diving into any new project or initiative.

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