Whether you hire professional help or take the DIY approach, customer research and user testing should be incorporated as early as possible. Customer research removes stress, prevents guessing, and allows your team to find product-market fit faster.

When should we “do the UX thing?”

Some questions keep coming up in the security startup community, or really the startup world in general. One of those questions is, “When should a security product company get professional user interface and user experience design help?” 

Based on past engagements with security companies, there are three common milestones for hiring UX professionals. There is the concept phase, the product-market fit phase, and the scale up phase. 

Examples are powerful for understanding, so we’ve provided a security client we’ve worked with in each phase.

1. The Concept Phase

Example: Sevco Security ← Read the full case study


JJ Guy has a great sense of customer experience as a serial security founder. He had a strong vision for the problem Sevco could solve, and knew he wanted to involve UX design early.

UX Approach:

Because we began so early in the process, we were able to move very quickly with the Sevco team. We were able to go from concept to first paying customer in 90 days.


  • Accelerate from concept to first customers
  • Pivot early with little investment
  • Assure potential customers and funders of the product's capabilities
  • Approach problems differently from an engineering-minded team with a UX designer
  • Construct a solid foundation with a user-researched, solid design system
  • Relieve anxiety that you are building the wrong thing


  • Experienced UI/UX can be a significant investment
  • More people to manage (especially if you hire first)
  • Without a clear vision for the problem you are solving, the design team could solve the wrong problem

2. The Product-market Fit Phase

Example: Aembit Security ← Read the full case study


Aembit’s development team built the first version of their product with an off-the-shelf UI framework. After positive feedback on their MVP, they were eager to redesign their interface before making a public release and raising more funding.

UX Approach:

We dug into the task of overhauling the existing user flow. User testing revealed several things the team had done well, but customers were missing how the different elements were connected. We unified the workflow and created a design system to release new features faster.


  • Delaying the investment in UX design opens up the budget in other areas
  • Audit of the initial product allows for testing and feedback before making changes and investment
  • The founding team can conduct some of the user research
  • These reps will make them stronger team members later


  • User research might be over-looked in the formative stages of the product
  • Could delay reaching Product-Market fit phase

3. The Scale-up Phase

Example: Carbon Black ← Read the full case study


Before CarbonBlack became a unicorn, they were a late-stage start-up. They were beginning to scale quickly, adding new features and products left and right. However, with no product designers on staff, the existing UX/UI was suffering immensely from lack of proper attention. 

UX Approach:

Realizing the compounding effects of this, we were charged with modernizing and bringing order and consistency to the entire UI. Simultaneously, we also added new features and products. Due to the existing flow and framework, there were significant constraints on how much we could change.

Obviously, the strong team at Carbon Black was able to overcome a lack of UX focus in the early stages of their product and scale quickly once UX design was incorporated.


  • Saves money in the pre-seed and early stage
  • Rapid prototyping can happen early without investing in detailed designs
  • Discover and test features before bringing in design to create cohesion


  • Without user research, your risk developing features customers don’t care about
  • Development moves slower without a design system
  • Changes in design and front end development are complex and costly at this point
  • Significant technical debt because the product was designed by an engineer

All comes down to this

If you ask your favorite AI service “When should a cybersecurity startup should get professional UX help?” your answer will be something like “as soon as possible.” 

But the real answer depends on the strengths of your team. The best product founders understand that good UX is how the product works. So, if your team is willing do early customer research, prototyping, and user testing, then there are tons of online resources to guide you through the process. 

If you have more time than money, then you’ll have a stronger team by taking the DIY approach. 

If you want to move faster, then consider investing in UX help early.

Trying to decide when to incorporate UX/UI into your team? 

Set up a free (100% no-pitch) strategy call with our CEO, William.

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