Early UX was founded by Allison Milchling. Allison has over 8 years of product design experience tackling complex workflows with early-stage teams and creating design-driven growth.

Allison has seen the negative impact when design is excluded from the beginning of a project - from team turnover to costly reworks.

Currently a team of one, Allison created Early UX so a wider breadth of businesses can access a solid design foundation without hiring in-house.

Early UX’s goal is to confidently and quickly transform new ideas to great ideas through the power of a solid product design foundation.

The process

1. Discovery

Establish the required foundation of rich contextualization through team and product onboarding via interviews and audit. Research phase includes both competitor and user focuses.

Possible deliverables:

  • Audit inventory
  • Research summary document
  • Personas
  • Prioritized pain points & insights
  • Competitive landscape report

2. Strategy

Formulate and validate the hypothesis while gaining alignment with the team. The starting point of the iterative prototyping process is defined through information architecture and user flow documentation.

Possible deliverables:

  • Hypothesis
  • Prototype scope proposal
  • IA documentation
  • User flows
  • EPD design culture best practices

3. Build

Iterative prototyping with continual feedback cycles yields a confident solution. A final design spec is delivered for formal implementation.

Possible deliverables:

  • Wireflows
  • Interactive prototype iterations resulting in mid-high fidelity
  • User testing report
  • Design system
  • Design spec hand-off with video annotations


Why do you emphasize “early” product design?

Early UX exists because we believe a lot of product “growing pains” can be avoided with good product design. For new products, a pattern that is all too common is for an unclear vision to be quickly and poorly translated to code. This is followed up with a significant amount of time and resources being spent repeatedly backtracking until alignment is reached or money runs out. 

Early product design is an alternative where product design is present early, at the beginning of a project. The presence of design culture brings a structure where projects move through discovery, strategy, and iteration. The early application of growth design steers businesses in a sustainable direction from the start. Early product design makes sense of ambiguity and provides solutions that evolve faster with less dramatic speed bumps. When product design is present at the beginning, stakeholders are much better aligned to reach success together.

What is "growth" design?

“Growth design” is often just a buzzword. Early UX defines it as a practice of high impact strategies and tactics related to getting to know users, acquiring users, and (most importantly) creating strong retention of those users. Instead of focusing on core feature development, growth design works to make deeper, data-informed user connections to the current value.

While feature development is the biggest growth lever for the early stage of a product life cycle, many companies get stuck there. By viewing early projects through a lens of growth design from the beginning, the later transition into growth practices like retention optimization become frictionless, driving company maturity and financial gains.

Can you help me with my design system?

Yes! Design systems are a focus area for Early UX. It is very common for a design system to be deprioritized or left in incomplete states. Early UX can pick up where you left off, gain alignment on a design system, complete documentation, and work with engineering on a component library and migration.

What industries do you specialize in?

The product design framework Early UX adheres to is applicable to all industries, but complex workflows are the specialty. These spaces include b2b/enterprise, financial services, healthcare, insurance, legal, legacy systems, machine learning/ai, project management, and nonprofits.

Do you only work with startups?

No, early product design is for the beginning of any project, not just young companies. Individuals, stealth mode and pre-seed startups, early-stage startups, late stage startups and public companies are all embarking on new ideas. Whether an idea is in an innovation lab, experimentation department, scrum team or a group of enthusiastic friends, Early UX is happy to hear about your product.

Why only short-term contracts?

Early UX’s service offerings were designed to make a big business impact within a short amount of time. Short term contract offerings are designed to be as impactful as having an in-house designer, with pacing and disciplined parameters so that projects have a clean start and end. Jumpstarts require a lesser degree of enmeshment with your team, allowing for fast results that can then be carried out in whatever timeline suits your business. When engagements are just large enough to reach their goals, they create less room for risks like deprioritization, scope creep, and other harmful distractions.

Should my company just hire an in-house product designer?

A great test for figuring out if you are ready for an in-house product designer is first engaging with a contract product designer! But the best answer is “when you’re ready”. Bringing on any new full-time role can feel like a big risk, and finding the right first designer can be challenging. In-house product designers are with your company in a deeper, longer term capacity so their problem solving can reach nooks and crannies often deprioritized by contract projects.

Is Early UX a design agency?

No, Early UX is not an agency. Currently Early UX is a team of one, Allison Milchling.

Does Early UX do branding? Website design?

Early UX does not take on marketing or visual design projects like branding and web design. Early UX specializes in digital product design, which is solving user needs through the process of researching, testing, and designing relevant solutions. Final solutions index on conventional, reusable patterns and are based on existing or simple visual styles. They do not include visual redesigns. Files utilize local design systems making for easy hand-off to visual designers.

Why do you have sliding scale pricing?

Early UX exists to extend product design expertise to a wider range of businesses. In order to reach that goal while sustaining a business, companies that have attributes that tend to be advantages in the conventional tech landscape will be quoted at a higher rate.

Ready to talk about your product?

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