Firat Parlak says that without this one thing, you’ll “spend twice the money” to build your product.

Firat, founder of UI/UX design company Awesome, also says that “nine out of ten startups fail” because they don’t have it.

So what is it? The right process for developing your user experience, which is what customers see when they use your product and how they interact with it.

In fact, Firat used his process to help one client get more than 336,000 users in just a few months.

In his Mixergy course, Firat shows you how he does it. Here are three strategies you’ll learn in the course.

1. Don’t Go Overboard

You have to talk to customers, but talking to them for too long is a big mistake.

“The first question we ask our clients is ‘how long have you been working on this project?’” says Firat. “If they say…a year-and-a-half or six months…and it’s going to take you maybe three or four months to develop this app…[their customer data] is not valuable.”

That’s because the market changes, meaning you can’t “depend on your information that you collected six months ago and apply that to user interface design,” he says.

So how do you quickly collect all of the customer feedback you need?

Get in and get out

When talking to customers, be effective and keep it short.

Firat recommends a casual meeting. “Show them that you are really interested in their ideas and value their opinion, and show them some sketches,” he says. “This is not intensive market research, just understand what the needs are of the consumer that you are talking to.”

For instance, one of his clients, Dog Amigo, did customer research by visiting local dog parks and asking dog owners to fill out a 15-question survey. “They had a paper which was just checks,” says Firat. “It was quick.”

2. Get a Glimpse of the Future

glimpseIt’s impossible to predict a winning UI.

“Whatever we think, it’s not always right,” says Firat. “What you put together sometimes is not what [customers] are looking for. They’re like, ‘I don’t understand this, what it does.’ So that’s a red flag.”

And you need to spot those red flags before you build anything. “Actually launching it and coming back and changing things is a lot harder, and it will cost you more,” says Firat.

So how do you get feedback before your product is even built?

Give them an interactive prototype

Make an interactive version of your design, then watch customers use it.

Firat recommends the tool to make your designs interactive and allow users to actually click on your designs and get a feel for the product. “The focus here is to understand how your user is engaging with your products,” he says. “Were they able to figure out that icon? You thought it was so obvious, but when you give it to somebody else, they can’t find it as quickly as you did. So you go back to the drawing board and make that better.”

3. Do a Little Espionage

When you’re developing a product, you have to do research. But you don’t have to start at square one. In fact, it’s better to look at what’s already being done, which gives you “more metrics and information,” says Firat.

“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel…looking at what [is already being done] and doing something better, is the approach you should have,” he says.

So how do you avoid reinventing the wheel?

Review their homework

Look at your competitors’ research.

“[Your competitors] already did their homework,” says Firat. “They already amassed their resources, and it’s important to look at and understand that.”

To do that, he turns to Dribbble. “Dribbble is actually not only a platform to showcase your designs, but also designer process and progress,” he says. “So you can see what your competitors are doing by searching similar ideas, similar products, and see how they’re approaching their user experience.”

Written by April Dykman. Production notes by Jeremy Weisz.

If you need more, Toptal has a UI guide that can help.