UX Debt: Meaning, Impact, and Solutions


As a UI/UX designer or as a product owner,


Have you ever designed products with fast & compromised solutions at the initial stage of product development due to heightened project timelines?


Have you ever got the best solution by user testing at the initial stage of product development? But, later ended up developing something different that is far away from your user testing results, thinking it might be a better solution to the problem?


If yes, then this post is just for you.


We, as UI/UX designers ourselves, got onboarded for multiple UI/UX design projects that had different contexts, different people, and different problems to solve. Throughout our life cycle, we learned a lot about UX debt and found some solutions to overcome it. Hence, we at Ungrammary decided to share our learnings with you to be useful to you.


Let us begin by first understanding,


What exactly is UX debt?


UX debt is the amount of money incurred once the product matures to enhance the user experience by updating or solving any current user issue.


Here, in the below video, Swati Verma gives a clear, detailed idea about UX Debt: Meaning with an example, its impacts & the best solutions to minimize UX debt/debt payoffs.


Impacts of UX Debts


UX debt is inevitable and can have numerous adverse impacts that can be stressful, costly, and extra effort-demanded if not addressed on time. It can shake the three pillars of UX, i.e., platform’s scalability, adaptability, and consistency.


Let me explain how?


1. Scalability:


When it comes to measuring the success of a site/app, user experience makes all the difference.


Let’s understand this with a scenario,


Let’s say you have developed & designed an app under steep timelines to hit the release dates, and post-launch, you observed specific user issues that need your urgent attention. What is the possible thing you would do?


Conduct detailed research and implement the appropriate solution by ensuring that it balances without disturbing the other design modules.


OR


Incorporate fast & easy solutions to eliminate the existing user experience issue and keep the user interest intact.


If I had to bet, you would go with the second option, right?


However, in the long run, when new features have to be added, or any new user issues have to be solved, it becomes more stressful to incorporate additional solutions or make any update as there is little or no room to make more changes. This happens due to multiple quick fixes made earlier, which messes everything & takes a toll on UX, hampering overtime.

2. Adaptability:


The design world is constantly changing, and with the increase in competition, it becomes vital to keep your product updated continuously as per user expectations. This results in making continuous changes & updates at regular intervals of the product life cycle.


The complexity and adaptability cost is incurred when you want the current users to switch or adapt to the new update. However, the time gap between the new change & previous change is the period when your user’s mental model has already adapted to the previous solution.


Thus, to keep your current users engaged & attract new users, different versions have to be maintained by the product development team, i.e., old and new versions for respective customers. At times, this costs you for adaptability & scalability, making it a one huge side effect of UX debt.


3. UX Inconsistency


The repetitive shortcuts, early prioritizing & implementing easy solutions to solve the user issue hampers the existing UX design & makes it inconsistent.


Since the product has multiple modules/features that are interdependent, providing a quick solution to a particular module or feature results in a design imbalance. Generally, a major part of UX is well planned & designed at the development stage while the quick solution is not.


Well, do not worry about the above UX debt impacts; we have got your back!


Here are some best solutions to minimize the UX Debt/ debts payoffs.


From the above, we can understand that UX debt is inevitable, i.e., eliminating it isn't possible, but effectively managing UX debt is the perfect solution to overcome UX Debt.


Here are our suggestions:


1. Maintain a record of all changes made


Create a backlog sheet and enter all the changes you make, which can be easy to refer to when making any future changes. This helps to avoid imbalances in design & reduce future UX glitches.


2. Conduct design sprints


Instead of working hard on just developing new features, it's always wise to conduct a design sprint every quarter, mainly to just fix the existing UX issues. This makes the product more scalable and user friendly.


3. Bring long term solutions


Repetitive shortcuts temporarily solve the UX issue but create several experience issues that would be difficult to provide a solution in the long run. This is indeed difficult, but we highly recommend always avoiding shortcuts and bringing well-planned, balanced long-term solutions. This makes it relaxing for the product development team to introduce new features or solutions over time.


Conclusion:


“Take time for all the things; great haste makes great waste.” - Benjamin Franklin

Always choose scalable solutions by the design framework & keep a regular check on user analytics, which can help you identify any issue and formulate a best-fit plan & solution to overcome that problem before even user notice.


We hope you found this helpful.


Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.











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