Amlan Sarkar

Eliminate UX debt: The secret behind seamless user experience

Factors responsible for accumulation of UX debt

In our earlier article, we discussed the basic concepts of UX debt and methods to identify the same. In this article, we will discuss the ways and means to avoid the accumulation of UX debt.

Identifying the sources of UX debt

The first important step to address the issue is to identify the sources of UX debt generation. There are a host of factors that induce UX debt. These factors can be broadly enumerated as follows:

  • Evading user testing
  • Ignoring set brand standards and style guidelines
  • Involvement of too many opinions
  • Wrong interpretation of the product vision
  • Lack of understanding between the stakeholders
  • Faulty documentation
  • Unnecessary merger with other products
  • Inadequate quality testing
  • Delayed response to fixing problems

Identifying and prioritizing UX debt

Once the factors that cause UX debt are identified, the next step is to prioritize the issues. Unless your design agency is too large and complex in nature, the method of putting the UX debt items directly into the backlog works well. However, any small design agency should possess a well-organized backlog redressal mechanism that precisely indicates the severity of the issue which further helps in the prioritization process.

Using the discussed BRM, design agencies can review their list of technical and UX debt items waiting to be revalidated. Once the list is prepared they can use a comprehensive prioritization process so as to identify the UX debt items that need immediate attention. Thereafter, these items can be handled one after another, according to their priority. Such clearance of the UX backlog is to be done before launching any new feature or functionality. Make sure you use the same severity indicators for all the UX debt items listed in your backlog clearance process. The method will ultimately help in quantifying the accumulated debt.

It is observed that making an existing feature usable is more desirable than launching a new feature. Inferior UX is akin to a non-existent feature. That is why when you fix an existing faulty feature, it amounts to adding a new feature. UX problems with inherent shortcomings should be prioritized for rectification over any new features. This is because an old feature is essentially more valuable than a new one and deficiencies of any feature are generally resolved in order of their expected benefit.

How can larger organizations tackle UX debt with ease?

In case the design agency is very large with a complex backlog of UX debt, it is advisable to use a spreadsheet to organize and prioritize the issues involved. This method will prevent designers from getting overawed by the sheer amount of backlog of UX debt items. It also ensures no items are overlooked among the vast list of product-backlog items. The prioritization of UX debt items for clearance should be in consonance with the product vision, the team workload, and in accordance with the perspective of the user.

What to include in your UX debt spreadsheet?

The following factors usually cause the maximum discontent with respect to user experience. These factors should be included in the spreadsheet.

  • The users’ point of view regarding the issue i.e. how is it affecting them?
  • At what stage of user experience does the issue occur? The awareness stage, consideration stage or conversion stage?
  • The rate of recurrence.
  • Who detected and reported the issue among the users, stakeholders, and team members?
  • The intensity of effort required to fix the issue. The intensity of effort can be determined from a number of factors viz. manpower required, time dedicated to fix the issue, etc.

You have to assign a value to each of the above factors. Determine the dimension of the user value of each such issue by using a prioritization matrix in the form of a scatter plot. Such a visualization process will help you in prioritizing the issues. The process will also help you in communicating the progress of UX debt payback to all the stakeholders in a time-bound manner.

A consolidated perspective

The issue of UX debt is fairly large and complicated. It requires a comprehensive study to become conversant with all the related facets of UX debt. However, it is worth mentioning here that you cannot disregard UX debt altogether. The costs associated with looking back and fixing old issues are always higher than launching the product with ideal solutions. However, it is important to alleviate the concerns of the users who had to go through inferior quality of user experience. It is also important not to waste more time, resources, and efforts while undertaking the cleaning up the operation of UX debt.

We, at Team CoDesign, don’t let debt tear us apart. Our team of professionals ensure that all kinds of debt, be it UX or tech, are dealt with promptly. Such quick resolutions enable us to provide our clients with a seamless user experience. If you are looking for a seamless UX design for your website, quickly get in touch with us.