Eliminate UX Debt — Improving Consistency & Usability — Part 2

Strategies for Spotting UX Debt

Knowing the source of UX debt is an important first step — and you don’t need to schedule a special meeting or phase of the project to begin identifying issues. It’s something you can accomplish in parallel with your normal activities.

Create and Validate a UX Debt Inventory

Whether you’re at the receiving end of an incoming product acquisition or coming into the team as a new hire, corralling UX debt starts with discovering what you’re up against. And that means conducting an inventory.

  • Findability
  • Accessibility
  • Clarity of Communication
  • Usefulness
  • Credibility
  • Learnability
  • Overall Aesthetics
  • Persuasive Design

Practice Peripheral Awareness

Anytime you interact with the product, continually scan for issues that may have escaped notice. Do this in your peripheral awareness, meaning focus on the task at hand, but keep your sensors on in the background, just in case something catches your attention.

Be Aware of Your Blind Spots

Outside of the product, think about what design practices could create debt.

Schedule Regular Time With Users

In his article Fast Path to a Great UX — Increased Exposure Hours, Jared Spool explains that the more time your team spends with users, the better your end product. He also says that companies that intentionally include everyone — not just the UX team, but developers, managers, etc. — have better results.

Conclusion

Once you’ve inventoried all of your UX debt, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. “How in the world are we going to get rid of all this debt?!” This is a perfectly normal reaction. It won’t seem nearly as bad once you’ve planned an approach to deal with it.

Addressing UX Debt

You know you have debt. You’ve identified it. You’ve classified it. Now, what are you going to do about it?

Step 1: Prioritization

Your debt must be prioritized so that it can be addressed in phases.

Step 2: Schedule

After prioritizing your debt, the next step is to work with product management to get it into your release schedule.

Design process at Kaplan Test Prep.

Conclusion

Most importantly, we address UX debt through collaboration.

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