Elena Sanchez is a UX Design Lead at MYOB, Google Expert in UX/Product Strategy and Certified Design Sprint Master based in Melbourne (Australia). She is passionate about design leadership, building more human-centred organisations and fostering collaboration across different disciplines. She has more than 9 years of experience working in UX across Europe, US and Australia. She received a Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction in 2010, has participated in HCI research projects, enjoys teaching UX courses, workshops, and often speaks at UX events and conferences.
After working with a startup in a relatively new product (3 years old) and a large corporate with a software product that has been in the market for more than 20 years, I was puzzled by how they could have accumulated similar amounts of UX debt.
Today’s culture of lean startup and experimentation is great if what you are trying to do is learn and decide what you need to build, but as Nick Finck pointed out, too many organisations are abusing it by shipping MVPs without any intention to learn or iterate on them, just to cut corners.
The result is products with large amounts of UX debt without any plan to repay that debt, just to keep building on top of it until it becomes unmanageable and you need to rebuild the whole platform (a problem lots of teams are facing after only 2-3 years).
In my opinion, UX debt goes far beyond visual consistency (2 buttons not using the same layout or react component) and includes any suboptimal design solutions, inconsistencies or defects that negatively affect the experience of your users and it’s often caused by business, technical, time or budget constraints. It grows exponentially over time, if unchecked, and it doesn’t only affect your customers but makes your designers and developers' lives harder, and have a negative impact in the efficiency, morale and quality of their work.