10 May 2017 How can you Recognize and Reduce the UX Debt of your Website?
Most websites start suffering from user experience debt as they grow old. It is a cumulative effect of cutting corners due to lack of time,...
Most websites start suffering from user experience debt as they grow old. It is a cumulative effect of cutting corners due to lack of time, money, expertise or other resources as well as technical constraints that create a hurdle in improving usability. Most website owners do not want to ‘waste time’ in carrying out usability studies to understand the areas of concerns and finding out solutions to the problems. As a result, the debt keeps building up.
Like it or not but as the UX debt of your website grows, your business interests would start suffering as well and your website will see a much lower conversion rate. The problem with user experience debt is that it is hard to recognize and pinpoint the cause(s). There could be a single factor or multiple factors, and fixing them may sometimes be very difficult as some of the problems are inherent to a particular website, being present from the time when it was first designed. Trying to fix the problem(s) would amount to changing the whole architecture of the website, which is often an unviable solution.
There are two types of user experience debts.
- Intentional UX debt – Sometimes, in the rush of business, you may have to take a few decisions without deliberating properly. It could be due to lack of resources or a genuine lack of will. Whatever the reason, these shortcomings are generally avoidable in nature. Do not ignore them because sooner or later, your users will notice these lacunae and your debt to them will grow.
- Unintentional UX debt – There are also times when you would not realize that you are making a poor decision because you do not know what your user actually wants. You may have created your website based on a survey and after closely scrutinizing the current trends. However, trends change so fast in the digital world and the needs of your users will keep shifting as well. An unintentional UX debt is created when you fail to factor in these probabilities.
How will you manage the debt?
Managing the debt is more difficult than you imagine at first because a lot of the problems here are subjective and there is no universal language or a standard parameter against which you can test the problems. However, you will have to at least recognize and quickly resolve the intentional UX debt issues. Communicate with your team about the need of solving these and how you plan to progress. Connect with your users and carry usability studies frequently. You may try A/B testing every once in a while to understand the pulse of your users. Keep a track of the latest best practices but keep enough room in your design so that any future changes can also be incorporated without a massive overhaul.