How to Prevent Design Debt via a Thought-out Designs QA Process

Igor Netahata

Igor Netahata

Head of the UI/UX Design department at Andersen

UI/UX
Jun 27, 2022
4 minutes to read
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The modern tech business is a fast-paced world. The dominance of narrow sprints based on the Agile methodology, the ascendance of DevOps across multiple sectors, the popularity of the MVP approach, and increased competition urge us to focus on short-term goals. By following all these, companies manage to deliver more innovations on time. However, as always, there is a negative side at play. Its name is design debt. In this piece, we will share some steps you can take to eradicate it while still applying robust and dynamic software development policies and practices.

What design debt is

Once again, design debt is a problem stemming from a hectic software engineering process. Namely, it is generated by a sequence of compromises you have to make while striving to create an MVP and release upgrades and improvements ASAP. As this process progresses, the coherent UI/UX and captivating design you envisioned inevitably start to degrade. The integrity gradually deteriorates, user journeys become haphazard and illogical, experimentally introduced elements begin to conflict.

Briefly speaking, design debt is a mess brought about by little flaws, irregularities, and errors accrued after each sprint. Taken together, they will - sooner rather than later - reach a critical mass. As a result, your solution might become ugly and irritate your users. The worst thing is that you may be well aware of the fact that this issue exists and is assuming menacing proportions. At the same time, you can’t afford to fix this issue due to your packed schedule, lack of time, and insufficient resources.

How common is this issue? There is no definitive answer to this question. All we have are estimates. For example, a 2015 study indicated that design debt was “the most common type of self-admitted technical debt,” ranging from 42% to 84%.

This problem is not only very common but also quite costly. According to another 2018 study covering 15 large entities, “the cost of managing technical debt in large software organizations is estimated to be, on average, 25% of the whole development time” (as we have already stressed, design debt is the most important part of technical debt).

UI/UX design: some figures and facts to reflect on

You may ask a question: if the product I offer is viable and can solve users’ problems, why should I care about my design debt so much? After all, is it really so important? The answer is yes, it is.

  • Depending on a particular situation, as a recent estimate shows, every dollar spent on UI/UX may generate an ROI (return on investment) between 2 and 100 dollars.
  • According to PWC, 32% of all customers would cease to deal with their favorite brand at all after even a single bad customer experience.
  • Toptal cites the following figure: up to 90% of users are ready to stop using an application because of its inadequate performance.
  • Another important indicator is provided by Statista: did you know that, on average, a quarter of all mobile apps downloaded between 2010 and 2019 were used only once after being downloaded?

All these figures should not come as a surprise. Every tech professional possesses certain background knowledge in this respect. We can all confirm, with confidence, that:

  • proper UI/UX is capable of boosting user engagement;
  • good UI/UX is a must in today’s mobile-dominated-and-driven environment;
  • well-thought-out UI/UX increases customer loyalty and contributes to the brand value;
  • finally, UI/UX simply raises conversion rates - from visitors to users and from users to standing customers.

What is design QA versus design debt?

A proper design QA process may serve as a response to the design debt challenge. One has to realize that it is not a panacea. The tech industry landscape will inevitably create a certain amount of tech debt for you, including design. That is how the world functions right now. But the design QA process will help you control and manage this problem, which is already an advantage per se.

Design QA is an intermediary stage you need to introduce between a regular round of development and a subsequent testing session. Basically speaking, you need your designer and one of your developers to work together at this stage, so that:

  • your designer can examine the upcoming update;
  • if any concerns emerge, your designer will share them with your coder who’s qualified enough to review the code;
  • as a result, the code itself can be altered to maintain a proper UI/UX level.

Another great tip is to involve your developers in the designing process. This may be an internal organizational challenge, but you may benefit from such a step. For example, your engineers and designers would be in the right position to:

  • analyze the requirements associated with upcoming upgrades before these improvements are made to specify all the necessary tech details for making the right decisions;
  • reflect on the state of UI/UX together;
  • exchange feedback.

If you do so, you will be more likely to detect and identify the most common weak spots:

  • visual issues;
  • malfunctions;
  • overall bugs.

Conclusion: UI/UX, design QA, and Andersen

We at Andersen know that UI/UX matters. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have invested so much time and effort into our famous UI/UX Design Studio. Among other things, we are always happy to offer our UI/UX Audit. With UI/UX Audit, you will quickly understand the current state of your design debt reflected by various drawbacks.

To name a few benefits of cooperating with Andersen, our experts can provide you with the following advantages:

  • UI/UX services: research and benchmarking, wireframing and prototyping, web and app design and redesign, and AR/VP proposals.
  • Design QA - a series of thorough reviews to “scan” your design solutions and concepts together with repeated and multipath simulated interactions, etc.
  • UI/UX Audit: solution-specific business analysis and immersion; identification of weaknesses, gaps, and flawed user journeys; evidence-supported advice and recommendations.

If you want to solve a problem, your first step is to identify and understand it. Normally, a fresh view is an extremely helpful factor in this respect. Contact us to obtain such a fresh perspective.

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Igor Netahata, Head of the UI/UX Design department at Andersen