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💨 4 Reasons Why Companies Launch Fast and Sacrifice UX
The world of business has many competing priorities and finite resources. It's all about difficult choices.
As a natural perfectionist, this issue resonates with me on a deep level
Short answer: there are other priorities and constraints that influence decisions.
There is a common belief many people getting into UX design have - every project they'd work on with being perfect and gorgeous (assuming they'd got the skills). And I was no exception.
I was imagining that user needs were the most important thing in the world, and we couldn't sacrifice them. In retrospect, I was idealizing the profession of a UX designer and what the reality is.
1. Constraints and competing priorities
A company is a relatively complex entity. Usually, there are multiple teams and leaders, each with their own goals, objectives, needs, and wants. Add politics and power play to the mixture and you'll be surprised how many levers can influence decision-making.
Every company has too many projects and features they would want to work on. The bigger the company - the longer the list of these things that compete for time, money, headcount, etc. It's a constant battle for limited resources.
So, (smart) teams come up with some kind of prioritization framework that allows them to prioritize which projects will get lucky this time. Good frameworks consider multiple aspects based on the bigger company goals and objectives. Not always do these goals and objectives completely align with the (current) user needs that you, as a designer, strive to design for (even if at all possible).
A (very) simplified example
Imagine, you have a list of 10 important and promising projects, but you can complete only 3 of them. 1 is a must-have due to legal and compliance requirements. Another one will allow the company to expand into the new market faster than competitors. Another one is a must-have to update technical architecture to prevent your servers from crashing.
That's it for this year/quarter. No more resources left for that new perfect UX you wanted to implement. So, you will have to cut some corners and make some sacrifices to launch at least something to address users' needs.
2. Phased launches
A very popular approach is to break down a project into several phases to have smaller chunks of work that can be implemented in order of importance. This can help reduce launch time and risks and show results faster.
Often, the company decides to launch the first "barebones" version of the feature first, and then keep adding more goodies with the next versions. I've seen this approach being successful and not as much. Priorities often change and plans change with them. What the team may have planned for future releases is not set in stone and may change in any direction based on the new circumstances.
To be fair, sometimes, it makes more sense to define bigger phases that may take years to build. It's still a phased approach, just different timelines and sizing may vary. The full feature list is often very long and each team decides for themselves which items will get into each phase and in what priority.
3. Testing in the real world
Another reason is related to a more iterative way of building products. Sometimes, the company decides to not wait till perfection (which costs money and takes time) and launch what they have earlier. This allows them to gather valuable analytics and user insights from real-world usage, which is priceless.
So, the choice they have is either to launch this scrappy version quickly and learn from user behaviour and feedback or spend another 12 months building most of the things they want and launch it when it may be already too late for the party.
4. Financial situation
Also, related to limited resources, but a bit more desperate scenario.
Imagine, you are a startup and you have only 15 days of money left in your bank account. You need another 2 weeks to complete this final polish on the UI to make it feel perfect. On the other side of this scale, you could launch what you have now and start getting revenue from the customers right away. Would you want to keep your company afloat and have a chance to complete your cool ideas?
There could be many different reasons why teams decide to prioritize speed over quality. Is this a bummer? Absolutely! Welcome to the real world of business with competing priorities and constrained resources 😎
Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments on this post.
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