Rhanna Andrade

Rhanna Andrade

13 Feb 2023 3 min read

Startups and Design Debts: Who pays for this bill?

As a startup, you're probably familiar with the pressure to get products to the market as soon as possible. In the rush to meet deadlines, it's easy to cut corners and create design debts. But what are they, anyway?

Design debt is a tech debt that happens when the team takes shortcuts and makes quick fixes during the development process in order to deliver a task or release a product quickly. This can include decisions such as choosing a design tool that has a limited feature set or not taking the time to thoroughly consider the user experience. These shortcuts can be costly, as they can lead to a decrease in user retention and customer satisfaction, as well as a reduction in the overall value of the product.


Everyone pays for it.

Design debts can be especially problematic for startups since they often have limited resources. Additionally, startups may be more prone to debts because they may not have established design systems, guidelines or defined processes. Without a solid foundation in place, it can be challenging to ensure that all design decisions are aligned with the company's branding and user experience goals.

Products designed in a culture of doing things in haste can easily lead users to frustration. Imagine dealing with bugs, poor performance, and lack of consistency while trying to do simple tasks in a new tool they started to use. The chances of abandoning a product, even when it is a so-called trendy one, are very high. If you are concerned about maintaining your user (spoiler: you must be), you shouldn't take this chance.

So, how can you minimize the impact of design debts on your company? You can start with these simple steps:

  1. Set clear guidelines and standards: Even if you don't have a Design System, you can still set them for your team to follow. This includes typography, color palettes, and component libraries. Having clear rules helps ensure consistency and reduces the risk of tech debts in the future.
  2. Plan for the long term: Take the time to fully understand the project requirements and plan accordingly. This may require a longer timeline, but it will pay off in the long run.
  3. Test early and often: Conduct usability tests and gather feedback from users at various stages of the design process. This will help identify any issues early on and allow for quick iteration.
  4. Regularly review and update your design decisions: Remember to schedule some time on your agenda to review and update decisions, so it becomes routine. This will help you catch and address any tech debts that may have accumulated.
  5. Prioritize design: Make sure that design is a priority for your team. Invest in design resources and allocate time for designers to do their best work. This will help ensure that your product is well-designed and less prone to tech debts.

Overall, the key to mitigating design debts is prioritizing design from the start: hire a professional designer, do user research, and frequently test the product. In addition, design decisions should be based on data and user feedback, and the process should be refined and iterated. By taking these simple steps, you can minimize the negative impact of tech debts and build a stronger and more scalable product.