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I recently started working at a company with a reasonably complex product that's been in place for a few years. There are a ton of architecture/interaction/style/consistency issues that I'd love to fix given the time/opportunity.

I'm the only designer and start-up life is generally fast-paced so I'd love to hear from anyone who is/has been in a similar situation about how they balanced designing short-term bandaids and feature creation within the current product framework while at the same time, planning ahead to system/product wide changes they hoped to make to improve UX overall.

TL;DR - How do you balance short term and long term design goals/challenges that might often conflict

  • Welcome to the site, @aservis! I can't speak from a startup standpoint, but facing the same issue at a lethargic enterprise software company, I've found creating a style guide that documents desired standards and current deviations from them to be a good first step. – Graham Herrli Aug 6 '14 at 20:28
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I have been in similar situations in a lot of projects, and the best advice I can provide is that regardless of the stage of the project you are in, if they do not have a system/process/standard for maintaining the consistency of the designs then you will continue to perpetuate the problems that they have until you do.

From experience, nothing will facilitate transitions, ongoing maintenance or new development work like having a clear vision of the users, a clear documentation of the existing system, and an outline for how the future product or service should be. And just because there's nothing in place at the moment is NOT an excuse for not doing it, if anything it is even more important to get onto it straight away.

Good UX designers don't need to document pages and pages for the sake of it. It is about having an efficient way of documenting and communicating your ideas.

You might wonder how this answers your question. Well, the simple answer is that having a design framework/design guideline ensures that you can map the transition from the existing to the future system in a consistent and comprehensive manner. The more complex answer is that the requirements (business, user, technical) for the vision of the future product/service, unless stated or defined in a clear manner, cannot be implemented easily or consistently.

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