Legacy Features: Let Go of the Ball and Chain and Jump

6074f-1km2fezup2x9yaspunxzxtaHave you ever been in a meeting and heard, “But how will this fit in with our legacy system?”

Legacy systems can be great. They may be the meat and potatoes of your business. They may pay your bills. They need to be up to date and work like champs.

But in order to let your company enter the wonderful world of creative, innovative design, you have to be willing to jump. And when I say jump, I mean jump away from your legacy product into the unknown. You may jump and land in a pile of cash. You may jump and land in a black hole of product death. (I recommend avoiding that one.)

Regardless of the end result, you need to have that urge to try, and test, and fail, and succeed in order to innovate and create amazing things.

I’m not suggesting that you gut your entire product and rip the rug out from under your customers. Replacing core functionality requires significant research, and major usability testing throughout every stage of the design and Dev process to ensure that the changes you make will improve your users experiences.

That said, you can’t keep such a death grip on every single legacy feature that you become frozen in time. Your product will become irrelevant.

If you keep yourself permanently tethered to every feature in your legacy ball and chain, when you jump, you’re going to swing over the edge and crash into the wall with no chance of reaching the next level of success.

Treat your legacy products with the respect they deserve, but don’t forget to occasionally jump. Because if you don’t jump, your competition will… and they’ll leapfrog right over you on their way down to that pile of cash that could have been yours.

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This post was originally published on UserExperienceRocks.com

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*Thank you for your comments that lead to clarification of key points in this post.

Then: I don’t care how it looks, just ship it! Now: Ship quality, or your product is dead in the water.

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“I don’t care that it looks like trash, just ship it!”

Ok… let’s chat about this, like rational adults.

Back in days of old, when no one cared about UX at all, users just wanted a product that worked most of the time. This was the case because typically there was only one product on the market that did what they needed it to do, so this attitude was fine. Folks continued to buy relatively lame products, because they didn’t have a choice. In fact, it was an industry standard to just shove things out the door regardless of quality. It didn’t have to look good, it didn’t have to be very usable, it just had to kind of work.

Fast forward to the present. UX is the foundation of product design, and the industry is moving at break neck speed. You can no longer afford to ship a garbage release, because it gets easier every day for users to migrate to a new, better executed product.

Innovation doesn’t just mean creating something brand new, it can mean making something that already exists more extraordinary. Why did I mention this mid article? If your product releases are shipping half baked, a company that is more agile than you are is going to sweep in and clean out your customer base. By the time you catch up and fix your mistakes it will be too late. The other company will have moved on to adding even newer, more fabulous features, and you’ll be eating their dust. (If you can even afford their dust at that point.)

It’s 2015. You can no longer ship trash. If features in your upcoming release are a hot mess, YANK THEM FROM THE RELEASE. Give yourself time to clean them up, and pull them into the next release.

The general public is not going to put up with ancient product release attitudes anymore. If you want to stay in business, get on board with the quality comes first mentality.

Innovation: Let Go Of The Ball And Chain, And Jump!

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Have you ever been in a meeting and heard, “But how will this fit in with our legacy system?”

Legacy systems can be great. They may be the meat and potatoes of your business. They may pay your bills. They need to be up to date and work like champs.

But in order to let your company enter the wonderful world of creative, innovative design, you have to be willing to jump. And when I say jump, I mean jump away from your legacy product into the unknown. You may jump and land in a pile of cash. You may jump and land in a black hole of product death. (I recommend avoiding that one.)

Regardless of the end result, you need to have that urge to try, and test, and fail, and succeed in order to innovate and create amazing things.

If you keep yourself tethered to your legacy ball and chain, when you jump, you’re going to swing over the edge and crash into the wall with no chance of reaching the next level of success.

Treat your legacy products with the respect they deserve, but don’t forget to occasionally jump. Because if you don’t jump, your competition will… and they’ll leapfrog right over you on their way down to that pile of cash that could have been yours.

Titanic Workflow Mentality: How To Lose Talent & Sink Your Company

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Today I had a sad conversation with another UX pro who is battling a really tough workplace culture problem. I have now dubbed it “Titanic Workflow Mentality”.

Sometimes you come across a person in an organization, or a band of people who slam on the brakes when new workflow ideas come through. Rather than constructively reviewing pros and cons, or keeping the positive aspects and tossing the negatives, they shut the door in your face, lock it and throw away the key.

Change is scary. Very few people on earth like the idea of change. Some changes are bad. Some are great. But if you stay stagnant, especially if your company is experiencing rapid growth,and keep doing things the way you always have for old times sake, your talent will leave and your competitors will zoom past you and laugh when you choke on their dust.

I’m fortunate to work for a company that is packed full of extremely talented people who are visionaries in the fields of software and mobile design, development and architecture. I legitimately feel pity for people who are trapped in team cultures like the one I described in the first paragraph.

If you’re starting to sense a “Titanic Workflow Mentality” coming from above (God himself could not make our old school work flows more perfect!), then it may be time to jump in a life raft and row like crazy toward a new company. Otherwise, you’ll wind up going down with the rest of the ship. And likely, the sinking experience will be full of stress, anger, extreme levels of frustration and lots of finger pointing, before it finally goes under.

If you do choose to stay and wait it out, or really feel that things could improve, get with other folks with positive attitudes in your organization and protect your positive small team culture like your company’s success depends on it (because it may). Even in the worst situations, a pocket of positive energy can go a long way in turning things around.

If you are full of anxiety and dread, are grinding your teeth to powdery nubs and have lost the will to get out of bed to go into work in the morning, start applying elsewhere though. Life is too short to work long term in a place that makes you miserable.