Why the upfront cost of investing in quality is a long-run bargain — and how UX writing can get you there.
So you want to talk about craft?
- 🚩 Is craft the flag you fly, your bread-and-butter, your raison d’être?
- 🔥 Is it because building genuinely great products that users love sets your heart ablaze? (you and I, we’re going to get along)
- 💪 Is “providing our customers a high-quality experience” in your freaking mission statement?
And yet, when you look at your product, all you see are UX ratholes and egregious design inconsistencies?
Listen: no one sets out to build a low-quality product.
What gets people excited about your project (and secures funding to bring it into existence) is your pie-in-the-sky vision.
That beautiful promo video.
That slick, non-functional prototype.
But the reality of the product development cycle is that it centers around prioritization.
Framed another way:
“What corners can we cut — while still hitting our chosen metrics enough to justify our continued existence?“
Product development is all about tradeoffs.
And more often than not, the first thing to be cut is “quality.”
“Quality” and “craft” have become synonymous with “nice-to-have” for a lot of product teams, likening a positive user experience to “polish.”
- “quality is a P2”
- “don’t sweat the details, this is just the MVP”
- “we’ll use placeholder/AI content and polish the design in v2”
- “we’ll fix it in post”*
- “quality falls below the cut line, we’re up against a deadline, we just have to hit our goals by the end of Q3”
- “JUST SHIP IT AND SEE”
And I get it.
I’ve been deep inside that eternally churning product development machine.
I know what kind of pressure teams are under to deliver, like, YESTERDAY.
YES, quality drives user retention. People stick around when you make it clear they matter, that their experience matters. It’s critical to your long-term success.
But we all know that story.
Here’s a pair of hard pills for designers everywhere to swallow:
- 💊 Quality as an investment in long-term retention often isn’t a strong enough argument to get teams to prioritize it as part of the upfront package.
- 💊 If quality’s not part of v1, it’s probably not part of v2 or v3 either.
(there, I said it!)
So here’s what I want you to know, what I want you to take back to your team, what I want you (and your ruthlessly-prioritizing PM) to chew on:
Investing in quality is a driver of efficiency.
Putting quality first is an efficiency win, in both the short and the long term.
- ⭐ Quality scaffolding provides shortcuts to building an ecosystem that’s all pulling in the same direction.
- ⭐ Brand guidelines and content style guides means you don’t have to waste endless hours, meetings, and documents making the same damn decisions every time.
- ⭐ Solid information architecture means you’re primed for growth (and incur way less tech and design debt along the way).
- ⭐ Consistency across your entire flow opens the potential to test and optimize across the end-to-end experience.
🎁 Extra credit: Turning your product into a platform with quality baked into the components such that everyone building into it gets all that craft….. for FREE. boom boom boom. If your product is reaching this exciting phase, I especially want to talk to you.
And YES, there is an upfront cost of doing it right.
Plotting a course for your content and visual design is absolutely not as neck-snappingly fast as throwing spaghetti to a wall to see if it sticks. 🍝
But here’s the other hard truth to take back to your team:
The upfront cost of doing it right is nothing compared to the long-term cost of a crappy system.
(Never-ending, bug-ridden maintenance. Tech and design debt. Duplicated experiments. Tickets pouring in. Nightmare oncalls.)
To do it right in the first place, you need someone who can zoom allllllll the way out to a systems-level view, crafting the scaffolding for your beautiful vision to take shape.
Then you need someone who can zoom allllllll the way back in: to the content on a single button, understanding how it relates back to the big-picture ecosystem.
You need a UX writer.
Oh hi! I’m Janel. I drive efficiency, acquisition, and retention by creating quality product experiences through expert UX writing. I’d love to talk about your project.