5 Tips for Managing Technical Debt

What is technical debt?
Technical debt results when a programmer or team chooses speed over perfect code. They make decisions that focus on shipping code instead of following design considerations. Product Plan gives you an in-depth look at technical debt.

5 TIps For Managing Technical Debt
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Is all technical debt bad?

No. Like financial debt, technical debt can be a necessary tool to help you achieve your goals. It becomes a problem when you haven’t managed it.

How do you manage it?

1. Treat tech debt as a tool

Every tool has its benefits and issues. When you are building new product, you need to decide how you are going to solve certain problems. You may create some technical debt while solving certain problems to get your app out the door.

2. Build it into your processes

Tech debt becomes a problem when you ignore it. To prevent it from becoming a problem, add it to your development processes. Track what debt you can and need to address and what you can live with. Document everything. Good documentation helps you understand the difference between debt, quirks and configuration needs.

3. Good testing can catch issues

Do you test all your code? Make sure you have enough testing to cover all your code.

4. Dedicate time to work on it

Plan on addressing the “bad” debt as part of your work load. If you schedule time to address it, bad tech debt won’t adversely affect the performance of your app.

5. Manage FOMO

There is always a new library, framework or programming language to learn more about. You want to limit the new things that you want to add or try out. Save the new things for a different project. Then, you won’t introduce unintended tech debt that you will have to fix.

Summary

When you write software, you’ll create technical debt. It doesn’t matter how good your processes. You can’t eliminate it. Tech debt can be managed.

UX for Senior Users

Accessibility helps makes your apps usable to users with different abilities. When you have older users, accessibility matters. You want their user experience with your app to be easy and memorable.

Two seniors using a tablet
Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst

Many senior users have difficulty using apps and websites. The fonts may be too small, the colors make it hard to read and navigation isn’t obvious. How do you make the UX for older users better?

Make it readable

Start by choosing fonts that are easy to read. Descriptive fonts can be challenging to read. Use them sparingly.

Font sizes are tricky to get right. If you choose a size that is too small, you text becomes too hard to read. Make it too large and users can’t won’t read it as well. What looks good with one font won’t work for another. CSS-Tricks explains how to resize your fonts.

Use color and contrast to help guide your users

Color and contrast can help user perform tasks, keep track of where they are and pick out links from text. Choosing the right colors for you users can be challenging. Some color combinations are difficult for users with vision problems. The Web Accessibility Guidelines v1.0 explains Contrast and Color. Plus, it gives you a sample color palette to choose from.

Make things easy to click

Older users can have trouble clicking on buttons and links. You want to make the big enough so they can click on them.

Use UI patterns that are easy to remember

Establish a design style that is consistent and easy to use. Use icons, fonts, text, photos and other design patterns to help reduce the learning curve. Include breadcrumbs to help users keep track of where they are.

Learn more about UX for Seniors

5 Tips For Improving Your UX Writing

How can you make your users’ experience better? By using UX Writing, also known as microcopy. It is the small bits of copy that goes unnoticed. When UX Writing is good, it helps guide your users through the user interface of your app or software. They can get things done quickly and easily without frustration or support calls.

5 Tips for Improving UX Writing
Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

Where do you use it?

You’ll find microcopy everywhere in your interface. Typical uses are:

  • Buttons
  • Headings
  • Success and error messages
  • Form labels
  • Pop-ups
  • Instructions
  • Tooltips
  • Navigation menus

How do you improve your UX Writing?

1. Keep it short and concise

Good UX Writing is short and concise. It helps to guide the user through their task. People scan words when using an app or website. Make it easier for them to understand what is happening.

2. Use simple words

Avoid difficult, technical terms. Use short and simple words. Include action words like save, create or cancel. You want your copy to be clear and easy to understand.

3. Use structural element to make it easier to read

Depending on your copy, you may need to add structural elements to make it stand out. Use a combination of color, icons and bold or italic text for error messages. Headings, numbered or bulleted lists and sidebars for other important information.

4. Edit

No matter what you write, editing makes it better. Edit your copy using a tool like Hemingway Editor to help make it readable and easy to understand.

5. Test

You want to get feedback from people who match your users. Your coworkers may miss things that your users might have trouble with. If they have trouble understanding something, you should rewrite it. Sometimes a different word makes the interface work better.

Find out more about writing good microcopy

Tips for Debugging CSS

Your CSS isn’t working right. Sometimes your styles don’t do what you expect them to do. What can you do to find the problem and fix it? Debugging CSS can be challenging.

Tips for Debugging CSS
Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

Check for syntax errors

Typos and other mistakes can creep into your CSS. Read it from the bottom to the top. When you read it backwards, you may spot errors.

If you don’t see anything wrong, try using the W3C CSS Validator. It may find something that you missed.

Use the Browser DevTools

Most browsers include developer tools. Use these to help diagnose the problem. You can change, update or comment out code. On MDN Web Docs, you can learn more about FireFox’s Developer Tools. If you prefer Chrome, check out Chrome DevTools.

Does your browser support it?

If the browser you are using doesn’t support the CSS property and value you are using, it will ignore it. You can use Can I use to learn if your browser supports this feature.

Comment out or disable the code

When you comment out the code, you can test and figure out where conflicts are occurring. If that doesn’t work, use DevTools to see if one rule is overriding the one you are working on.

Use borders

Add a border to styles that are causing you trouble. The border can help you to see the relationships between elements.

Double check you are editing the right file

Are you sure that you were editing the right file? Did you copy it from your local development machine to the production server? When you are writing code, it can be easy to have many files open at once. Double check to be sure you edited the right one.

Take a break

Sometimes you need to take a break. Go for a walk, talk to a friend, get some water. Time away from a problem can help you figure it out.

Debugging CSS still not working?

Explain the problem to a coworker or a pet. Sometime talking to someone else about the problem helps you figure out what to do next.

Layouts with FlexBox

You can use a CSS library to design a large scale website. What do you do if your needs are simpler? A CSS library like Bootstrap may be too much for your project. Smaller projects may need a simple CSS solution.

Layouts with FlexBox
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

FlexBox or flexible box can be for design small-scale layouts or applications. For larger projects, you can use it with your favorite CSS library. FlexBox provides you with tools to create layouts that grow and shrink as you need them to.

When would you use FlexBox for layout?

If you are creating navigation menus, web forms, media items or card layouts. Even simple basic grid layouts can be done with FlexBox.

You can use FlexBox to create different kinds of grids. Grids like 3X3, Masonry or Alternating rows. Tobia Sahlin shows you how to build these basic layouts.

What problems can you solve with it?

You can tackle some problems with FlexBox that were difficult using CSS alone. Problems like Vertical Center, Sticky Footers, Input Add-ons and more. Solved By FlexBox shows you 6 different UI solutions that you can do. It includes solutions like vertical centering.

Where do I learn more?