What are tradeoffs
When you are designing, you are making a design decision. Every time you are making a decision, you are compromising on something else. It is up to you to decide what is mandatory, what is optional, and what is to keep out.
Every team in an organization is dealing with the tradeoff. Eg: Engineers are deciding internally how to improve the code. What they can change in a given period given the resources they have.
Tradeoffs in design
While designing, you are going through so many alternatives ideas, solutions and it can be difficult to decide which should you select and which should be left out and why.
To make this decision easier, you are looking at different metrics to make a decision. In a project, the three most common metrics are time, scope, and cost. You need to negotiate on these metrics.
Scope: Everything is possible but not everything should be in scope. You cannot fix all the problems at once and not all the problems need to be solved immediately. You need to make a decision on which problem to tackle first and how to scope that out for incremental updates.
Time: Is the time sufficient to build this feature? If it is twice useful and it takes 10 times longer, is it worth it?
Cost: How much you have to spend to build the feature? What is the investment and will it yield the return we are hoping to achieve?
Tradeoffs also depends on priorities — it may be done to attain the business goal, sometimes for technical limitations, sometimes to put user needs above others.
Tradeoffs are more than making a decision
The one important aspect of deciding tradeoff is to reach consensus and alignment with the people you work with. You need to get stakeholders and cross-functional team members to agree on and prioritize various features of the project.
How can you decide tradeoff
There might be a lot of factors that might affect the project. Put different factors that might affect the project into themes and patterns. Now you choose a few and decided the priority based on these factors.
Analyze trade-offs between these factors in an analytic way. Don’t let emotions get you carried away. You should explain the rationale behind your decisions. You should document not only the decision you made also state the reasoning behind it.
You need to consider the constraints and consequences. What are the constraints of each of these choices? What is this going to prevent you from doing? How is this going to be made and what will be the consequence of that?
You should also consider the cost and benefits of each factor. Use A/B tests to mitigate any risk you might have. When prioritizing, think about future versions as well as old ones (eg: If you do this first, you might know more or reduce risk).
Few tradeoffs questions to consider
- Is it worth the work? Is it worth solving the problem?
- What is the ROI of solving this problem? Consider the cost and benefit of each option.
- If it is more useful and it takes 10 times longer, is it worth solving it?
- Is doing this first help us know more about the future and reduce risk?
- Business priorities (customer retention, conversion, growth)
- Technical (security, no API, scalability)
When a feature needs to be built, for that feature you need to see all the tradeoffs across different departments. Eg: Security (technical) vs ease of user (product/design)
Look at different factors while making a decision and align that with different stakeholders to reach a common consensus.
How to run a simple trade-off analysis using sliders — Atlassian
Tradeoffs in product design
Here’s to trade-offs and compromises. Your product’s best friends.
Using Trade-Off Scales for Prioritization in UX Design Projects — NNgroup
When Making Design Tradeoffs, Don’t Forget Hidden Costs
What is wrong with UX (podcast) — tradeoffs