A graphic of Newton’s cradle. The stationary balls have bland expressions. A ball swinging toward them has a smile.

Overcome Digital Product Inertia with Small Successes

3 min readJan 20, 2022


Want to fix the big UX problems you know your product has but don’t know where to start? Start small. Build momentum toward true growth and lasting change.

The ship is sinking (or at least springing leaks), and no one is doing anything about it. Now, it’s not that they don’t want to do something about it. They just don’t have the expert training to make repairs or even see the problem in the first place. “Those holes? Mere pinpricks,” they say, as they slosh through puddles.

Despite our best intentions, we don’t act for many reasons: lack of group buy-in, resources, know-how, courage. And so the problem remains. When you’re no longer getting where you want to go, when complaints are ever more vocal, when doing nothing is solving precisely nothing — do something. It’s still more than anyone else is doing.

Start Small

Improving the user experience of your digital product doesn’t require Herculean shifts in strategy or down-to-the-last-detail perfection. What it does require is meaningful change through smart, strategic action. Even one small change has the power to be transformative, if thoughtfully executed with your real user needs in mind. Limiting scope limits risk, and you’ll still be rewarded with clear evidence of success, forward progress, and the confidence needed to tackle big problems.

Do One Thing

No, really: just fix one thing. At the top of your list, you might have a mission-critical issue that has long worried stakeholders. Or you might want to resolve that one issue everyone complains about (yup, that one). Maybe there’s a constellation of interrelated issues constantly causing a chain reaction of problems. All these are fine, noble candidates. In times of crisis, however, it’s acceptable and even encouraged to reach for the lowest hanging fruit. The goal is simply to get tangible results with minimal effort.

Resist the temptation to take on more. It won’t matter how big and important the problem is if you don’t have traction or buy-in. While it might not seem worth fixing something small, testing the waters with the noncontroversial will pave the way for the controversial (and potentially expensive) thing you really want to fix.

Choose the Right Metrics

If you improve user experience, you know you’ll end up better off than before, but how much better off? To gauge progress, you’ll need to compare data from before and after making the change. We recommend planning ahead. However, keep in mind that one small action might not move the needle in all areas. This is okay and completely normal. Instead, focus on what you can reasonably expect to impact, particularly areas that reflect your long-term goals.

Share the Results Widely

Once you have numbers to quantify your win, show them off! Sharing the result of your small-scale success is a sure way to win stakeholders over to large-scale change. Your one small action is also a perfect case study for future efforts, and it can prove invaluable for the wider product team to see what’s possible when negotiating similar problems.

Keep Going

Change creates its own momentum. Once you have a solid record of wins and successes — no matter how small — you’ll find it immeasurably easier to get buy-in, gain confidence, and continue down the road to UX enlightenment. Meaningful systemic and cultural change is hard won, but great UX will prove its worth — one small step at a time.

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About truematter

Our team has been doing the real work of user experience since the earliest days of the commercial web. We’re out to make your digital products a whole lot better.

No ships are going down on our watch.

Author: @trdwsn
Graphic: @krisblack




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