Prioritizing UX work:
a set of lenses

Adam Waselnuk (@awazels)
Front End Developer Lead at Shopify

Welcome to Shopify!
What should I work on?

The Lens of Quality

Screenshot of the Shopify Partners event page with small UI problems highlighted

Example UI detail from


  1. Easy to spot opportunities.
  2. We are already good at this.
  3. Adds polish and delight.


  1. Might not really matter.
  2. Might drive us insane.
  3. Users might not really care. (gasp!)
Screenshot of the crossposting settings page from Facebook

Users might not really care. *

* Actually it's complicated

How did you decide what to work on when you first started at your current job?

Quality and polish is generally improving but …

The Lens of Leverage

A matrix of impact vs effort


  1. Higher impact for same amount of time.
  2. Think outside the box of your physical boundaries.
  3. Work through your team to achieve more.


  1. Harder to spot.
  2. Can be hard to execute.

Have you found any levers you can apply recently?

So now I have a team. What should we work on?

The Lens of Product

As I’ve moved along with this I’ve noticed that learning about product management has sort of ballooned into learning about product management, business, and people in the work environment. This is fine.


You aren't sure what the right thing is. Optimize for learning.


You are clear about the problem you are solving. Optimize for value.

Infrastructure (Platform)

You are clear about a solution. Optimize for future possibilities.


  1. Experiment/Feature/Infrastructure gives your team a common language.
  2. Group prioritization rather than individual.
  3. Lot's more to learn about product management.


Lot's more to learn about product management. It can be a full time job!

Have you ever worked with a product manager or read about it? What did you learn?

The team is shipping projects and there is still lots to learn. But what do I really want?

The Lens of Self

Cover of the book 'Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less' by Greg McKeown

Do less, but better.

You own your priorities. No one else.

Apply a very selective criteria for what is essential.

Set a clear goal. Make the decision that makes a thousand decisions.

Improve my communication skills.

Speak at the 2017 HamOnt UX conference and get invited back.


It's the most important and powerful lens in my opinion.


It's terrifying. It can lead to massive change.

Take a minute and write down a goal.

Exactly where do you want to be in 3 years from now?

Too hard? Don't worry – try 1 year.

6 months

1 month

1 week


It's not easy to prioritize.

But we can look at the problem through different lenses.

Thank you