What if…legacy software was a good thing?

Sophia V Prater
4 min readSep 8, 2023


Four colored Ionic columns, blue, yellow, pink, and green, lined up equidistant from each other.

I’ve got a question that I feel like no one is asking. Why is “legacy software” always considered a bad thing? Or perhaps the better question is:

What if we could create good legacy software?

(When I say “software”, I just mean design+code.)

When we think about our legacy in life, we definitely hope it’s going to be a good thing. We want to leave this world a little better than we found it.

But when it comes to the design+code we are implementing today, we sort of avoid the fact that it will someday become legacy — ewwwww. Sure, we might warn against the UX debt and technical debt that we are creating for next quarter, but do we really think about how a team 10 years into the future will need to build on the bricks we are putting into place today?

And yes, the design+code we are putting into place today is more brick-like than we imagine. We think of our work as dematerialized and even ephemeral in the face of fast-changing technology. It’s easy to subconsciously assume that the work we are doing today won’t be relevant in the AI-VR-quadcopter future of the next few years.

Yet, while we operate on the assumption that today’s rush-job of design+code won’t come back to bite us (or our successors), we’re simultaneously bitten by the rush-job design+code of our predecessors. Can I get an amen from those in enterprise?

We contort ourselves around the rocks and hard places of legacy software, cursing its limitations while creating more rocks and hard places for the future as we make the same mistakes: thinking in strung-together-pages, ignoring foundational conceptual models, and working so fast that our products and services get slowed down in the long run.

So, I’ll ask again — what if the design+code you are part of creating today, left a good legacy? What if long after you’ve moved on to another company or team, the people who inherited your work are able to elegantly build on the strong foundation you put into place? What if your work can make innovation easier and growth faster for decades to come?

What if your design+code had good bones?

Enter Object-Oriented UX and the ORCA Process.

Sure, creating Object Maps will help us communicate better, create more intuitive designs, and avoid UX and technical debt in the short and medium term. And a quick round of ORCA can help us even when we are forced to work myopically on a single page or flow.

But the real power of OOUX and the ORCA Process is in how it helps us create solid foundations for future growth. It helps create a strong core that a more complex system can seamlessly emerge from. It allows us to stub in concepts for the future, not only setting up design and development to pick up later, but priming our users to more smoothly adopt the things to come.

This is how you avoid the dreaded “kludge-factor” of “mature” systems. In fact, this is how you create real mature systems, no quotes needed.

OOUX helps us slow down to speed up.

Not only can we launch our current iteration faster, we can set up tomorrow’s launches for success. We can create good legacies. Here’s how:

  1. We define and solidify our core objects, the anchors of our system that change slowly, if at all. We base our products on core concepts that make up the deep pace layers of the domain we are problem solving with.
  2. We map the relationships between those objects to build navigation that is reflective of the core definitions of those objects. Those relationships provide the map for our product’s navigation that literally never has to get redesigned, only progressively enhanced.
  3. We think about task flows not as disembodied features, but as ways our users need to manipulate objects to meet their goals. We root calls-to-action directly into solid objects.
  4. We further define our objects by their attributes — what information do users most need to know about each object’s instance…and how they want to sort, filter, and visualize groups of those instances? Price? Popularity? Material? And then we further enhance our objects by creating more and more useful attributes. Price over time. Best deal based on Price, Popularity, and Material.

That’s ORCA. It’s not the whole UX Process. We still need thorough research as an input to ORCA. And we need banging interaction design, detailed IA, solid accessibility, good content strategy, an on-brand design system and so much more to bring a product to life.

Again, ORCA doesn’t replace your UX Process — but it does enhance it. It helps you realize you don’t have enough research and it helps ensure that your UI is built on a solid foundation that will last for years. Decades even. It helps give you a fighting chance at creating good legacy software, and thus, a good legacy in your work.

If you are interested in learning how OOUX can help you do this, there is no better way than to enroll in the OOUX Masterclass.

And if you are interested in getting certified, Cohort 9 of the OOUX Certification is right around the corner. Depending on when you are reading this, a spot might be available for you right now.



Sophia V Prater

UX designer, OOUX Instructor, and Chief Evangelist for Object-Oriented UX | Download the OOUX Launch Guide! OOUX.com/resources/launchguide