Good redesigns are evolutions, not revolutions. Useful guidelines on when and how to redesign, how to avoid pitfalls and how to help users embrace the new design.
Redesigns are often expensive, time-consuming and incredibly risk. Of course sometimes big-bang-redesigns are necessary, yet more often than not they can be avoided with a series of strategic incremental changes. Here are a few things to keep in mind before launching a big-scale redesign effort.
Build on top of already existing behavior patterns.
Give users control over when change affects them.
Give an option to try a new design now and later.
Allow to change back to the old design at least temporarily.
Don’t pack a lot of change in all at once.
Users accept changes if they see value in them.
Keep the old way of working first, and transition slowly.
Highlight and explain changes to returning users.
Show to users how the change benefits them.
Prepare your customer service way ahead of time.
Users Don’t Like Change If They Don’t See Value In It #
Personally, I always suggest to avoid redesign projects whenever possible. They are extremely costly, complex and time-consuming ventures — and too often without valuable outcome for end users. Instead, we need to seek where we can increase the value and apply our design efforts to that area.
As Jared Spool argues, we often think that users don’t like change. Yet users go through small and big changes all day long. What users don’t like are breaking changes. Sudden interruptions. Blockers. Bad surprises. Changes that they don’t understand and can’t see any value in. That’s what we need to avoid.
You might need to revamp email newsletters. Or improve your product pages. Or optimize for repeat business. Or address a new market. Or better cater to older audiences. Or just invest in a better search. These are typically much more urgent issues that everybody will benefit from.
But if you do, break up changes in small increments and roll out gradually. There shouldn’t be any big surprises and revelations with the redesign. Good redesigns are evolutions, not revolutions. Refine slowly as you go, and you’ll be surprised that users might not even notice that you’ve redesigned at all.