Doing a UX re-design for your product

January 25, 2021

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.

And in this VUCA world, digital products are being re-designed faster than ever to adapt to change!

With growing user expectations, increased competition, and rapid technological advancements, products now require frequent yet efficient cycles of re-designing their users’ experience. But what exactly is a UX re-design?

Re-designing a product is akin to renovating a house. Suppose you have a cozy two-bedroom house that serves all your present needs. Now due to aging, you notice the walls require re-painting so that the house continues looking good and to keep it safe from weather damage.

Similarly, a product can be re-designed to keep up its visual appeal. Or it can also be done to maintain its health, by addressing any known issues of its interface. Like re-painting won’t require you to really change anything in the foundation of the house, re-skinning of a product would be limited to its top visible layer and is termed as UI re-design.

Now, consider a need for more rooms in the house for your growing family. Well, these modifications would require you to look into the foundation/blueprint of the house and then plan whether the need can be solved by simply adding something to the current structure or by re-building it from scratch.

In the same fashion, a product’s users and their needs may have changed or evolved over time. To address it, you may need to change the deeper layers of the product, terming it a UX re-design. What differentiates this from the former is its holistic nature, giving an opportunity to check all the way through to the foundation of the product.

A UI re-design is just one part of a complete UX re-design. More than just bringing fresh colors and nifty fonts, a UX re-design also deals with the change in personas and use-cases of the product. It’s about observing and embracing the way users and their behavior may have changed over since the product was last designed. You may go further by exploring the new tools in the ecosystem of the user, any new competitors in the market, or even a new “why” for the product.

How to do a UX re-design

The scope of a re-design is gauged by goals and the process of re-design is quite similar to that of designing a new product from scratch.

You start by gathering the brains behind the product and set them on a journey to re-think all the way back from “what” you have today to “why” and for “whom” you have it.

This can be achieved in two parallel streams:

  • First, identify what is and isn’t good in the current product. This is done by analyzing the user feedback and the analytics generated from the product in its current usage. This can include qualitative feedback as well as quantitative data points like drop rates, navigational patterns, and A/B tests.
  • Second, validate your current state of knowledge about the users, their needs, and the market space. This is followed by filling in the existing information gaps and updating the research artifacts.

This step is also known as a discovery workshop and it re-establishes empathy with the users and lets you also re-evaluate the competitor offerings.

Following the discovery phase, you can proceed with re-defining the personas and their use cases accordingly. Once ready with these, the next layers of UX design can then be re-worked to achieve fresh UIs, which are then ready to be tested with the users.

Testing a re-designed product early and often is as important as doing so with a new one. Apart from testing with newer personas if any, testing with existing users is also very significant, as it opens an opportunity to check if they are welcoming of the changes. There have been numerous examples in the past of massive UX re-design failures, reasons for which have varied from inadequate user research and testing to throwing too much of a change at once!

It must be noted that overdoing changes all at once or doing them just for the sake of novelty increases the risk of backfiring from users, as it adds an overhead for them to re-learn the product functioning for no great benefit in return. In the end, it’s about striking a sweet balance between “change is the only constant” vs “humans resist change.”

So, if your product is missing trending features like social logins and voice commands, or the pandemic has changed the business around your product, or maybe now is the time for you to consider the incoming Gen Z as your targeting audience…a UX re-design is the way to go!