Fool me twice, shame on UXD: How to reduce risk during product redesign

You’ve released your product and it didn’t go as you had hoped. Or maybe it was well-received, but you’re always looking for ways to be better. A great way to reduce risk during product redesign is to incorporate user experience. User experience design will cater to the needs of your user base by incorporating their needs and motivations. The following post provides a few tips to keep in UX in mind throughout the redesign process.

Summary

  1. Acknowledge bias.
  2. Set concrete goals and determine how you will measure them.
  3. Refer to and utilize your actual data.
  4. Try out competitive usability testing.

Acknowledge bias.

There will always be situations where we will be tasked to create something with a predetermined objective. Instead of incorporating user testing data, the goal has been set by untested assumptions, a desire for something new! and fresh!, or the design requirements are overly specific and prescriptive. If it’s not the stakeholder or the project manager restricting the way, it could be you. As imperfect human beings, we can’t help but bring in our own expectations, habits, and perspectives into the task at hand. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t implement our knowledge into our work, but rather we should make an effort to acknowledge that our understanding of best practices and methodologies may not be well-suited to every project we are tasked with. Especially as UX professionals, the more we know about a problem may prevent us from accepting new or competing information (i.e. confirmation bias).

Set concrete goals and determine how you will measure them.

Concrete goals will be the tenets to which you or your team can consistently refer to as a marker for testing. These markers will signal to you if the project is on track. Focus on what problem will be solved with your product/redesign and resist the urge to simply create outputs. Hasty changes that focus on outputs over goals can lead to feature bloat or risky, radical redesign decisions that are unnecessary and costly. Unless your product cannot function (e.g. new technologies, third-party tools, etc.) or has gone through countless incremental changes and you are still at the point of diminishing returns, avoid complete redesigns. Remember to establish ways to measure if your goals have been accomplished or not. These metrics will vary based on your goals, and whether they are qualitative or quantitative. Refer to this blog post for an example (HEART Framework).

Refer to and utilize your actual user data.

via NEW DATA SERVICES on Unsplash

“Usability studies lay the groundwork for the redesign process and keep you and your team focused on the right issues.”

– Hoa Loranger, Nielsen Norman Group

To obtain user data, you have to actually conduct user experience tests. That’s a blog post for another day, but here is a quick introduction to it from Coursera.

Once you complete your user testing, you’ll want to use it as the foundation of your project. You’ve done a great deal of work to acquire input from your end users, why not use it to guide and reinforce how to go about the redesign? Themes will emerge from the data and you can distill these insights into your goals. The data will reveal specific needs that are not being met, as well as aspects that are either well-loved or unused by your users. Incorporating your user data will reduce the risk of delivering a design that users don’t want or will compromise your ROI. Additionally, using this data as the basis for any changes will allow for less conflict between your team. It is much easier to argue over opinions than it is user data.

Try out competitive usability testing.

via Victoire Joncheray on Unsplash

Testing your product’s existing design along with a few competitors’ provides valuable insight for new designs. The goal is not to copy another product’s design. Comparing against a competitor allows you to test new features without developing them, evaluate if they are well-liked but unsuited for your users’ needs, and get a general sense of how your product fares against other companies in the market. Seeing a user complete similar tasks with two different products will also demonstrate aspects beyond individual features, such as how a competitor’s product shapes a user’s flow and what concepts might work (or not) for your user base. Seeing what other companies are doing may reveal new designs/interactions for your product as well as what mistakes to avoid.


Useful Articles

Loranger, H. (2014, December 7). Competitive Usability Testing to Discover Better Designs. Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/redesign-competitive-testing/

Loranger, H. (2015, February 8). Radical Redesign or Incremental Change? Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/radical-incremental-redesign/

Loranger, H. (2016, August 14). Minimize Design Risk by Focusing on Outcomes not Features. Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/outcomes-vs-features/

Nielsen, J. (2009, September 20). Fresh vs. Familiar: How Aggressively to Redesign. Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/fresh-vs-familiar-aggressive-redesign/

Schade, A. (2013, December 15). Competitive Usability Evaluations: Learning from Your Competition. Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/competitive-usability-evaluations/