To the inexperienced, a product redesign might seem like a simpler prospect than designing a new product.
But while you certainly have a lot of advantages on your side when it comes to redesigning over creating a new design, this perception is to misunderstand the challenge.
While it is true that when you are redesigning you are starting from a much more informed and stable base, working with an existing product and an existing user base has its own specific challenges.
Let’s investigate exactly what those challenges are by going through the redesign process stage by stage, from the business case and user research to the final design launch.
1- Making the Case for a Product Redesign
Just like when you are designing a new product when you are looking to redesign a product, you need a strong business case to justify the project.
In some ways, it is easier to make the business case for a redesign than a new product, as the market has already been proven to exist, and therefore represents less risk. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy to secure the resources and support that you need to see that project realized.
In some circumstances, the powers holding the purse strings may think that it is not a priority to further invest in a successful product. So you need to make the case for why a redesign will provide a valuable return on investment.
There is also a sentiment factor.
Sometimes, people don’t want to see changes made to their favorite products.
The business case for a product redesign needs to be something real, and something that both the product owners and product users can get to grips with (users don’t tend to like change any more than owners, especially change for change’s sake).
Be clear about the driving force behind the change:
- Clear user issues that you can evidence;
- Technological advances that can enhance your product in a way that meets genuine user needs and wants;
- Key features that competitors are offering but you are missing;
- Dropping revenues that the redesign can address;
- Changes in government regulations;
- Potential to expand into new markets;
- A need to align with new organizational branding.
The business case for a redesign should always be more than just “it’s time”, or “it’s feeling a little stale”. If you are going to invest resources in a redesign, you need to have a case for the return on investment.
2- Redesign Research and Data
The business case for a product redesign needs to be based on firm evidence, gained through user research and competitor research.
For redesign projects, you generally have a major headstart when it comes to getting the information and the data that you need to inform your decisions.
- You already know who your users are, and have a good idea of potential users who you think should be using your product, but aren’t for some reason.
- You know what people are using your product for, and what encourages them to make in product purchases, upgrades, and so forth.
- You know which features your users love and use regularly, and features are being underutilized, and might be missing.
- You have feedback on what people like, what they want to see more of, what they don’t like, and what they think needs fixing.
You really are in a privileged position when it comes to data and information. Rather than making informed guesses about what the market needs and what users might like, you can work from firm data.
That doesn’t mean that further research isn’t required, both into users and competitors. But you are starting from an informed base, so you can better target your research and make better use of your resources.
3- The Nuts and Bolts
While the actual process of completing a redesign closely resembles the design process, it comes with its own unique challenges.
Just as with new design, the process needs to start with analyzing user and business needs, and establishing the target specifications to meet those needs. While this part of the process benefits from the solid data that you have at your fingertips, challenges exist.
Specifically, members of the team are often married to certain existing ideas and features, and it can be hard to convince people that changes are needed. It can also be more challenging for people to think outside the box when solutions already exist.
Prioritizing specifications can also be a challenge, as there can be a temptation to change or tweak everything. But while a redesign should leave your product feeling fresh, it should not lose its character and the user interface should remain familiar. ,
Users should never be left feeling like they will need to learn to use the product all over again.
The same iterative processes used for new design should be followed, with new features launched in a test environment and evaluated on a rolling basis with real users. This part of the process should be easier as updates can be faster than creating from scratch (but not always, as anyone who has ever dealt with a retrofit will tell you). You also have access to real users that you can invite to become involved in testing.
When redesigning, there can be a temptation to cut certain corners, but this is never wise. You still need to be looking at every aspect of the product in terms of how it fits into the user journey and the product lifecycle. It is amazing the huge impact that a minor tweak can have.
4- The Same, Only Better
Products that need to be redesigned do not usually need to be completely reinvented.
Popular products that need redesign should be recognizably the same, only better. It is imperative to maintain this principle throughout the redesign process.
All the key features that users love unless they have been the subject of a major overhaul, should be where people expect them and function very similarly. Users should never be left struggling to find and use what they loved about an existing product.
Seamlessly transitioning data and personalization preferences from one version of the product to another should also be a priority. Nothing annoys customers more and makes them more likely to abandon a product than having to reenter their data.
While a redesign may not require the same kind of heavy marketing as launching a new product, it needs to be done with care and finesse.
Redesigns are meant to improve products for users, but users do not always like the idea of changes to their favorite products, or the idea of having to relearn to use their favorite tools.
Handled badly, you can alienate and lose users. Handled well, and a redesign launch is an opportunity to re-engage users, getting them to invest further, and maybe even recommend your product to others, increasing your user base.
In order to make a launch successful, it is a good idea to start with a soft launch, releasing the product to preferred users to test before you release it to the community as a whole.
It is easier to manage the expectations of early adopters when they are aware that they are using a beta version of the product. As long as the problems they identify are addressed, they are very likely to be happy with the final product when it comes to the full market.
When it comes to a full launch, the most important factor to consider is user onboarding.
How are you going to draw users’ attention to new features and show them how to use them in a way that is quick, informative, and never patronizing.
Importantly, the key message that users should receive when they are informed about a redesign is that it is the same product, only better, and what specific benefits for them. In the announcement message, you should highlight the one or two most attractive benefits: offline access, safer data, better tagging, improved search, whatever it is.
The product tour should then take users straight to the most important features that they want to know about. Help and additional tutorials should be visible and accessible for all users to help smooth the transition.
Creating, managing, and updating a user onboarding insource is an extra responsibility for the development team and requires time and resources to provide good results.
All the same principles for good user onboarding for new products should be applied when tacking a redesign. Read our guide on How to Structure a Successful User Onboarding Experience.
It is also important to make sure that the transition period for users is flexible.
If someone is relying on a product to complete important work, they are unlikely to want to be forced to get to grips with a new redesign in the middle of an important run of work. It is better that they have a window of time that allows them to choose when the changes become live for them, so they can learn the new product at a time that is convenient.
If you are working with more complex products or significant functional changes, it can be highly beneficial to allow people to toggle between the new and existing version of the product for a period of time, so that they never feel like their work is disrupted by the product redesign.
7- Keep Updating
The final thing to remember is that the launch of a redesign is not the end of the road.
It is often when new features are launched that new problems and possibilities are revealed. So relaunch is not the time to take a break, it is the moment to start paying more attention.
It is very likely that you will identify some tweaks and minor improvements that will need to be released as updates in the near future. The work is never done.
Frequently Asked Questions
✏️ What is Product Redesign?
Product Redesign refers to re-creating a product or making significant changes to it that changes the user experience.
⌛️ When should I start considering redesigning a product?
If you have data that your product’s value will increase when you make the necessary changes, a product redesign is acceptable.
❓ What should I prioritize when redesigning a product?
You need to focus on quickly onboarding the users after the launch of the redesign so that they can get back on track without losing their interests.