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How to Approach a UX Redesign

Posted @ 4:56 pm by Kristin Zibell | Category: Strategy, User Experience | 0 Comments

A new website or app is like a birth. So much planning, thought, sweat, and possible tears went into its launch. You’re happy, the stakeholders are happy, and hopefully, you think, the users will be too. Why not? On those big Mac Cinema displays, the colors popped, the code QAed, and users accepted.

But all may not be well. It’s several months out past launch and barely a chirp is heard from users – they are just not using it. Or their chirps are quite loud and not in the proud way you’d hoped. Out in the wild, it may seem, the love is not necessarily there for the new web site or app. And now there are rumblings that there may be some pieces of the user experience that could be improved.

Before you start scoping out new buttons, widgets, flows and tacking on “enhancements,” let’s look at how to approach a redesign that will actually improve the user experience instead of quilting together fixes that may worsen it.

At SolutionSet, the User Experience team works with clients to create strategies for new-to-the-world online products and redesign projects. A redesign project means looking at any proposed revisions and enhancements to see how well they meet the business and user goals of the site or app.  Redesigned apps and sites include thoughtful changes, which means more user acceptance and, dare we say, love. This article covers the how to approach a redesign project in a strategic way, before that new requirements doc makes its way to development with more shiny objects that may or may not help the cause. Use these techniques to identify the problems to fix in a redesign and test the solutions you think may be in the right direction.

ASK THE QUESTION: WHAT’S THE VISION?

This may seem like a “duh” question, but it’s worth asking the project owners again, “What’s the vision?” This question is big, so ask it a few different ways: What can a user do with this functionality and information? How will it impact their lives? What makes it valuable? Simply restating the value proposition and vision provides a lens upon which to look at any proposed fixes. It sets the stage for a brainstorm of new and fabulous ideas. Dive into goals and metrics from this vision and ask, “What are our business objectives for the site (i.e. increase page views, conversions, community participation, etc.)? How will we define success? How will we measure it?” That way, the team can track if the improvements worked or not. Overall, asking these questions takes the team out of a “must fix” to a “how to build the dream!” mentality.

TALK TO THE USERS

Maybe timelines were super tight, maybe user research was so long ago, or maybe the idea was so top secret that prototyping was cut a little short. That’s fine, the redesign is the perfect time to get feedback on a working site or app. It’s also time to talk to users about what they find valuable in the app and site and what they find useless.  Their opinions and thoughts are one big data point of the redesign. Use a survey to look for patterns and the big issues to fix. Interview several users and have them walk you through their experience to add color to the responses. You’ll be able to see the site or app through their eyes and understand why or why not it’s working. Then get bold and ask them what apps or sites they like for the same purpose. You’ll start to gain an idea of design solutions and strategies that can make your site or app more valuable to the user.

USABILITY TEST CURRENT PRODUCT

Usability testing (not user acceptance testing) is a tried and true method to uncover user experience problems with the site or app. It’s more than standing over your co-workers shoulder and asking, “Where would you click?” It’s watching people — your beloved users — actually using the site and app for what they desire.  Then it’s looking at what mistakes they make and positing “Why?” Is the button you thought was so “in your face” that no one could miss it being missed because users are looking for a Search? That’s the sort of stuff you find out with usability testing. It also fuels the understanding of what solutions could work in the redesign because you understand what the users expect.

USABILITY TEST NEW DESIGN PROTOTYPES

The next test doesn’t have to be fancy; you have all you need to put a few designs together and get it in front of users. Remember that vision, those goals, and all the user feedback. Mock up a few high-level wireframes that gel everything together. When that’s done, put it in front of the users. Consider another usability test or perhaps a Usabilla to find click paths. Either way, you’re looking for validation that the redesign is going in the right direction. Doing this prevents wayward designs and shiny objects from sneaking their way into the design, because now you have actual user data showing what works and what doesn’t on the road to that vision!

PROPOSE A LIST OF PRIORITIZED REVISIONS

Whew! Almost done! Take a look at all you’ve done. You know what the app or site is supposed to achieve, you’ve talked to users, you’ve watched them work, and you’ve tested design solutions. Your team can begin a thoughtful and strategic requirements doc to improve the site and app. To help them, go through all those proposed revisions and new functionality and find what will make the most impact the soonest. How do you know what will? You have the qualitative and quantitative data to tell you. Work with the development team to understand level of effort for all your proposing and, voila! — a list of redesign requirements that the team and the users can love.

Author: Kristin Zibell is a senior user experience designer at SolutionSet in San Francisco. She works with Fortune 500 clients to set user experience strategy and design the most fulfilling online experiences.

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