Insights

Design Tips

Viewing posts from the Design Tips category

20 Ways to Supercharge Any Social Media Website

Social media includes community-based video, photo, audio, and news websites as well as blogs. Although each of these types of websites has unique content and dynamics, they are also alike in many ways. This article explores various ways to get the most out of any social media site.

Social media sites rely on user-generated or user-submitted content to draw other users (visitors). In turn, users add content to these sites because they reach a broader audience. Additionally, the social interactions that are made possible by these websites create further draw. It is in these three areas – sharing, consuming, and interacting – that social websites can be optimized.

Empower Dissemination and Interaction

Don’t let the website’s content sit idle. One of the most difficult things in creating and running a successful social media site is amassing content, whether it be video or news story submissions. That is why it is critical to get the most of out the content by allowing and encouraging users to disseminate it throughout the web and fostering various interactions that bring that content to life and build a community around it.

1. Let users submit content to third-party social news and bookmarking services like Del.icio.us, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.

Read More

Facebook Effectively Rolls out Experience Redesign

A while ago, I wrote about the dangers of radical experience redesigns and how to implement them so the fewest number of users will abandon the product during the transition from old to new. The main points articulated in the article were:

  • Make only changes that really will benefit users
  • Let users know what improvements will be made and why
  • Give users a preview of the new design
  • Make sure that users will perceive the changes as beneficial in the short-term as well as long-term
  • Give users aids such as tool tips, tutorials or an overview of changes
  • Give users the option to continue using the old version

Facebook’s limited launch of its new design serves as a great case study of putting these points into practice, and it also serves to extend them.

In the past, Facebook has  launched a number of radical changes to its product with little forewarning or transition strategy, which resulted in great unrest and even upheaval among its users. They have finally learned that just thrusting large changes into the experience upon its users can be dangerous to their business. Facebook chose a more sensible approach this time to ensure that they avoid user discontent and facilitate adoption of the new design. They employed many of the recommendations mentioned above. Specifically, they

  • Gave users a preview of the new design
  • Gave users the option to continue using the old version
  • Gave users aids such to help them learn the new experience

Easing Users in

It is almost a given that all major changes to a product’s user experience will displease some set of users. By giving users a preview of the new experience along with giving them the option to continue using the old version, Facebook effectively eased users into the new site. This ensures that users give the new version a chance rather than dismissing it outright, and this also attenuates negative opinion. There are many anecdotal stories of users vehemently opposing changes to products to later adopt them to the point of not being able to live without them. And if the new version is thrust upon them, users feel like they are backed into a corner and are likely to have a stronger reaction to change and less likely to give it a chance.

Compete.com, an online web analytics company, recently released some compelling analysis of users slowly adopting Facebook’s new design (new.facebook.com).

People Using New Facebook Design

While the above graph shows the number of users trying the new design increasing rapidly, another graph (below) showing the proportion of those users trying the new site and going back to the old site projects a slightly different picture; many users are resistant to Facebook’s new design.

People Using New Facebook Design and then Going Back to Old Facebook

The percentage of users reverting to the old site has dropped from about 55% to about 40%, but that is still a large chunk of its user base. I guess the larger question that arises from this is: What proportion of users must adopt the new design to roll it out fully?

Help Users Learn and Adopt the New User Experience

One thing that Facebook did with the redesign that I found very helpful as a user was providing visual aids that identified major changes and explained how to user them.
Examples of Tool Tips and Aids on Redesigned Facebook site

The above screen shot shows how visual aids (cues) help users learn the new experience on the redesigned Facebook.

Giving Users a Voice

One point that I missed in my previous article is giving users a voice. Giving users an opportunity to provide feedback and vent empowers them and reduces their anxiety, and thus frees them to explore the new design. Facebook allows users to provide feedback by clicking a link in the upper right of the page and also created a discussion forum where users can also voice their concerns and ideas.

Going the Extra Mile

The jury is still out about whether the changes to the user experience on the new Facebook site are truly beneficial for users in the long term, but it is certain that they made design choices aimed at improving the user’s experience on the site. However, beyond posting a press release about the redesign, Facebook did not greatly reach out to its users to explain the redesign. Effectively communicating to users changes to the product, explaining their underpinnings, and assuring users that the redesign is aimed at improving their experience is key in reducing anxiety and encouraging adoption.

All in all, Facebook has been doing a great job in rolling out its new design in a way that minimizes negative impacts and improves adoption of the new site.

The Power of Iterative Design and Testing

Jakob Nielson’s article, Weekly User Testing: TiVo Did It, You Can Too provides a great case study supporting testing early and frequently in the design process to produce exceptional design. Having worked with TiVo, I can say that their approach to usability and research is stellar, and their user experience team is very talented, so it is great to see this recognition.

The specific web redesign project mentioned in the article enforced TiVo’s user-focused culture, and finally brought user-friendliness to its website. As Nielson quotes:

“I’m selling you a product where the key differentiator is ease of use,” says Margret Schmidt, the company’s vice president of user experience and design, “but if the website isn’t easy to use, how will you believe that the product is? We tried to bring that to the site.”

The outcome: TiVo’s new website is simple and clear while still being media-rich, and scored in the top 20% of Nielson’s study on web usability.

TiVo.com

Nielson summarizes the benefits of this approach well with the following main points:

  1. Costs the company less.
  2. Offers motivation.
  3. Helps drive business decisions.
  4. Creates a testing culture.
  5. Builds internal knowledge.

I wholly advocate for this approach as it improves design. Period. No matter how good a graphic designer, interaction designer, content writer or product manager you are; there are invaluable insights you will get from testing frequently that will improve your final product.

Testing at this level not only reduces costs, but also facilitates inter-departmental collaboration (see our previous article: Avoiding the Problems of Design by Committee). Just think, TiVo conducted only 12 tests in 12 weeks. How many projects do you know of that have accomplished that much in 12 weeks with such a usable and appealing outcome?

Search Goals on the Web

The search experience is one that continues to evolve. Developers continue to improve the algorithms and interactions aimed at getting users to their desired result(s) faster. Hints such as the exposed URL, have expanded to include elements such as StumbleUpon’s Social Search, Ask’s binoculars site previews, among others. There has even been talk and development around natural language search. And the list goes on…

Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering recently wrote about designing for how people search. A key finding from the research showcased in this article is as follows:

“When we talk to designers about how they approach the search results page, they tell us they want to give their users a list of great choices from which they’ll choose. This approach focuses these designers on creating a showcase of choices. The showcase leads developers to think choices are a good thing.

However, here’s an interesting finding from our research. Users don’t necessarily want to choose. They aren’t looking for a showcase. They are looking for the magic item that will solve their needs. If the system can’t figure it out, well then, they want to see the selection that contains their magic item. But, if the system only provides a single magic item, they’ll be happy — assuming it’s exactly what they want.”

However, today, Spool writes again on Mike Moran’s commentary on his first article, which counters this finding. Moran writes:

“[..]. many Web site searches do require just one correct answer, as Jared points out. But not all of them. In my work at ibm.com, I noticed that the most preliminary searches often were informational ones. Someone might search for “e-mail archiving case studies”- they don’t want to get just one. Now, sure, if you have a page on your site that lists every blessed e-mail archiving case study, that would be a great #1 result, but you usually don’t have that kind of aggregation page for every possible query.”

So which is it? Do we give users one result or many? In Spool’s opinion, the current list format is a temporary fix for poor search algorithms, which are unable to discern the user’s intention. However, I would tend to concur with Moran here. Will technology ever be able to completely discern a user’s intention and provide the one ultimate solution? Particularly, as information grows on the web, I think this answer is no. In this case we should try to design for the many, rather than just one group.

People search differently, and use varying methods at different times. Sometimes, one may just want a simple definition no matter where it comes from, other times they may want a series of resources to compare/contrast and make a decision. For the first case, it suffices if the first result is what the person is looking for, and in the latter, it is helpful to have the other options.

The simplicity of having one result may only lead to frustrations for those that desire many answers. I think the real challenge is to ensure that results are relevant from the outset, and not necessarily to prove that computing has evolved to produce one relevant result that can satisfy everyone.

The Economist Speaks About Its Web Site Redesign

In this past week’s issue of The Economist (May 17-23), the newspaper brilliantly provides an explanation of its homepage redesign. Not only is it fascinating to read the rationalizations behind the changes, but communication is a critical step often missed in major redesigns, and this also serves as a great example of how to effectively communicate with the users.

The Economist Homepage

They simply and clearly state their goals for the redesign:

We wanted to do three main things: make the page simpler, deeper and more enjoyable for the reader.

Having a high-level strategy such as this allows the organization to stay on course and not get caught up in minutia. In fact, this can and should serve as a litmus test for the smaller details. At each turn, this allows the user experience designers to ask: “Does this make our homepage simpler, deeper, and more enjoyable for the reader?”

They go on to explain in greater detail how they accomplished these three broad user experience goals:

First, simplicity: ‘We have cut clutter (always something The Economist likes to do). There are fewer advertisements. The page is cleaner, with images that stand out more clearly to flag featured content.’

The navigation that runs down the left-hand side of the page, and throughout the site, is now completely visible right away, with no need to scroll ‘below the fold.’

A second aim was to make more content readily accessible-strange as it may sound, to combine greater simplicity with greater depth.

A new feature brings to the fore the articles that have proved most popular with readers. You can choose between three different measures of this: the articles that have attracted the most comments, the ones that readers have recommended the most (by clicking on the ‘recommend’ button next to the text) and those that have been most read. So you get to influence what appears on the home-page.

That is part of our third aim: to make the page a more enjoyable experience. It shows not just what we select, but what readers are finding most interesting. The page will be ‘alive’ in other ways, too, changing throughout the day, so it will be worth returning to more often.

Though all of the above insight is interesting, two things in particular jump out at me. The first thing is how they set out to accomplish a seemingly paradoxical goal of combining “greater simplicity with greater depth.” They do this by employing interactive elements such as a rotating feature and a ‘hottest’ module to “Bring to the fore the articles that have proved most popular with readers.”

In addition, to make the homepage more enjoyable for users while compelling them to visit regularly, The Economist constantly features new content, mostly through reader participation.

Perhaps the most refreshing part of the article was The Economist‘s humility. It is very clear that the web team at The Economist spent a great amount of time and energy to get the redesign right, but despite this they realize that no design is perfect, and they welcome ideas to make it better.

Indeed, we hope you find the new home-page as a whole a big improvement. But change is not always welcome-as some of the comments made on our site have already made clear-and we won’t have got everything right in one go. So we’d welcome your views, negative as well as positive.

Kudos to The Economist for a great redesign and for sharing with its readers and everyone else their goals and how they got there, as well as for inviting us to help make the user experience even better.

Avoiding the Problems of Design by Committee

We all know the saying “too many cooks spoil the broth,” yet it is common during the design process for too many stakeholders to become design decision-makers. When reviews go beyond discussing issues in the user experience and gathering new information and ideas, stakeholders with varying points can sometimes begin to dictate the direction of the design. This leads to a once cohesive set of interactions diverging on many different paths. Slowly, the experience that was begins to slip away, and the product definition dilapidates. So, what can be done to avoid this situation?

1. Define the Problem and Articulate the Goals

Before one can tackle any redesign, whether feature enhancement or new development, it is critical to know ‘what issues need to be solved?’ Oftentimes assumptions are made without proper investigation, and wrong solutions are derived.

For instance, one may note that there is a high customer attrition for one’s product while the competition increases its market share. Without analysis, one could assume that this problem is due to a feature of the competition’s product. However, it could be that the issue really stems from a less apparent problem such as misinformation during the customer engagement process. By narrowing the problem down to its source(s), one can define a specific and appropriate strategy. By speaking in broad terms and ultimate goals (such as ‘out-do the competition’), teams can become divided in ways to tackle the issues.

From the outset, you should deconstruct the problem and state the ultimate and intermediary success criteria for the undertaking. This provides a solid foundation to guide the design phase and keep focus throughout the entire process.

2. Identify Stakeholders and Roles

In keeping with the mission to maintain focus, it is crucial to also synthesize the voices for design conception and refinement. This is one of the more delicate balancing acts one has to perform. As a designer, you want to be sure that you have enough feedback at each step so there isn’t a surprise overhaul at the end, but you also need to preserve productivity toward a unified goal.

The user experience design should be a collaborative effort, and to be successful it should include input from representatives from various touch points in the company. These representatives should not only provide input from their own perspectives, but also bring vetted feedback from members in the company with whom they interact. This allows for more voices to be heard in a more unified way. Once these stakeholders have been identified, it is important to communicate their roles as a liaison and representative. It is also important to set expectations for collaboration and to highlight the importance of putting the user first in each decision. Furthermore, each stakeholder should be familiar with (and played a part in defining) the goals which were set forth at the beginning.

Peter Merholz of Adaptive Path talks about this complex issue of breaking through the organizational barriers to produce a successful user experience. An important thing to not forget in discussions is that everyone should feel that their ideas are being heard. You must bring closure at each step by explaining how concerns have either been addressed or sidelined for the benefit of the experience.

Beyond the voices within the company, another voice that cannot be ignored is that of the user.

3. Test Early and Test Often

Iterative testing is a great principle to follow, particularly in groups where a central authority makes hasty decisions. It is also essential for contentious groups that tend to incorporate everything into the design without discrimination because they are unable to reach a general consensus. User testing at crucial junctures can often bring harmony to a group by validating certain design choices and reminding everyone of the user’s perspective. Remember, that testing does not necessarily mean having expensive usability testing sessions, particularly at this level. Informal testing and sanity checks are more important to ensure that the business goals and conflicting internal interests are not overshadowing the needs of the users.

This iterative approach allows the design team to have the freedom to try many different approaches, particularly in the beginning, and in so doing, ensure that the various concerns and ideas are not being lost. Frequently, it becomes important to try even the “crazy ideas” to bring the team together and provide something which helps visualize ideas and facilitate conversation.

Escaping Design by Committee

These three components can be very effective in keeping the design focused while addressing the concerns and needs of the various stakeholders. Despite this, there is clearly no error-proof approach, so in case you do find yourself caught in the mire of design by committee you should rely on reason. The business, and indeed your team, will want to have a rewarding experience and fully developed product in a timely manner. By explaining that the constant redirections and lack of focus are deteriorating the experience and hurting the schedule, one can reintroduce both urgency and rationale. Taking a step back to revisit the original goals and testing against them can help to restore purpose. It may also be that the original goals are no longer applicable and should be updated to unify the team once more.

At these time, the iterative testing will come in handy as it will be easier to identify where you had digressed and what you may leverage in the re-focusing effort.

In conclusion, avoiding unfocused design is a core element of preventing design by committee. In order to keep focus, you must identify roles explicitly, facilitate open and effective discussion, test frequently, and maintain clear goals.

Note: There will be no UX News Round-Up today. Check back next week when this weekly series will resume.

Dealing with Radical User Experience Redesigns

In my last article ‘Radical Redesigns May Be Dangerous,’ I wrote about the potential hazards of drastic changes to existing user experiences. In a poorly executed redesign, these pitfalls can turn away hard-won users (customers). In this article, I explore ways that radical redesigns can be successfully implemented, so fewer existing users leave, and more new users can benefit from the improvements.

Unfortunately, the truth is that almost all user experience redesigns will be unpopular with some people. The more substantial the changes, the greater is the possibility that it will strike discord with users, causing them to abandon the product or service. The good thing is that there are measures that can be taken during design and implementation to increase acceptance of the new design and ease adoption.

The Roots of Displeasure

Any redesign inherently carries four difficulties for users. They are:

  • Anxiety
  • Shock
  • Disappointment
  • Confusion

Anxiety arises because users are not sure what to expect. They cannot be sure that the changes will benefit them. They may also be anxious carrying out their tasks in an unfamiliar interaction environment.

A user experience can be shocking when it is a great departure from what users already know and understand. This shock can arise from something as simple and trivial as graphic design or from something more consequential such as a complete reworking of the main navigation of a web site.

Disappointment may be the most serious nuisance because it has the greatest propensity to drive users to abandon a familiar product or service. Users may be disappointed by a redesign for various reasons. Perhaps the changes are touted as vast improvements but do not deliver. It could also be that some functionality is altered or eliminated. It could even be that the company and designer make decisions that do not benefit the user.

Learning to perform their tasks in a new environment means that users will have to learn how to interact with it. This opens the door for confusion. Users will also have to learn the new limits of the new interactive experience. They may ask, “Does it do what the old one did? Does it do more? Does it do less?”

Each of these barriers can lead users to abandon a familiar product or service, so it is essential to diminish their effect as much as possible.

Make only changes that really will benefit users

Designers and companies often make changes that are unnecessary or detrimental to the users. Sometimes haphazard and ill-conceived experience design leads to this. Sometimes business decisions overshadow the needs of the users. For example, a company may want to put ads on their website to earn revenue. This is a very reasonable business goal, but it has to be balanced with the needs of the website users. This may mean opting to be conservative with the number of ad units on a page instead of crowding a page with a ton of ads. After all, no matter how many ads are placed on a website, if doing so drives away users, they will earn less.

Despite the call for a ‘radical’ redesign, such a project is still a user experience optimization and should be treated as such. This begins with creating an overall strategy based on an understanding of the users’ needs and challenges as well as the business goals. Then the user experience designer must systematically analyze all the design options with the broader strategy in mind.

Through this methodical process it will become clear that some changes are clearly positive, others are clearly not worthwhile, and others are toss-ups. At the very least, the designer can discard the ones that do not make the cut and incorporate the ones that are clearly valuable. Because most changes will introduce challenges for users, changes that are toss-ups can either be refined through various forms of user testing, or can be eliminated, since we are not sure they will be beneficial.

By eliminating all superfluous and detrimental changes to the user experience, users will feel less anxiety and shock. They will also be less likely to be disappointed with the changes, and will have less to be confused by, less to learn and more to enjoy.

Let users know what improvements will be made and why

When a company is touting big changes to their product, customers can grow anxious. Big changes mean big uncertainty to them. They may be unsure that they will still be able to complete their tasks the way they know how to. To assuage their fears, it is important to communicate to users what will change and how these changes are meant benefit them. This can be accomplished via various channels such as marketing campaigns and messaging in the software or service.

Give users a preview of the new design

Providing a smooth transition from one version to the next is crucial because it reduces the shock that users will feel when they get something vastly new. Proper messaging goes a long way, but another step is giving users a more tangible preview of what is to come. As a result they can start to get acclimated by seeing screenshots or even prototypes of the new version, rather than abruptly encountering a completely new environment.

Many online services allow users to test out new versions before they are fully rolled out. This allows users to acclimate to the new experience and start learning how to interact with it. It also provides the organization with an opportunity to gather feedback and make final adjustments before releasing it to all users.

Make sure that users will perceive the changes as beneficial in the short-term as well as long-term

Sometimes changes to the user experience are valuable and enjoyable to users in the long-term but are not initially accepted. This could be because the resulting revisions are shockingly different or because users cannot fully take advantage of the new design until they have learned and internalized the new ways of completing their tasks.

No matter what the reason for the users’ initial negative perception, things can be done to abate it. First and foremost is communicating intended benefits to the user. If they understand the value of these revisions, they are more likely to expend the effort to learn a new system and thoroughly try it out.

A somewhat more resource-intensive method is to perform usability testing on prospective designs to see what will be users’ reactions to them. This can help to determine what are the biggest trouble spots, which may be refined to be less intimidating and easier to learn.

By also ensuring that new interactions and environments are easy to learn, and by supporting learning, the immediate and long-term can be brought closer.

Give users aids such as tool tips, tutorials or an overview of changes

When a product is redesigned from top to bottom, it can become so different from the former version that it seems like a completely new product. That means that users have to re-learn how to do many of the tasks that they were accustomed to completing on the old one. From the users’ perspective, they might as well try a competitor since their old product or service is just as alien as the new revision.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to aid learning a new design. Even the most radical designs build upon previous iterations and may keep many facets of the previous experience. The key is to effectively use these tools to help users bridge the gap between the familiar and the unfamiliar.

Wherever there are huge departures from existing design, aids such as tutorials, tips, tool-tips, and visual cues can be used to explain and demonstrate new interactions. For example, we can animate a shopping basket to expand whenever a user ads items to it. We can also show a hovering explanation of a new action item or even provide a video tutorial on using it.

Not only do these methods help users understand and learn the redesign, but they also help to reduce their anxiety and frustration.

Give users the option to continue using the old version

Finally, rather than forcing users to adopt the new design, users can have the option to continue using the old version, to reduce their anxiety. Over time they will accept and adopt the new version. For example, when Microsoft came out with Vista, they did not force their customers to use it exclusively. Instead, Microsoft continues to offer support for older versions of Windows as Vista is gaining momentum. This approach works equally well for web-based services and applications as it does for large shrink-wrapped software. In fact, one may argue that it is even more critical for web and mobile products as it is much easier for users to switch to competitors in those spaces.

In Conclusion

Despite the dangers, a well-executed user experience redesign can create great value, which is why companies are excited to embark on such projects. From the user’s standpoint, a successful redesign will make the product or service more enjoyable and rewarding. From the business’ (organization’s) standpoint, a successful redesign will extend the lifetime value of existing customers by increasing their loyalty and even their level of their participation. Putting to practice the above points will go a long way to ensuring that a radical redesign is a hit with users and fruitful for the organization.

UX News Round-Up

“Small Pond, Smart Fish”

The latest from Coroflot’s Creative Seeds blog contends that Design Capitals are “rarely the best locations to start a career.” Rather than eking out a living in some of the most expensive cities in the world, going deeper into debt, at a temporary internship getting “small pieces of pick-up work”–why not go somewhere “less sexy”, where you have a better chance to develop the “solid, concept-to-market pieces that make a portfolio shine?” The author, speaking from his own experience, notes, not only had all the senior designers he knew in New York City gotten their start somewhere else, but most of the alumni he’d kept in touch with had followed a progression similar to his: away from Design Capitals.

Ask E.T.: Tufte on the iPhone

Edward Tufte offers some insight into his opinion on the iPhone interface with a new video and some still-land material out of his 1997 book, Visual Explanations. By increasing “information resolution”, reducing “computer admin debris”, integrating “text, images and video” in a “flat, non-hierarchical interface”, and replacing “spacious icons with tight words,” Tufte explains, “the metaphor for the interface is the information. Thus the iPhone got it mostly right.”

Montparnas’ weekly news installment posts every Tuesday at lunchtime.

Radical Redesigns May Be Dangerous

Many clients are excited by radical user experience redesigns; few realize that radical redesigns are not always warranted and often pose potentially grievous problems for users.

Throughout my career I have been involved in a number of projects that called for a ‘radical redesign’ of an existing product or service. To their credit, those clients realized that they needed to surpass the status quo to gain a competitive advantage and were willing to embark on a profoundly new direction to do so. Yet this desire to drastically change a product or service must be balanced against the difficulty users may face in adjusting to, learning, and evaluating those new experiences. Generally speaking, the more radical the redesign is, the greater the possibility that users will not accept the new version.

Every redesigned facet of the user experience must be processed, understood and internalized by users; this requires users to expend energy. At the same time, users are only willing to invest energy if they see that the action will generate a worthwhile benefit. That means three things. First, each desired change to the user experience really must be an improvement for the users. Second, it must be clearly communicated to the user that each change is meant to benefit them. This can be as simple as listing the changes and explaining how they are enhancements. Third, great pains must be taken to ensure that each change is easy to learn.

Another consequence that must be taken into account is the anxiety that a redesign, by being a departure from the familiar, may cause. This unease can be caused by a number of concerns such as a fear of making critical errors in a new interaction environment, an apprehension of learning a new system, or an uncertainty that the new version will still do what the user requires.

The last point is illustrated by a recent personal incident. The online project management software that our firm uses made big changes to its user experience. In the process of trying to improve the product, however, it swapped a simple task list for more robust and complicated feature. We have not yet adopted the new version because we are afraid that it will no longer fulfill our needs.

These effects on users have real, measurable business impacts. When considering extreme changes to an existing user experience, one must recognize that the client has worked very hard to win current customers (users). One must also understand that with every redesign, even a subtle one, those valuable users may abandon the product or service because they may not accept changes to something with which they are familiar. It may be that the changes will, in fact, be beneficial to them in the long run, but they just do not want to give up something that they already know and understand.

The business impacts of a radical redesign may also extend to the effectiveness of a service of profitability of a product. For example, if a ecommerce company drastically redesigns their checkout process in a way that is hard to understand and in a way that is imposing to the users, fewer may actually go through the check out process and sales may be lost.

In addition, creating a user experience that is a great departure from the previous version may lead users to explore competitors. One powerful factor in users’ loyalty is the comfort of a familiar product or service. If the familiarity is no longer there, there is less to keep customers from straying to competitors.

Prospective customers have slightly different challenges than existing customers. They are more likely to be wowed by big changes to a user experience, and marketing folk are very adept at leveraging these improvements as attractive qualities to the customer (user); however, a prospective customer has the daunting task of evaluating a product or service that he or she wishes to adopt. If a product of service drastically changes, the context for that evaluation may be temporarily lost. In other words, while the new version is adopted and evaluated, there will be less such consumer information, like reviews, during that period.

Beyond making the service or product temporarily harder to evaluate, there is another common challenge. The prospective user may hold off on adopting a new product or service until all the ‘kinks’ are worked out. The perception is that the bigger the change in user experience from one version to the next, the greater the number of kinks.

Although there are real challenges and dangers associated with sweeping user experience redesigns, they are sometimes warranted and necessary. One does not want to be too conservative in one’s redesign if there are major issues to resolve or if big changes can set the client apart from competition. If the user experience strategy dictates that a radical redesign is needed, steps must be taken to ensure that existing users can easily convert to the new version and that users understand the benefits of all those changes.

In my next article, ‘Dealing with Radical User Experience Redesigns‘, I discuss how to successfully implement radical redesigns.

February UX Re-cap

Well, February was an extremely busy month, and for the shortest month of the year was packed with quite a few gems from the User Experience community. Here is a re-cap of a few articles and concepts that should not go without mention:

Read More