Companies with successful software products often know that their user interfaces could be improved but hesitate to take action because major changes might upset their existing users. “Not only would a redesign cost me a small fortune,” one executive told Macadamian “but look at the backlash against Google and Facebook’s changes. I’m not willing to risk losing customers over design.”
Indeed, Google, Twitter, and Facebook caused quite a stir recently by making dramatic changes to their UIs. In less than 24 hours, hundreds of users formed a coalition against the new Gmail, with a mission to “urge Google to fix the horrid new Gmail interface and take us back to productivity.” And Facebook users began posting “If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” banners to express their dissatisfaction.
But for every example of a redesign gone wrong, there is a success story of a company blasting ahead of its competitors by reinventing its product design. Salesforce.com’s dominance in the CRM market, for example, is largely attributable to its innovative design updates.
The risks associated with not updating a UI outweigh those associated with an update. But a successful redesign absolutely requires the right product management and UX techniques to evolve the product carefully and avoid a user revolt.
About the Author
Scott Plewes is an expert in user experience design, user research, and incorporating the voice of the customer into product design. As Vice President of User Experience Design at Macadamian, Scott has 20 years of experience in the field of user experience design, working in both the public and private sector. Scott's experience covers the spectrum from desktop, web, and mobile experience design through to even command line and telephony design; and well as a wide range of enterprise and consumer products. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org