The design team at Atlantbh is continuously exploring best design practices and establishing new design processes for team and company needs. The UI/UX and product designers are taking every opportunity to pass on lessons we’ve learned working on our projects and build a base of guidelines for future use. One such lesson to disclose was the case of a redesign requirement on one of our projects.
The client’s intention to redesign an internal app has given us the opportunity to define a general strategy for redesign processes that have been missing at Atlantbh.
A well-planned digital product redesign strategy considers all aspects of the process as crucial to its success and longevity. Flexible deadlines gave us enough time to prepare a thorough action plan for the redesign process with respect to corporate strategic and design thinking.
And guess what? Comprehensive planning of this deliberate approach has paid out, and the redesign project has been handled splendidly.
The purpose of this blog is to present the redesign strategy we’ve applied and propose an approach that could be observed on different projects in Atlantbh.
What is Redesign?
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works,” – Steve Jobs.
The end goal of the redesign is to optimize and improve digital product functionality by solving existing problems while meeting business, user experience, and accessibility requirements.
Prior to the redesign, it’s crucial to perform a holistic review and evaluation of the app’s current design and performance. This helps identify critical areas of improvement of the app, assess existing user flows, and detect problems, distractions, or pain points that prevent users from taking the desired actions. This product evaluation is also called a UX audit.
UX audits play a meaningful role in the redesign process because they allow the designer to identify what currently works, what doesn’t, and what might be missing and find out what’s considered “best practice” and why. Key takeaways from undertaking a UX audit will determine the direction of the new design.
A thorough action plan for the redesign process is key to its success and longevity. (Image Source)
Stages of Redesign
We’ve organized the complete redesign process in the following subsequent stages:
1. USABILITY HEURISTIC EVALUATION
The easiest and cheapest way to perform a UX audit is to conduct a usability heuristic evaluation, as it’s a method that can be conducted in-house by a single or a few evaluators with no costs for additional tools, resources, or people. It is a UX method that compares individual components of UI against the established usability principles.
In user experience (UX) design, professional evaluators use heuristic evaluation to determine a design’s/product’s usability systematically. As experts, they go through a checklist of criteria to find flaws that design teams overlook.
This evaluation is a good starting point to get to know the digital product from the point of its usability issues without getting distracted or biased by business logic or actual user pain points.
The evaluators’ task is identifying design flaws, usability inconsistencies, and logical gaps in the user interface. It’s very important to document every problematic area by taking notes and screenshots.
Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics (Image Source)
2. SPECIFYING BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
The first step we took to approach the redesign was specifying business objectives. The client initiated the idea for a redesign, so we wanted to identify business goals regarding the app and its redesign. This practically meant that we needed to learn how different stakeholders perceive their product and how they define its value proposition.
Having a clear vision of the product from the client’s point of view leads the conversation into what their expectations of redesign and its scope might be. It’s also essential to discover what challenges clients see in the current design and where they see an opportunity for improvements.
For this purpose, we conducted interviews with different stakeholders. The interviews should take place in the following steps:
- Appoint individuals from the team to decide on adequate stakeholders to talk to.
- Prepare interview questions having in mind the following points:
- Product’s value proposition (benefits of the product for customers and the client)
- Vision for brand and business (product history, competitors)
- Motivation for a redesign (current challenges, potential improvements)
- Feedback and design handoff arrangements (design constraints, design approval process, scope, deadlines).
- Contact the stakeholders, introduce them to our aim and invite them to a 30-45 minute interview.
- Conduct the interviews, record meetings, and take notes.
- Write summary reports after interviews.
The result of specifying business objectives gives us answers to the following questions:
- Why was the app designed in the first place, and how does it communicate its initial purpose now;
- Which specific business goals are the app helping clients to achieve;
- What challenges have the stakeholders noticed with it;
- What would the client like to see improved?
3. USER RESEARCH
As much as it is crucial to address clients’ expectations in design, it goes without saying that understanding the user perspective is of the ultimate value for UX designers. Knowing your users’ needs is necessary when designing or redesigning a digital product. To get insight from users, UX designers perform qualitative or quantitative user research, depending on the need of the project.
We decided to conduct qualitative research with our users to gather information on users. We run user interviews to understand how users perform tasks within the app and why they behave the way they do. For this purpose, the following steps should be taken:
- Find representable users for interviews.
- Prepare questions and individual tasks for users.
- Contact interviewees and invite them to a 45-60 minute interview.
- Conduct the interviews, record meetings, and take notes.
- Write summary reports after interviews.
After the interviews, we should be able to have the answers to the following questions:
- What are the demographics of our users;
- What do they try to accomplish using our app;
- What is preventing them from achieving their goals?
The next step in user research is to create the user persona (prototype of a typical user) and define a user journey map (a diagram visually illustrating user flows within the app). This helps UX designers contextualize and document how users meet their needs, ex. which steps each user persona takes as they interact with the app.
4. UX AUDIT REPORT
Upon finishing the previous stages, it is critical to take time to collect all findings in a detailed report. This report should include the following:
- Project description and audit goals
- Interview findings (stakeholder and user expectations)
- User personas and user journey map
- Results of usability heuristics evaluation of the app
- Priorities recommendations
At this point, the scope of the redesign is defined by aligning user goals, business expectations, and development estimates. The team can subsequently prioritize requirements and estimate the follow-up redesign stages.
5. WIREFRAMING AND PROTOTYPING
The most creative part of the redesign process is transforming ideas into tangible solutions. This is where designers draw low-fidelity wireframes, create new design systems, develop high-fidelity prototypes and validate proposals with stakeholders and users.
When initiating this stage, it is essential to keep iterations rapid and not get stuck in the process. From our experience, the best way to approach wireframing is to organize a design sprint.
A design sprint is a fast-paced, user-centered method for solving big problems through design. A systematic approach and efficient time management are essential to the five-day design sprint.
The main value of sprints is the speed at which design teams can concentrate on one or more user needs and sharply defined goals. Under time-boxed conditions, team members work first to understand these and then progressively ideate, critique, and fine-tune their way toward a testable prototype.
The efficiency of the design sprint is apparent not only in its speed but also in dynamic and focused collaboration and experimentation with a wider variety of ideas. Besides designers, the sprint team consists of a decision-maker role, executed by the product owner or product manager, who is accountable for decisions made within the sprint. Including a tech lead from the developer and the QA side in the design sprint is essential to align the solutions implementation-wise.
The design sprint we have organized for this purpose has been fruitful because all previous stages of the redesign process have been systematically completed. The team was made of five designers, one of which had the sprint facilitator role, the project manager with the decider role, the lead developer on the project, and a QA engineer working on the app before the redesign.
The tech part of the team has prepared an insightful demo presentation of how the current app works and looks to the rest of the team, after which a stimulating Q&A session took place. The design team was smoothly onboarded on the project.
After the knowledge transfer session, the team took time to dive into the comprehensive UX audit report and understand the stakeholders’ expectations, users, and pain points. User personas helped the team get closer to our users, and the user flows were discussed and challenged.
Design Sprint Day 3 – Challenging yet Fun Designers Collaboration
Our design sprint goal was to test and validate at least one complete user flow and introduce a new landing page for the app. By the end of the fifth day, our designers’ team has exceeded the initial goal. We prototyped four user flows and validated them with an internal user, and we have completed a high-fidelity proposal for the landing page. The sprint agenda was described as “conservative,” yet the flexibility of the team and its PO made this success story happen.
A great tip learned from this experience is to keep the expectations achievable to use the maximum potential of resources during the design sprint. The key to a successful design sprint is comprehensive preparation and keeping up with the defined plan to land the desired outcome.
After the iterative creative development and prototyping, it’s significant to validate design proposals with clients and users, especially if there have been substantial changes in the UI or UX. Testing the prototype should answer whether the redesign meets the need in the best possible way.
The breakdown of the full redesign process into six stages has helped us deliver the desired outcomes productively and systematically. Each stage had different aims and results, but they were necessary for the realization of the project.
We’ve learned a lot along with defining the adequate redesign strategy for our project. However, the most valuable takeaway is that with excellent and profound preparation, no unexpected scenarios could affect the result negatively.
I hope sharing this confirmed and corroborating redesign process strategy can help other designers and PO/PMs in upcoming redesign projects at Atlantbh.
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