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App redesigns are almost always a formidable project and should not be undertaken likely — they require a significant number of resources to plan and execute and occasionally are not even needed. Redesigning an app isn’t a decision that should be made on a whim and it’s important to make sure there’s a genuine need for it first.

Why should you redesign your app?

Old design

No matter how good your developers are, no app design is truly future-proof. Consumer tastes, aesthetic sensibilities, and design trends all change over time — and the design of your application needs to keep up if you want to stay competitive.

You only have to look back a couple of years to see how quickly and dramatically design trends can change. If your users see an outdated design when they use your app, it can negatively impact customer experience and even reflect badly on your company.

Outdated technology

Rapidly evolving technology can make apps look dated and feel clunky. The emergence of things like NFC, Facial Recognition, and new languages like Swift requires every developer to keep their ear to the ground at the risk of losing users. Relying on antiquated or outdated technology can give your company a serious disadvantage, especially when coupled with the Aesthetic-Usability Effect.

Poor user feedback

Few things sound the alarm regarding app usability and design like user feedback — consistent bad reviews are often the catalyst for a redesign and can even sink an app before it can course correct.

On one hand, there’s no disputing that listening to your customers is the best way to learn what’s working and what isn’t. If you’re getting frequent complaints that it’s hard to use or low app ratings, it might be time to start thinking about reworking the UX. On the other hand, there is truth to the idea that only angry customers complain. It’s important to review feedback alongside your metrics (mentioned below) to get a well-rounded view of what people think — otherwise, you risk fixing something that’s not broken.

It’s also important to note that bad metrics should not be acted on without user reviews, if you’ve got the former without the latter then it’s time to start soliciting feedback via in-app messaging, email surveys, and user interviews.

Change in brand/business model

If you’re rebranding or pivoting your business model, you’ll need to redesign your app to keep it in line with these changes. Changing your business model will likely require a complete app overhaul with fundamental structural changes in user flows. If you’re simply rebranding, the process is a lot less daunting and you might be able to get away with only tweaking the UI and microcopy.

Bag engagement metrics

In addition to feedback, user data and performance metrics can also give you a good indication of whether or not your current app design is firing on all cylinders. Tools like Mixpanel, Heap, and even Google Analytics make it easy to measure how users interact with your app, what features are working, and where you’re coming up short.If you’re a newcomer to app metrics, here are some of the most important to look at:

User Retention – Thistells you how many users continue to use your app over time. If you have a lower retention rate than expected based on industry benchmarks, it might signal that you could benefit from improving your app’s “stickiness”.

Adoption–This metric indicates what percentage of your users continue to use your app after registration or purchase. Low adoption rates might signal a frustrating UX.

Conversion Rates– This tells you the percentage of app users that take the desired action (i.e., paying for a premium license). Low conversion rates are another sign that it might be time to rethink the design.

How should you redesign your app?

If it’s clear that your app is coming up short despite your best efforts, it’s time to spend some resources figuring out how to fix it. The result could be iterative improvements or a complete overhaul, and the steps below will give you more insight into just how intensive this process might be.

Set Goals & KPIs

The first step is to make sure you’re clear on exactly what it is you want to accomplish with the redesign. A good place to start is to look at your current user metrics and set goals for where you want them to be after the update. These goals will guide your developers and, after you’ve launched, you can use your KPIs as a benchmark to evaluate your success.Some useful metrics to look at include:

  • Activation Rates
  • Goal Completion
  • Drop-off Rates
  • Active Users

If you’ve done your user research, you should see the numbers moving in the right direction post-redesign.

User Interviews

The next step is to conduct user interviews and gather feedback on how your customers are using your current app and what they’d like to see change in future versions. You can pair this with regular user feedback to help guide your design plans.

Research competitors

In addition to user feedback, it’s important to look at what your competitors are doing. At the very least you should be eyeing other apps in your industry to become familiar with them, but it’s even better if you incorporate them into your user interview for first-hand feedback.There’s no shame in taking inspiration from your competition and we even recommend reviewing their changelogs to see what has been updated recently and which features have existed for a long time.

Identify core problems, solutions, and improvements

A big part of the UX design process is understanding the customer journey. Knowing how your users flow through and interact with your app can help you to identify any friction points or problems that prevent them from taking the ideal steps.

A great way to get an overview of your user flows is to create a visual customer journey map. You can then use this to look for bottlenecks and see where your customers are dropping off (app analytics will make this easier).

The result should be a list of issues that your future update aims to fix — this may be a long list at first but it’s important to list and document anything you’ve identified. Even if you don’t address it all in the near term, having it on your roadmap will save you time later.

Private Feedback

After you’ve identified trouble spots but before you start developing fixes, it’s vital to get outside feedback. This can be internal via people not involved with the app, or through third party groups, you turn to for advice.The goal here is a sanity check: It’s entirely possible to operate in an echo chamber. Making your case plus outlining your plan of attack to outsiders is a great way to ensure it all makes sense.

Where to start with your app redesign

Not every app needs a redesign — it’s entirely possible to get caught up in a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mindset and update your app for no reason other than vanity.

Our advice is to let the data speak for itself — review your KPIs regularly, become familiar with industry benchmarks, and tap into your network to understand other apps. If you find your app is lacking (or lagging) in regards to your business goals, allocate some resources to dig deeper to know your users better.

Their feedback coupled with your data should give you some clear places to start – approaching this any other way makes it likely you will spend too much money, focus on the wrong areas, or create something nobody likes.

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