Why Re-Designs Fail

Sign that says FAILYour product (website, software, app, device) is seriously under-performing and it’s time to fix it. You’ve lined up the resources, and freed up the budget. You’re about to spend a HUGE amount of time, money, and resources. It’s going to fix all the problems, right? And the new product will bring you the business/conversions/numbers you are looking for, right? It better, because it’s going to take a monumental effort and cash to tackle this.

What if it doesn’t live up to expectations. What if the new product doesn’t fix the old problems. What if the new product creates new problems. These are headaches you don’t want.

So how can you prevent spending time and money? How can you be sure that the new product will get you the returns you are looking for? Here are the top 5 reasons I’ve seen that cause product re-designs to fail.

  1. Your re-design is based on opinion not fact – You’ve made a lot of assumptions about your target audience and what they want/need to do with your product, but they are assumptions and they haven’t been tested or verified.
  2. Your re-design is based on data, but wrong conclusions – You didn’t just work from assumptions, you actually did collect data, but your interpretation of the data was in-accurate and so your re-design decisions lead you astray.
  3. Not enough collaboration – Your re-design decisions are based on accurate data, and your interpretation of the data is sound, but you didn’t involve your stakeholders and your development team in the design. When it’s time to implement the design you get a lot of pushback, and your design changes don’t see the light of day.
  4. Designs are implemented without testing – Your re-design decisions are based on data, and you implemented them, but you didn’t test the re-design. If you had prototyped and tested the re-designed product you could have tested all of your assumptions and design decisions, and corrected the ones that didn’t work out as expected before finalizing the new product.
  5. Technology takes over – You are doing so well. You gather data, design based on the data, prototype, test, and iterate. But after the iteration of the prototype the implementation team swoops in, and the technology decisions take over the design decisions.

If you can avoid these 5 problems then your re-design will get you the conversions you are looking forward. Watch out, though, because if you can’t avoid these problems then you are likely throwing your time and money down the drain.

What do you think? Have you encountered these problems in any of your re-designs? Do you think these are the most important 5?

If you’d like more detail on these 5 problems and what to do about them, then download the whitepaper Why Re-Designs Fail.

Apply For A Free Engagement Audit And Re-Design

Starting in a few weeks I will  (again) be  teaching a semester course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, on “Designing for Engagement” in the Web and Digital Media Development department. In the class we use “real life” case studies as the students learn how to evaluate a product for usability and engagement, and then do a re-design.

The students are mainly juniors and seniors. They are quite talented, and they work really hard.

If you have a project/product that you would like evaluated or re-designed to be more usable and more engaging, you can apply for us to use your product as a case study. There is no fee. It’s all FREE.

Here is what we are looking for:

A product/project that is a website, app, or other digital product

It has to e an existing product or at least a prototype. We aren’t able to design from scratch.

The product has to be something that is relatively easy for the students and I to learn about. In other words, your app that programs pacemakers in the operating room is probably not going to work.

You or a member of your team, have to be available in the October/November/Early December time frame via email and conference call so that the students can communicate with you about the project. Typically there are a few emails at the start, perhaps one conference call, and then the end result is your re-design and a video explaining it.

If you are interested, here’s what you need to submit to me via email (send to susan@theteamw.com:

Your Name:

Your Contact Info:

Brief Description of the product/website/app etc:

Brief Description of your usability and engagement challenges:

Instructions of how we can access the product

Who the product is for/users/visitors/intended audience:

What the users/visitors/intended audience want to do with the product:

What YOU want them to do with the product:

 

Let me know if you have questions, and thanks in advance for submitting your product for a possible evaluation and design

 

 

 

5 Favorite Tips From Famous UX Experts

31--2I attended and spoke at the Virtual conference from Rosenfeld Media today “31 Awesomely Practical UX Tips”.  Each speaker presented their favorite user experience tips. I took one tip from each of the speakers as my favorite. Here they are:

Steve Krug — Test your competition/comparables. Before you choose a design path or design idea, find someone else who is doing it and run a user test of their site/app/product. That way you can see what works and what doesn’t before you even start your design.

Whitney Quesenbery — Many of the best designs we all use started out as products designed for accessibility, for example, rolling mail carts for postal delivery people (started off being used by women since it wasn’t believed they could carry a heavy load) and Good Grips tools from OXO (started as special tools for people with arthritis, but now they are just known as well-designed tools).

Jeffrey Eisenberg — Instead of designing to fit your selling process and selling cycle, design instead to fit the customer’s BUYING process and buying cycle. These are not the same thing.

Aaron Walter — Stop designing in Photoshop. Use something like Bootstrap where you can see what things really look like and you can concentrate on the “system” not the “page”.

Luke Wroblewski — 75% of people using smartphone apps are using one thumb — Have you designed for one thumb use?

It was a GREAT day of learning. It was hard to just pick one from each!

 

Get FREE Advice & Help Train The Next Generation

Would you like to get FREE advice on how to create a more engaging product, website, or app? Starting this January I will be teaching a semester course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, on “Designing for Engagement” in the Web and Digital Media Development department. In the class we will be using “real life” case studies for evaluation of engagement, re-design, and design. If you have a project/product that you would like evaluated or re-designed to be more engaging submit it for consideration as one of our case studies. You will receive free advice and you will be helping to train the next generation of designers.

Here’s what you need to submit:

Your Name:

Your Contact Info:

Brief Description of the product/website/app etc:

Brief Description of your engagement challenges:

Instructions of how we can access the product:

Who the product is for/users/visitors/intended audience:

What the users/visitors/intended audience want to do with the product:

What YOU want them to do with the product:

Let me know if you have questions, and thanks in advance for submitting your product for a possible evaluation and/or re-design/design

 

 

 

5 Ways A Task Analysis Results In Great Design

 

Picture of a task analysis flowchart

A task analysis is the one document that really spells out what the users’ experience is going to be before you design anything at all.

I think the process of task analysis ,and the document that comes out of the process, are some of the most interesting and useful things one does as a UX Designer or a usability specialist.

I also think that task analyses are underappreciated. It does takes time, energy and creative thought to come up with a useful task analysis and people are usually “chomping at the bit” to start design. They often don’t want to create a task analysis first.

So I decided to create a course on “How To Develop & Document A Task Analysis”. And then I put together this short video on 5 Ways a Task Analysis Results In Great Design:

 

 

Here’s a summary of the video.

5 Ways A Task Analysis Results In Great Design 

  1. Quickly & efficiently document how the users are going to get their task done — Before you start storyboarding, designing screens, or creating user requirements documents, try creating a task analysis first. When you do a task analysis before design you are deciding on the most important and critical tasks and detailing in a simple diagram how the user is going to accomplish each one. All the work you do after this will be much more efficient because you will have hashed through lots of alternatives early on.
  2. Use the task analysis document to communicate critical design decisions BEFORE design — Not only will the task analysis help you in your design, it will help you communicate with others — stakeholders, programmers, visual designers.
  3. Get design agreement on the user experience early & upfront — By working on a task analysis you are making design decisions before design. So your whole team is coming to agreement on what the design will be like early and before design begins.
  4. Save time & re-work — Because you have worked through a lot of design decisions in order to create the task analysis you can save a lot of time and rework later. Instead of starting on design and then having to change all your storyboards or prototypes, you can work through the issues and decisions about the user experience before design and save yourself a lot of rework.
  5. Ensure that the design is accepted by the team AND matches the way your users want to do a task — When you work together with your team on the task analysis you are making a series of decisions that everyone buys into as the task analysis document gets created. Not only that, because a task analysis is describing how the users are going to complete a task, you are ensuring that the users’ point of view and desired process is incorporated into the task analysis. So when you design from the task analysis you will be designing a user experience the way the users want to do it.
Task analysis — the unsung hero of a user centered design process!
What do you think? Do you develop task analyses documents before you design?

 

If you are interested in the new course check it out at Udemy.com. And if you decide to try it, use the code 0812 during August for a special discount.

 

4 Ways Personas & Scenarios Result In Great Design

 

Drawing of stick people connected by dotted lines

I find myself these days working on two streams: on the one hand I’m working on my next new project (which is another book called “How To Get People To Do Stuff”) and on the other hand I’m recording a series of online training videos that cover the basics of doing usable design. Sometimes I think we get all caught up in new stuff and new ideas (Pinterest! apps!) and forget about the great stuff we’ve all worked hard to figure out… like personas and scenarios!

Developing and documenting personas and scenarios as part of a design process is not new. It’s been around for at least 30 years, and maybe more. But I was recently reminded of how powerful they both are in ensuring you do great design.

So in case you have forgotten WHY using personas and scenarios on your project results in great design, or in case you never knew, or in case you know but sometimes have a hard time explaining it to others, you can use this blog post, and the short video that goes with it, to remind yourself and/or explain to others.

I took excerpts from my latest online video course, “How to Develop & Document Personas & Scenarios”. to make a short video on the 4 Ways Personas & Scenarios Result In Great Design:

 

Here’s a summary of the video.

4 Ways Personas & Scenarios Result in Great Design

 1. Bring assumptions into the open — When you do design there is always a moment (actually dozens or hundreds of moments) when you are deciding something. For example, should I put the button here? What should I call this? Should I separate this into 2 pages? Whether you are aware of it or not, at that moment you are making that decision, you have many assumptions operating about your audience, who they are, what they are trying to accomplish, etc. Some of those assumptions are based on your knowledge and facts, other assumptions are probably biased, as in, “I think this would be best” (implying your audience will think so too, but that might not be the case, since you are likely not your audience). When you take some time to develop personas and scenarios before design then you are bringing all these assumptions out in the open. You can see if your assumptions are the same as your other team members. You can see if your assumptions can be validated.

2. Ensure you are designing what your audience needs & wants — How can you design what your audience needs and wants if you don’t know what they need and want?! When you go through the process of creating personas and scenarios you are collecting data on what people really need and want, not just what you think they need and want.

3. Design for what is critical & important, not the exception — The process of creating personas and scenarios is the process of deciding “if we can’t design for everyone doing everything then let’s concentrate on the most important users doing the most important things.” You have to identify what’s important, what’s frequent, what’s critical, and what’s an exception. Then when you design you can be sure you are designing for what 80% of the people need/want to do 80% of the time, instead of being distracted too much by exceptions — things that rarely occur or aren’t that important.

4. Communicate clearly — How many times have you left a meeting sure that everyone is all in agreement about the audience and the scenarios for the product you are designing. But if you don’t document those decisions they are easily forgotten, or they change over time. When you create personas and scenarios you have documents that you can use throughout the project to communicate clearly to other team members, as well as stakeholders, what the decisions and design parameters are.

 

What do you think? How do you think personas and scenarios help create great design? Are they used in your organization?

For more on personas & scenarios, you can watch the first couple of lessons of the new course for free.

  

 

Gamestorming — An Interview With Author Dave Gray

Picture of Dave Gray
Dave Gray

I actually can’t remember how I came upon the book Gamestorming. I probably read a review of it on one of the blogs I regularly read. I ordered the book and started reading it right before I was going to leave for a trip to meet with a client team. The book is full of design “games” and other group activities that you can do with teams. I read through it to see if there were some new ideas I could use for my meeting. I picked out two “games” to use with my client. They were a great success, making the meeting more productive, efficient, and fun for me and the team.

I contacted one of the authors, Dave Gray, to see if he would be willing to do a podcast interview with me.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link

In the interview we talk about:

  • Different ways to do brainstorming that are more interesting and more effective
  • An interesting activity called “dot voting” that I tried out at my meeting
  • The history of the corportate meeting, and how meetings have evolved over time
  • Why having someone facilitate a meeting is a bad idea and what to do instead
  • Why design games and meeting games can make your meetings and sessions more powerful and productive
  • A low-tech social network “game” you can use with up to 100 people in the room that makes invisible connections tangible and visible
  • A quick simple “game” you can use to help keep your meetings on task and on time.

Have you read the book? If so, comment on what you think.

Here’s a link to Amazon if you are interested in the book:

 

Here’s how to contact Dave Gray and get more info:

website for the book: Gogamestorm.com

twitter for Dave: @davegray

 

Do people have relationships with forms?: Podcast with author Caroline Jarrett

Photo of Caroline Jarrett
Caroline Jarrett

I met Caroline Jarrett in 2010 in Lisbon Portugal, where we were both speaking at a conference.  Caroline is a usability consultant in the UK, and she specializes in designing forms. She has a great book, Forms That Work. In this podcast Caroline and I have a fun conversation about designing usable forms.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link
In this podcast we talk about:

  • How to design usable forms
  • Why you should think about “relationship” and “conversation” when you are designing forms
  • The ubiquitous argument: do you put colons or not at the end of field labels?
  • and lots of other fun and interesting topics. It’s all about forms.

What do you think are some of the most interesting points Caroline makes in the interview?

Caroline’s twitter address is: @cjforms
And for more information about Caroline’s book:

Design Challenge Part 2

Picture of the current home page of ilovebluesea.com
Current home page of ilovebluesea.com

A few weeks ago I asked my blog readers to help with design ideas for Martin Reed’s Ilovebluesea.com website. (See the earlier post for the design challenge instructions and to listen to a short interview with Martin).

Many of you wrote in via comments to the blog and through email. (Thank you!) Martin wrote up a summary of the suggestions that you made for the Ilovebluesea.com website:

1. Improve clarity on shipping details – how cost/timeframe/packaging materials all work
2. Improve the competitive advantage content and make more visible on home page  – perhaps bold words ‘sustainable’, ‘fresh’ ‘quality’
3. Daily Specials work – leave this alone
4.  Move cart to top right of pages
5. Sell the newsletter more
6. Make information on product pages more fun!  More visuals such as location or harvest method.  Perhaps ‘save’ fish with low bycatch, show how many gallons of water you’ve cleaned by ordering oysters, etc.
7. Increase prominence of FB/twitter/blog – perhaps offer incentives, like discounts, entry in contest, etc for sharing
8. Remove ‘Home’ from heading tabs
9. Try using colors that inspire purchasing behavior, ie orange, red
10. Add categories to home page to start shopping experience
11. Increase content on product pages.  Perhaps summarize the links on sustainability.
12. Remove pricing from product titles since it changes
13. Is there a way to graphically represent how we work (ordering, shipping, less middlemen)?
14. Calls to action should be contrasting colors
I got back on with Martin to find out which of these suggestions he was going to implement first. Here’s a short audio interview with him I did this week:
Thank you to everyone for your ideas, and I’ll let you know when Martin has the new website up for us to look at.