When to Redesign Your Legacy System

From the beginning

You started your product from just an idea. Today, you have an app with REAL users, and possibly even sustainable revenue. You launched the app several years ago when apps were new and the competitive landscape was barren. You started building a product which has evolved by adding features on top of the original product.

But you sense that something is wrong. You've heard water cooler talk of how the app needs to be redesigned in order to grow, and the list of new feature requests keeps growing.

It's difficult to escape the Frankenstein nature of product development and still move quickly.

So the question is, when do you need to consider a full redesign?

1. Have your customer service requests grown rapidly?

Your customer service and technical support phones have been lighting up causing you to expand your service teams. The calls just keep coming. People do not understand how to use your software in the way their business model works. Over time you've layered feature on top of feature creating design debt. This design debt degrades the user experience to the point where the simplest task becomes difficult for new and existing users. If this sounds like you, it's time to rethink the user experience of the app. Focus on breaking down your app users into Personas and then map out how they'd want to use the app.

2. Are your power users creating their own workarounds to do their job more efficiently?

It is common for power users to manipulate the app to make it work for them. The most commonly requested feature is advanced keyboard shortcuts, but it doesn’t have to be limited to just the keyboard. Most early apps had a very small set of keyboard shortcuts if any at all. The issue is that the power users then teach other users the work arounds which cause confusion when onboarding new hires and overcomplicates the app for normal workers, killing efficiency.

3. Are you losing customers to competitors based on “ease of use” or modern look and feel?

Your sales team is reporting that they are losing sales because other solutions are easier to use, more efficient, or a more "modern looking" solution. We see this all the time with new clients. Look and feel can be subjective, but when comparing apples to apples, a modern design tells prospects that your app is reliable, up to date, and constantly getting better. Users expect a great user experiences in today’s digital age. In a competitive landscape, users chose products that are simple, easy to use, and add value to their life.

4. Have You customized your product for specific clients/customer segments?

When launching a new product, it is common for software companies to cave to user demands in order to sign a new client. This is understandable - every dollar counts! However, if these features aren’t properly thought out, they become an afterthought, and results in glaring inconsistencies in ongoing design and the development of your app. But that's not all - this approach results in a code base that's severely fragile due to what's known as technical debt. This means that your design and development teams will take significantly longer to roll out specific features.

5. Have new competitors entered your market?

Your app had market penetration. Others noticed and went after you offering similar apps. Customers love choices and with several app offerings that do roughly the same thing, it is easy to lose market share. This is when you need to key in on at least a couple differentiators that make your app stand alone. Should you focus on an easier Onboarding process for new customers? Maybe offer new, innovative features that make your end users (not customer’s decision maker) jobs easier? Talk to your customers to understand what's missing and then integrate new feature development into your roadmap for redesign.

So what is your outdated product actually costing you?

Take our Product Redesign Assessment now and see if you need to rethink your approach:

Scoring: If you score:
80%-100% - You are probably good for a year or two
60%-80% - You should probably get this discussion on the agenda for the next product meeting
below 60% - You should make this your top priority

Create your own user feedback survey

Published November 14th, 2017 by:
  • Derek Rudd