Friday, December 17, 2010

You Need to Redesign Your Product

Iterate, iterate, iterate. If there is something that I hear from lean startups more than “pivot” and “fail” it’s that iterating on your product is the way to improve it. And I absolutely believe that iteration is critical to making great features and products.

The problem is, sometimes just improving what you’ve got isn’t enough. Every so often, from a UX perspective anyway, you just need to throw everything out and start from scratch.

I’m not necessarily talking about reskinning the site with a new visual design, although that sometimes has to be done. Sometimes you also need to completely reorganize and refocus everything about your product’s user experience.

Of course, this can be incredibly expensive and time consuming, so it’s not something that you want to do unless it’s really necessary.

Here are a few signs that you may need to do a complete product redesign:

There’s No Room for Your New Feature

A big part of lean startups is coming up with lots of new feature ideas and throwing them in front of users to see what sticks. Another big part is killing the features that don’t make the cut, but that can be hard to do.

There comes a time in the life of every lean startup where they have a new feature that doesn’t quite fit within the navigation and structure of the rest of the product.

Often this new feature is not quite a pivot, but it may be the first step in that direction. Maybe you’re adding a social component to an ecommerce application or you’re adding games or a marketplace to a social site.

Or maybe you’ve just run out of room on your front page, and you simply can’t add another widget.

Whatever the reason, when you have a new feature that you can’t logically fit anywhere into your product, it’s probably time to do an overhaul, or at least a reorganization. It’s probably also a great time to go through and kill some of those underperforming features in order to make room for the new stuff.

You’ve Added a “Miscellaneous” Section to Your Navigation

Ever been tempted to add a section to your product navigation called “Misc.” or “Other” or “Stuff”? Yeah, we’ve all wanted to do it. DON’T.