When you think about upgrading the design of your cloud-based application, you know it’s going to cost some extra money to pay your developers to implement the changes. Is it worth it? Well, that depends on why you’re updating the design.
If you simply want your design to look better, that’s a decent reason to redesign if you have the budget. However, if your user experience is struggling, it’s definitely time for a redesign.
Upgrading your design upgrades user experience
Improving the user interface and making your application easier to use can be accomplished through upgrading specific elements in the design. These elements can include navigation systems, colors, images, and even the placement of tools.
You can learn a lot about the impact of upgrading your application design by observing the evolution of some popular websites that have upgraded their designs over the years to foster a better user experience like Google, Facebook, and Craigslist.
1. Google upgraded the way search results get sorted
Today, Google search offers helpful sorting features that didn’t exist during its launch in 1996. You can now sort your search results by media type including video, images, and even books. The information has always been there, but when Google upgraded their design with these sorting features, they instantly upgraded the site’s usability.
If you’re looking for ways to enhance the user experience for your application, ask yourself if there’s a better way you can organize your information so it can be more easily found. You might find that simply adjusting the words used to label your navigation links can make a huge difference.
2. Facebook went from chunky to pixel-perfect
Facebook is another great example of a website that has seen some major design upgrades over the years that have positively impacted usability.
When it began in 2004 as a networking website for Harvard students, the pages were cluttered with thick, outlined boxes for every piece of content. And the design allowed profile photos of all sizes, so the friends list feature was a mess. As Facebook became available to everyone, the design morphed into a seamless, pixel-perfect blend of lightly contrasting colors with photos lined up in perfect rows.
When thinking about your application design, ask yourself if you can create more symmetry and continuity in the design of your user interface. The more symmetry and smooth lines you can create, the longer people will be able to use your application comfortably.
3. Craigslist added a simple thumbnail image view
While Craigslist is still fairly plain, its developers have added simple features that allow users to view thumbnail images for all items in a search, without having to click on each ad. This small but significant alteration has transformed the user experience from time consuming to quick and easy.
Ask yourself if you can apply this simple type of adjustment to improve usability. What information do your users have to work really hard to get? What barriers can you remove that will allow them to reach that content faster and easier?
Outdated designs use crude navigation
Outdated designs aren’t much of a problem if the website is easy to navigate. But older designs rely on crude forms of navigation that have since been replaced with better methods.
Most minds behind popular websites understand this and have taken the time to evolve their designs. However, not everyone has seen the light (yet).
Take DrudgeReport.com, for example. Launched twenty years ago in 1997, the only apparent change is the addition of advertisements across the pages. They’re still using the same typography and even the same columnar layout displaying black, underlined links to each article.
How do you create a good design?
If you’re seriously considering redesigning your application to create a better user experience but don’t know where to start, the best thing you can do is learn from someone else who has experienced a thorough design process.
Dialpad is one company that has shared an outline of their design process, used to create the user interface of their conference-calling platform, Uberconference.
Beginning with a brainstorming session, they gathered all of their ideas in the form of sketches. Then, they took it a step further and contacted their target audience consisting of IT professionals, office managers, and executives, to find out about their communication habits and what they were doing to make things work.
They figured out where those people had unmet needs, and they designed their application and interface in order to meet those needs.
How can you better meet the needs of your users?
Perhaps the two questions to ask yourself before redesigning your cloud-based application should be:
- What are the unmet needs of my users?
- How can I meet those needs?
Even if you’ve already launched, it’s never too late to consider a redesign to meet newly discovered needs, and make your application easier for people to use.