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Why Improving Your Existing App’s UI/UX Is Not As Easy As It Seems

We are often asked to help update and facelift existing apps. Clients expect this is an easy job, but actually, it's quite the contrary.

June 29, 2021
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User experience has become such a crucial part of the product’s success it defines people’s readiness to buy and use it (and studies from PWC and Walker prove it). And that has been changing the way EGO UI/UX design agency’s clients build the products – they no longer experiment with hypothesis or assumption check (as dictated by the Lean Startup approach) but start with a broad research of the market and user expectations.

And when it comes to improving the user experience of the product, whether it's due to its low popularity, outdatedness, or the need to change its concept and functionality, the risks of failure and losing the existing userbase are huge. If the new design won't be accepted well, most customers won't wait too long for another UX revamp and will switch to your rival's solution.

In this post, we're going to explain how we cope with such requests and reveal the problems arising when you want to improve your product.

Stage 1: Kick-Off Meeting

Everything starts with initial negotiations and synchronization.

Let's say you have a web or mobile app, and you want to make a revamp that will help you improve your key performance indicators.

If you provide this request to your design and development company partner, here are the things they might ask about.

1. How well do you know your user needs, expectations, and behavior?

In response, you can find that your data is too old, or too incomplete for you to be able to make decisions on how to improve your product further. Because of that, your development partner can decide to perform in-depth interviews with your users and perform a few specific kinds of UX research.

2. What UI/UX changes have you done to your app before and why?

Nowadays, apps are updated often. Whether you get rid of bugs, add new functionality, or improve some of the small UX details, after a few iterations you might lose the integrity of the offered user experience you initially offered. Then, your UI/UX partner will need to 'reinvent' it.

Also, the updates you made and users' reactions to them might reveal additional information on the expectations about your product.

3. What do you know about your competitors and how do you stand out among them and position your product?

While this is a classic marketing question, it helps understand the way your UX/UI should be perceived. And it's not just about a general look-and-feel, but the user personas your product targeted at, the way you architect the information, and ultimately, build your product.

It is a situation too common when the answers are either incomplete or outdated. So our kick-off meeting is intended not only to outline the scope of work, but also help understand the amount of information available about the product, the users, and your competitors.

Stage 2: User Interface Analysis

At this point, experts at our UI/UX design company study the functionality, adaptability, responsiveness, and graphics of your product. While this sounds more like quality assurance, there are lots of design guidelines we will check your UI against.

Since design is not about visual aesthetics, but about communication, you'll want this communication to be consistent and clear at all times. For that, we'll analyze the next aspects:

Along with that, we compare the actual functionality, adaptability, and responsiveness offered through the user interface with the initial requirements you had for the product and user expectations. Often it happens that an app was updated so many times that the high standards for important things like accessibility were sacrificed for the wider functionality (or something else) without nobody on the client team noticing it.

Following the best practices of emotional design, our mobile/web design company experts will also figure out what emotions your product intends to cause when it's used. In general terms, we usually speak about satisfaction, but the process of interaction with visual design might also be surprising, joyful, or, say, entertaining thanks to thought-through animations and visual style, and that's also an important part of user experience.

Here are a few examples of user interface issues we might find with your mobile or web app:

An App Screenshot With an Unnoticeable Home Button
The Home button on the top is designed in a way that makes it almost impossible to figure out it is clickable/tappable. Source: EGO

Stage 3: Usability Analysis

A good application should be handy. So we analyze how easy it is to use your product, look for controversial design decisions and make our improvement suggestions.

While every product is unique, there are many various practices we apply during usability analysis:

  1. Whether the interface requires decluttering and if we can make it easier for the users to get to the most used features of the app.
  2. Whether the actions supposed to be done by the user are familiar and intuitive to them
  3. Whether the user journey is consistent throughout the whole process

Within those checks, engineers at our mobile and website application development company can run different tests and gather specific usability data to find the UX shortcomings and fix them. For instance, analytics and heatmap tools can show how easy new users handle the interface, or how many of them complete the desired task.

Here are a few examples of usability issues we've found in clients' products before:

A landing page screenshot with a lot of text in the About us part
Here, the amount of text should be decreased or reformatted to help users focus on priority points. Source: EGO’s client app


Stage 4. Platform guidelines review

If you have a web app, it might be accessed through devices with different screen sizes and with different browsers.

If you have a mobile app, there are multiple Android and iOS versions, each having various guidelines to apps' interfaces. And smartphones now also come in many sizes and even shapes.

That is why making sure your app looks and feels as you want them to is not a trivial task.

The difference of top-of-screen navigation in Android and iOS
Different approaches to the top-of-screen navigation in iOS and Android. Source: https://learnui.design/blog/ios-vs-android-app-ui-design-complete-guide.html

This stage in our UI/UX review is not only about checking your apps' existing interface against the guidelines. Once we come out with suggestions for UI and UX improvements on stages 2 and 3, we need to make sure they also follow the guidelines for the selected platforms once implemented in your product.

Stage 5. Product presentation

After the analysis is complete, it's important to present our suggestions in a visually clear way. That is why we make wireframes or a clickable prototype of an improved version of your product.

In addition to that, we explain, how quickly the suggested changes can be implemented and what is the outcome that they are expected to bring so that you could make an informed decision on your further steps.

In our work, we are always driven by maximum transparency, so that you could always be aware of what is going on on the project and if it needs intervention or adjusting its course. Due to that, our UI/UX agency finds the product presentation a stage too important to overlook.

And Then There’s Implementation

Once UX/UI improvements are suggested and approved, you'll need to implement, test, and maintain them.

Even if the changes are minor, you'll want to make sure they don't compromise the security expectations. And don't cause any unexpected bugs with the untouched functionality. And don't create performance bottlenecks in case of user base growth.

So while there's no doubt UI/UX is the most important aspect of your product upgrade, it implies many other kinds of works that are required to be done in order to have the desired effect on your KPIs.

That’s is why updating your app is an endeavor that should be taken with all seriousness and responsibility. Yet if you have a reliable UI/UX company partner, your next upgrade is going to be stress-free and smooth.

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