How Companies Can Prevent User Backlash After a Redesign

by on 10/17/13 at 2:08 pm

Have you ever visited a website you loved and found that everything on the user interface has changed? When a company wants to improve their website experience for their users, they redesign the interface. However, sometimes those good intentions end up backfiring, and users get upset with the new changes. User backlashes often happen with site redesigns because companies don’t test their interface before they redesign it.

Most recently, it happened to Yahoo Mail, and many users are expressing their annoyance and disapproval with the new interface. Yahoo might have made their interface better in some areas, but there are many areas of the old design that didn’t need changing. It’s wrong to redesign an interface with the assumption that the old design is all bad. There’s always something about the old design that users love. Removing that one thing could anger users no matter how many new features you put into the new design. You have to test your old design with users to find out what the positives and negatives are before you redesign it. If you don’t test your old design, you’ll run the risk of removing the positives that users love about the interface.

For example, Yahoo decided to remove tabs from their email interface, but that was a key feature that made many users choose Yahoo Mail over Gmail. It’s shocking that Yahoo didn’t do any testing with their current interface to realize this. A company should have more consideration and empathy for their users than to drastically and abruptly redesign their interface without understanding the positive aspects that drive users to their interface. It’s excusable to do a redesign without testing if you’re a website with a few hundred or thousand users, but Yahoo Mail has millions of users. Not testing your old design before a redesign is one of the biggest mistakes companies like Yahoo continue to make.

Since most companies don’t seem to have an idea of what a proper redesign process is, here’s a graphic that should help:


You can’t satisfy everybody when you redesign a site. However, if most of your users are complaining and petitioning to bring the old design back, you definitely haven’t thought enough about how your redesign will affect your users. The old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” should come to mind when you’re thinking about a redesign. Too many companies are blindly redesigning their sites without knowing what’s broken. Redesigns should never happen because the design team feels like their site needs a new look. They should happen because there are specific areas of the interface that have poor usability and need improvement. However, design teams should also know that there are areas of the interface that users love and don’t need changing. It’s the design team’s job to test their interface to find out what those positive and negative areas are. Blindly redesigning your interface without testing can lead to outraged users who won’t think twice to voice their anger or quit using your website forever.


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Author and founder of UX Movement. Founded this site to help you learn user experience design for a more user-friendly world.

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