How Companies Can Prevent User Backlash After a Redesign

When a company wants to improve their user experience they redesign their user interface. But sometimes those good intentions end up backfiring. Users can get upset with the new changes and backlashes often happen because companies don’t test their user 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, but if most of your users are complaining and petitioning to bring the old design back, you 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.

Design teams should know that there features 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 features are. Blindly redesigning your user interface without testing can lead to outraged users who won’t think twice to voice their anger on your haphazard redesign.

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