Broadway, hot chicken, Predators, and top universities are just a few of the things that have made Nashville one of the fastest growing cities in the country. On a daily basis, over 100 people start calling Nashville their new home. But, just like any growth spurt, Nashville is struggling to find ways to cope with the expedited change.
When my wife and I moved here three years ago, the odds were not in our favor: we were jobless, disoriented, and in a crunch. Researching neighborhoods and gracefully transitioning into our new home was not a luxury that we could afford (literally and figuratively), and we were forced to suck up our pride and move in with a roommate for our first 8 months.
We landed in South Nashville in a neighborhood called Woodbine, which is rich in culture and history but, with Nashville’s growing pains, is also rich in traffic. So much so that a tuba player entertains frustrated drivers on a main road every afternoon (how’s that for Music City?).
For almost two years, we lived in South Nashville before pulling the trigger on purchasing a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood on the opposite side of the city, which was closer to work, friends, and parks.
Alright, so how does this relate to a redesign?
In our situation, we moved from a neighborhood in a city we love (Nashville) to a neighborhood we labeled “better” (closer to places, people, and things we love). But, despite being familiar with the general lay of the land, culture, and people of Nashville, we didn’t understand the granularities of our new neighborhood.
At first, we heavily relied on Waze, Yelp, and Instagram to navigate and find new places, but, over time, we adjusted to the new neighborhood and our quality of life dramatically increased despite the initial learning curve.
A redesign of an application holds the same general principles true: users are familiar with a certain way of doing things and getting places. Even if the product’s UI or UX is flawed, a familiar, outdated experience can trump an “improved” experience if it’s not approached correctly on the front-end.
But, if executed correctly, a redesign can help build user loyalty, increase revenues, and develop a sense of internal pride for the product. Here are a few ways that I’ve found to help ensure a seamless redesign:
1. Get Started Yesterday
Our company has estimated the redesign to be complete mid-2018, but, despite the launch being a year out, the process of transitioning users has already started in the form of interviews and usability tests. By kicking off the process early, we’re able to do what I wish I did prior to moving to Nashville back in 2014: research and plan.
By putting a heavy focus on the front-end of the redesign process, we’re able to rapidly build, test, and evolve ideas so that come 2018, the transition is familiar and seamless for our users.
2. Don’t Silo Yourself
Unlike moving houses where we’re able to heavily rely on external professionals (contractors, realtors, moving companies, and navigation apps), it can feel like all facets of a redesign are on the shoulders of the design team.
But, whether you’re a part of a small startup or a larger enterprise, there are other teams in the organization that can be leveraged to help adequately plan and execute the migration from old to new. For example, our design team is currently working closely with customer success managers to setup interviews, conduct usability tests, and drip release new features to existing customers to receive feedback and build anticipation for the new product.
Remember: you’re not alone in this, and you shouldn’t silo yourself throughout the process of a redesign.
3. The Transition Never Ends
Even after living in our new neighborhood for a year, I still am discovering hidden gems and more effective ways to get from A to B.
In the same way, remember that a user’s transition doesn’t end weeks or months into using the redesigned product. Empower users and set them up for success by researching, testing, and implementing processes and technology that support their experience. Products like Mixpanel, Intercom, and Zendesk help us empower users, automate support, and understand user behavior.
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