How to transition seamlessly to a new design from anold one?

8 Jun 2009 - 12:04pm
1064 reads
Sarah Kampman

We recently went through a similar redesign. Through extensive card
sorting and usability testing of new and experienced users, we found
that keeping the old (albeit non-ideal) terminology was often the best
compromise. Experienced users just got too lost if we renamed functions
and topics that they had used for years. The exception to this was
functions that even experienced users had trouble finding/understanding,
which we renamed using card sort results as a guide (then re-tested with
other users).

As we have fairly low turnover, these experienced users make up a very
high percentage of our audience, so keeping some of the status quo was a
better overall decision than a 100% overhaul. We also did substantially
more user testing of the navigation/terminology changes than a typical
design change, which corrected some mistakes early and gave us
confidence in the changes we did make.

-----Original Message-----
It's an employee intranet portal which had been operational for
around a decade. The UI wasn't changed one bit in all this time.
Later the organization decided it was time to move on and did the
best they could with the UI design. For a few weeks the new
(completely overhauled) design lived beside its older cousin and the
users had the choice to peek in while still continuing in the old
mode. One day they launched the new avatar.

Now this overhauled UI has a new information architecture - complex
if one is accustomed working in the order scheme of things. Links
that were easily spotted previously had been moved around and/or
hidden under heaps of fancy labels. When I went looking for one
frequently visited section, it took me a good 10 minutes to find it!!
That's unacceptable and a waste of employee time.

My question is, how does one accomplish the difficult task of
introducing a new design? how does the organization shift seamlessly
from the older version UI to the new one without any surprises for
the user? how can the user begin using a new system starting from
where he left it earlier? Thanks in advance for all your help.

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