Nov 20, 2019

So, you have a product or service you currently provide for an audience, GREAT! Now you’re interested in refreshing your product and your reasons are actually arbitrary goals such as: 

     - We want it to look 'nicer' / it just looks bad

     - Our investors suggested we update our products

     - We haven't updated it for years 

     - Our competitor has a new product, so we need something new too

While it is common to stumble across these as 'perceived reasons' to refresh your product, they are not specific and don’t help you or anyone who supports you to actually move forward. You need a much clearer justification which you can use at the end to measure the results. 

Some common mistakes people make when refreshing their existing products (which I hope you now avoid) are:


This follows on from the point above. Refreshing an existing product can feel exciting, but going full speed ahead into visual execution without having a strategy or goal of what problem it will now solve or what it should now achieve, leads to a lot of wasted time, confusion and energy. It’s ok to realise that there is room for improvement, but don’t simply fall into the trap as others in not having a specific reason why it needs to be refreshed. Maximise the opportunity and consider all the ways you can add more value to your end-user, add innovation, gain better business ROI. For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness by 25% then how will that influence the refresh of your product? If it is to help restructure/condense your product portfolio, then how will that influence this product refresh and its positioning in comparison to the others in your portfolio for your customers?


Again, it’s true the process of refreshing a product is creative and exciting, but you still need to have metrics, insights, and numbers to drive the design direction and help you identify what is and what is not working. Skipping this and focusing only on aesthetics, new features/trends, etc could lead you to miss out on key data which actually highlights a strength in what your existing product offers. Don’t be the person that passes over existing strengths that you already have.


When you first created the product, you had a different reason for it to exist and possibly wanted it to fulfill a different need. That reason worked back then, but don’t assume by holding on to all these older needs and beliefs will help you achieve better results this time. Things always change with time. Now, you may want to focus more on integrating a new digital/physical element to your product, you may have developed a new visual brand direction the product needs to adhere too. Or, perhaps your strategy for getting it to market might be different involving different requirements for your product, you may decide to sell from your own store online, instead of shipping in bulk to retailers. Situations always change, so your mindset will need to too.


In contrast to the previous point above, some companies make the mistake of refreshing a physical or digital product and in doing so, move it completely away from an accepted ‘design’ system/experience that works well. This then disrupts or confuses the expectations of the end-user who by now has developed an expected ‘user behaviour’ / user interaction with your product. This could be a small disruption in consistency, such as having a key signature interaction across all other touchpoints, but not integrating it into the product being refreshed. Or while refreshing the hardware, remove a key button/voice feature that is expected to be used to navigate the digital element. With the increasing number of screens and devices being created, it is key to think holistically about the user experience and service that spans across all touchpoints.


This depends on the scope of the refresh and number of people involved, but in wider projects with multiple touchpoints – it can be difficult to keep everyone aligned on what is happening and how everything is fitting together holistically. Especially if working on different areas in parallel. Sometimes the software side comes up with an unexpected new way to improve the experience that impacts the hardware (or vice versa). Or the brand side may come across a visual signifier that impacts the hardware/software development. Keeping this 'open continual alignment' can be difficult especially if work is done in silos, or as the pressure builds towards deadlines. 


Obviously, the first step beings with you doing something about it. You can’t moan about being hungry if you don’t take any action to feed yourself. lol. Keep saying ‘tomorrow’, and for most, that day will never come. So, find an independent or call a company that can help you get a real outcome – Do something. Make a start!

So, why am I telling you this? SIMPLE – So you can have a stronger result with a bit of insight to help. Especially if you are trying to refresh a product to create a better user experience or product offering. I know there is so much information out there, and it's hard to make sense of it all. So, I want to provide you with some insight as a nudge in the right direction. This post alone won't turn things around, but it's a start.

    If this sounds like you, get in touch. the meantime, always happy to hear your additional thoughts on this too.