New designer already working on existing app

Hi everyone,

I just started my new job about a month ago and part of my responsibilities are to continue working on building out the features for our native app.

I’m having a bit of a hard time going back and forth with the previous designer on a new feature and how to approach it. He wants to stay consistent with the rest of the app which a ton of sense and I love consistency! I was wondering if we could test another visual treatment to approach the problem. He was a little hesitant since my suggestion will pretty much be something totally new.

He has spent a lot of time working on the look and feel of the mobile app and is transitioning to another team since I’m here now.

I feel like I’m a bit stuck in a box with what I’m able to experiment with since the look/feel of the app has pretty much been established and worried that if I add or try anything new, it might affect the app negatively. The reviews around usability of the app is generally really good.

  • What’s the best process for when you would like to introduce or experiment a new visual approach that’s not in the mobile app currently? When is it the right time to revisit the design?

  • Should I bother trying to redesign anything at this point in the mobile app if there aren’t issues in usability? Why fix something that’s not broke…

  • Should I just deal with it and stay consistent with the current visual look/feel and focus solely on the IA and UX?

Thanks in advance!!

1 Like

Hi there! Welcome to the UX Mastery Community :slight_smile:

Thank you for sharing your question here. One of my first UX roles (and I stumbled upon UX by a happy accident) was to work on an existing app. I can completely understand what you are feeling right now - it can be restrictive and frustrating to work on something that already exists.

If you’re used to always creating things from scratch, it can feel like you are being stifled. Here are my two cents of advice:

Don’t introduce new design elements/redesign for the sake of it. It’s like you said - if it isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it. If the design works well for your users, then stick with it. However, chances are, that there is always room for improvement. Find out how you can improve and implement those.

The right time to revisit the design – hmm this one’s tricky. If it’s purely cosmetic, and your application looks dated or doesn’t match with the brand, then I suppose anytime works well. If you intend to change the underlying structure, then you will need to tread carefully. I remember when I tried to incorporate something new into the application, we ended up breaking a lot of related flows. If you are the lone designer, this should be something you should watch out for. The same is true for a full redesign too.

As I’ve been reading up about agile of late, I’ve learned a couple of very useful lessons:

  1. As designers, we need to let go of our controlling nature and separate the self from the product/design (I know, very philosophical there). Is it possible that part of your frustration stems from not being able to claim the design as your own? Think about large teams that work on decades-old products - very few would overhaul the entire product (and yikes! Imagine if all our products change drastically every time there’s a change of guard).
  2. Don’t think about change as a “big-bang” event. Think about it in terms of incremental improvement - tiny tweaks implemented over time, that won’t throw you or your users off the tracks.

One way to think about the “right” time to introduce change, is to watch out for openings. If the design is good (and it appears your application is well designed) then most of the time you will be able to introduce new features and functionality within the existing framework. If, however, what you want to introduce is simply not possible in the existing framework then this is a good time to explore a redesign.

For the process, unfortunately, I don’t have the answers immediately. But there certainly are methods to introduce tiny tweaks continuously. I should be able to give you an answer to this sometime in the near future :slight_smile:

In the meanwhile, I hope my answer was useful. And best wishes!