Dan Counsell

Iterate and Release Often

Wednesday, 10th August 2016

You’ve spent the last six months or more working on a major overhaul of your product. You’ve refreshed the interface. Improved the design. You’ve even added a bunch of new features and removed some old features people don't need anymore. You release it expecting universal praise. Instead, you're met with a barrage of negative comments and a bunch of bad reviews from your once happy users.

It turns out most users don’t like it when a product gets drastically overhauled behind their backs. They go to use the product to do the thing they always do, and because everything is new and different, they have to stop and think. It adds an extra cognitive load that shouldn't be there. They are forced to relearn parts of the product they felt they already knew.

Unhappy Customers

When you look at this from a customers perspective, it’s no wonder they get annoyed and confused when things get changed without apparent good reason or warning.

Some users love change, but they are often much less vocal than the ones you’ve upset. Negative feedback can throw you off as you scramble to course correct and make your customers happy again.

When trying to improve the design and experience of a product, you should keep in mind your existing user base. Think about what they want. Most of the time, it's not a fancy redesign. We're all guilty of doing redesigns because we believe that's what users want. But honestly, smaller incremental changes will win the hearts of your users.

If you’re about to embark on a significant update to your product, here are some things to keep in mind:

To keep all of your users happy you should refine, adjust, and improve things over time. Never remove features unless you honestly believe it's the right thing to do.

Consistent updates give customers a sense that the product is cared for, alive, and still being worked on. If you go off the grid for twelve months developing the next big thing users will assume development has stopped.

Regular, incremental updates are a win for everyone. Tweak and improve gradually. Your users will love you for it.

Oh, and there is one more thing…

Do you want to take a more intimate look at the highs and lows of running an independent business?

My Monthly Newsletter reveals some of the easy wins and the toughest mistakes I've made along the way. It's sent out on the last Wednesday of every month and contains information and advice you won't find anywhere else.