Monday, April 23, 2012

The Psychology Behind Redesigns: Are You Just Insecure?

I'm in the process of working on a revised look for our application - probably the 5th or 6th time I've done this in the 6 years the application has been in existence.

As I got to yet another page that needed minor tweaks to fit in with the new look I was giving the application, I begun to wonder why I was even bothering to do this in the first place. No one has been complaining, people still applaud us for the "ease of use" of our application, but here I was burning 40-60 hours to work on this. Hours I could have been using to sell, to track our customers better, blog more, or any number of activities that may "move the needle" on our small business more than an application redesign.

But yet here I was obsessing over the border color around an icon.

My wife works at a design firm and she comes home with tales day after day about companies who are going through elaborate redesigns of their sites and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process, not to mention the hundreds of hours their own employees are spending facilitating their work.

Thinking about this a bit more, there seem to be two prevailing reasons why people do redesigns. The first are simply table stakes. You need to have a decent looking site or app to be credible in the marketplace or people are actually going to discount you. Good design brings a certain amount of credibility.

But how about when you have that already? Why do people get so obsessed about redesigning their site when clearly it's going to contribute little or nothing to the bottom line?

I've come to call this the "Front Lawn" theory. There's a certain satisfaction, a certain security in knowing your front lawn is green and mowed. That the front of your house looks presentable to passer-bys. That your front lawn, as an extension of you and what you represent in the neighborhood, is tidy and well organized. I've visited plenty of homes where the outside is immaculate and the inside is a dump.

Ultimately what I think drives a lot of redesigns is basic insecurity, cost and effort be damned. Business sense is thrown out the window for a purely passion driven, irrational decision. When the moment comes for the executive to send the URL to a buddy, or present their company in some fashion, can they personally be proud about what is being shown? Is their front lawn immaculate?

Couch time, here I come. :)

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