Iterative Design Process: Designer Friend or Foe?

Discourage clients from redesigning their site? Yes, absolutely, under the right circumstances… Which are? Well iterative or incremental design makes perfect sense when the mission or aims of the site have not changed drastically, the structure still works, and users are comfortable with your site the way it is. Rather than risk upsetting or losing customers by forcing dramatic changes on them all at once, this approach tries to allow sites to evolve over time by adding new features and content incrementally. Some major companies like Amazon, Ebay, and Netflicks subscribe to this approach and utilize it successfully, rolling out any major changes slowly. Small changes prevent these companies from disorienting or losing their customers. Making changes in small increments or phases can also produce cost savings because they are less expensive then a full redesign. Companies using this approach can also be more agile in making changes quickly. Changes that prove unsuccessfully adopted by customers can also be rolled back with minimal effort.

As a designer, don’t I dislike a methodology that discourages expensive and fresh redesigns? No. The design time is still there; it is just dispersed over time. If a design still works, then why switch to something else without specific reasons for doing so? Sometimes clients approach me about a redesign simply because they are tired or bored with their sites. Often this can be remedied by replacing content and refreshing images. Just because you are tired of seeing the same site design day after day doesn’t necessarily mean your customers are too. In fact, they may have learned exactly where to go for what they want or gone as far as bookmarking specific sections or memorizing specific click routes. Some users are so familiar with websites that they move their mouse to a specific place on the page where they know a button or link will be appearing on loading so they can click as soon as possible without waiting for the entire page to load.

Some other sites discussing incremental design:

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