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Pulling Off a Successful Redesign

by kirupa   |   filed under Product Development FTW!

Redesign projects always start off with great fanfare, but very few such projects successfully cross the finish line. Let's talk about how to increase our chances of success here.

Here is a situation that happens around the world in many teams on a daily basis. Someone comes in with a grand plan for redesigning something:

The redesign could involve the website, could be the blog, could be the brand, it could be the product, or it could be anything else that the customer is ultimately seeing. Fast forward about six months. The end result is...nothing.

Behind the scenes, what did happen was that a lot of pixels were wasted, a lot of money was spent, and a lot of presentations were given. But in the end, there was nothing to show for all that effort. So...I've been a part of successful redesign efforts. I've also been a part of a whole lot of failed and unsuccessful redesign efforts. Through the successes and failures, I've observed three things that will help make a redesign effort go more smoothly, so I'll walk through what those are in this article.


Empowered Decision Maker

To pull of a successful redesign, the first and most important thing you need is someone in-charge of the actual redesign. Seems kinda obvious, right? This is someone who can make the final go/no-go call. I’m going to call this person the empowered decision maker. This has to be a single person. And this person should have the authority to not only give the final thumbs-up, but this person should also be able to quickly resolve to any issues that crop up. A redesign is not going to be a democratic process. This is not a design-by-committee arrangement.

As a related aside, according to the amazingly talented Pascal Pixel, the ideal size of a design team is one:


In many smaller companies, this empowered decision maker is likely the CEO themselves. In larger companies, it is someone with authority over all the various orgs that will be impacted by the redesign.

Design Lead

Second, you need a design lead - the design expert in the room who works closely with the empowered decision maker to keep them in the loop.

This should be a person with good design sense. Someone with good taste:

This person should be able to articulate a strong point of view of where the design should go, and this should be grounded in an understanding of the product or brand being redesigned.

The Implementers

Third, and this is going to make up the largest part of the team, you need the implementers - the talented designers and engineers to conceive, prototype, and actually deliver on the redesign:

This team will work very closely with the design point-person to ensure there is a quick two-way transfer of information. At no point should the implementers be guessing whether they are going in the right direction. At no point should the design lead be unaware of the what the implementers are working on.

Minimize Surprises. Maximize Alignment.

Redesigns fail to take off (or land) because of people problems. Nothing else. What this arrangement with these three groups of individuals ensures is rapid decision making. The time it takes to actually pull off the redesign and go through the stages to figure out what to change, how to change it, and how to deliver it - that will take whatever time that normally takes. The idea isn’t to rush the whole design and development process. The idea is to minimize the communications lag between the decision makers and those who are informing the decision. The idea is to minimize surprises and curveballs that could derail things.


If you have these three steps with these three groups of individuals in the right set up, your design project has a greater chance of succeeding. I'm not going to say it's a 100% slam dunk, but the odds of succeeding are in your favor. With complex endeaveors involving other people, that is the best we can hope for!

Curious to hear your thoughts on your experiences having gone through successful (or unsuccessful) redesign projects, so feel free to share your thoughts on the forums. Lastly, you can interact with this content on Twitter / X, LinkedIn, or TikTok if you want to share it with your networks there...which I would totally appreciate!

Just a final word before we wrap up. If you have a question and/or want to be part of a friendly, collaborative community of over 220k other developers like yourself, post on the forums for a quick response!

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