I assume we agree that having good usability from the get-go is a good thing – and that it is advantageous in a competitive environment.

There are also products which didn’t start with great usability but still gained audience because they were the only game in town. I, too, have old technology that I use because it’s convenient and cheap and I’m willing to continue to use it.

Is it worth it – from a business perspective – to re-invest in an existing product in order to improve its usability? There are a host of issues to consider, including:

  • financial cost, resources, scheduling
  • research
  • re-training users, etc., etc.

It might be driven by competitive analysis, internal maintenance issues – or a corporate mandate. Sometimes the ‘solution’ is simply re-branding and a fresh coat of paint. I’ve performed several ‘makeovers’ that were a direct result of acquisition&integration (the product needed to ‘play well with others’ in a new environment).

Many, many of my paid jobs (most of them?) have been predicated on a ‘legacy makeover’ of an existing product – or suite of products. I may be cynical, but few were driven by a deep commitment to ‘user experience’ (whatever that is). Often it was driven by marketing or a corporate mandate. Usability was secondary. But you take improvement when you can get it.

Here are some examples, listed by market area / rationale:


Branding & marketing


Portal integration

Advertising Research

Platform migration

Market Research Tool

Make complex workflow accessible

Investment Management Suite

Repackaging as white label


Content Strategy & re-org for B2B self-service

Consulting & Financial

Infrastructure cleanup & accessibility

Product Development

Usability as competitive advantage

Email Campaign Manager

Functional Design Modeling

Complex Business Case

Platform migration

Financial Trading

Re-Design existing business tool with graphical UI


Many design engagements are to “fix” an existing site

… but the subtext and agenda is often “Make us more like our competitor”.


© The Communication Studio LLC