Iterate or Redesign?

On design and change management

Tim Dalton
2 min readMay 19, 2014

Your work is out in the world, but you keep thinking of ways to improve it. Maybe your clients have got ideas to make it better. Or perhaps priorities have shifted and what you thought was important at the start is less so now.

The challenge for you as the designer then becomes about how to make those changes. Do you opt for subtle tweaks with each new update, or an entire redesign behind the scenes and release it all in one go?

It’s a conversation we’ve had a number of times in the team recently, but sitting down on the train and opening up Spotify this morning made me think about it again:

The new Spotify app design

They’ve done the anti-Porsche and very much gone down the redesign route. I think it looks great, and it’s motivated me to play with the app again which is certainly an argument for the redesign approach. But others may find it disconcerting and confusing.

On the iteration side it’s hard to argue against the success of the subtle changes the 911 has seen over the last Y years. Some like the assurance of gradual evolution while others find it tired and uninspiring.

So, which route is best?

To Iterate

  • Minimises retraining/relearning of the tool for your users
  • Made frequently, small changes remind users that your tool is in constant development and improvement
  • Iteration is easier to schedule, easier to predict deadlines and is less overwhelming for programmers/designers
  • Your look/feel is part of what differentiates you; tweaking maintains consistency which offers reassurance to customers

To Redesign

  • If the changes you need to make are significant and iteration cannot achieve them
  • To make a lot of noise and potentially attract new and different users
  • If repeat iterations and product tweaks have led to a confused interface that users are struggling to navigate

The fascinating thing about this topic is it doesn’t just apply to software design. It’s at the heart of change management for any venture that relies on its followers for success.

What do you think? What’s missing from the list? Have you had good/bad experiences of either direction?



Tim Dalton

Product Managementing @redgate. Can also be found parenting / cycling / cricketing / allotmenting.