How to Successfully Balance Innovation with Usability

Product updates can be extremely frustrating for users and for product managers alike.

No one likes to be interrupted, especially when they can’t immediately see the benefits of the update or upgrade.

And users aren’t just being interrupted with your product upgrade, but with many.

So how do you ensure that users understand the relevant of your updates?

How will your users benefit from each update so that they can ignore the frequent interruptions?

Here are three tips to help you manage prodect updates, without compromising usability.

1. Allow Users to Evaluate Features and Implement Relevant Changes

If your users are grumbling about your product’s frequent updates and aren’t being engaged, you have a problem.

Listen to your users. Ask for their feedback and do it often.

Allow them to easily evaluate your product so that you aren’t updating the wrong features. Avoid confusing your users with updates they can’t give feedback on.

Gartner recommends: ” Determine your company’s top priorities to improve upon related to product strategy and execution. The key to improving product life cycle performance is to focus on one or two primary improvement goals at a time.”

Huge product overhauls are often so confusing for users that they simply stop using it altogether. Better yet, bring your users into the design process and ask their feedback while you’re¬†working on changes.

2. While Design Processes are More Complex, User Experiences Must Remain Simple and Intuitive

With design becoming more and more complex, simplicity of user experience is becoming more and more important. Users want simple products with clear guidelines and a way to get assistance when needed.

Huge design overhauls without significant user benefit are not beneficial to users. They’re not going to welcome interruptions and or the new designs as these have the most significant impact on usability.

Gartner notes that, ” Manufacturers continue to struggle with reducing the time it takes to define, design and deliver innovative new products. IT organizations can contribute to improved product innovation performance by enabling capabilities that close the gap between R&D activities and improve system-centric product design.”

If a user has to reintroduce themselves to a whole new user experience, it’s going to be a challenge that they may just give up on. Design overhauls can happen, but should be rare and alongside significant improvements to usability.

Never should you update a product simply for radical design elements.

This is not worth it for the user.

3. Clearly Communicate the Benefits of Product Updates so That Users are Inclined to Adopt the Changes

Most of the time users will forgive an interruption if they can immediately see the benefits to usability. If they can access new features more simply and with greater ease, they’re more likely to continue to engage with your product.

Make each function work better and more efficiently. Don’t introduce too many new features if they’re not immediately understandable and break a users standard knowledge of a product.

Remember, if you want the user to forgive you for interfering in their routines, you’re going to need to be sure that your product is worth that interruption.

Updates are about striking a balance.

You need to ensure that you’re delivering an updated product in a fast-paced market where competition is high. All the while you must ensure that your product is usable and simple. So in order to manage effective project updates, remember to keep it simple, let your users experience the benefits immediately and listen to their feedback before and after an update. You’ll soon manage your product updates without significant interruption to their experience or routine.


Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.