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I'm trying to convince our manager that we want a fresh look. What we really need to do is to describe the features to a designer and see what they come up with. Instead he shows them pictures of last year's and basically says, "make us a new one of these". IMO, that only predisposes them to rearrange rather than creating something fresh.

Is there a name for the effect I'm trying to avoid: that designers will be predisposed to how it ought to look instead of reinventing it? "Framing Effect" perhaps?

How can I convince my manager to stop doing it that way?

Regarding DA01's comment and more context:

Its a web page where a user is expected to enter quite a bit of information. Think fantasy sports games. There is already a hefty list of UX features we must support, but we also need to convert to more modern web technologies. This calls for a redesign and I would rather see something that looks new and fresh and not just last year's project rejigged for HTML5.

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    I think we need more context here...what exactly is being designed? If you already know what the feature is, then how much design is actually taking place? – DA01 Nov 7 '16 at 23:13
  • @DA01, context added. – Octopus Nov 7 '16 at 23:43
  • Is UI design a part of the UX team? Who is your manager? (Tech lead? Art director? Product owner?) – DA01 Nov 7 '16 at 23:49
  • Sounds like your manager don't know what design process actually is. – HaraldCFS Nov 14 '16 at 6:54
  • maybe this question is a good fit for workplace.stackexchange.com? – Luciano Nov 25 '16 at 11:50
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Give your manager a reason to agree with you. Why do you need something fresh? Are you losing your audience? If your not losing your audience yet, are there reasons why you will soon? Is the site starting to look dated, are you getting negative customer feedback, is there a competitor out there that's snatching your audience, and if there isn't currently, is there space for them to do so?

Most likely your manager is currently thinking that the established design works, and that deviating from it is risking failure. His/her logic is sound to a certain extent, but stagnation can cause serious problems very suddenly and unexpectedly.

One example being Paypal. It was an ugly website styled straight from the corporate heart of the 90s, which a lot of trendier websites were forced to integrate with for technical reasons. Suddenly Stripe comes along, which does exactly the same thing, but looks good while it does it, and everyone's using Stripe instead of Paypal. Cue PayPal not only having to redesign to look sexy (which it should have done before it lost all its customers), but also spending millions of dollars on ad campaigns focused at getting their lost customers back. That's a lot of lost cash due to stagnant management. You can see similar examples with Hotmail and Gmail and Internet Explorer and Firefox/Chrome, although those two examples are more functional than aesthetic.

So the question is, is there a danger of that happening with your product? Is it starting to look dull? Is there a possibility of a better designed product snatching your business? If so, that's what you need to be chatting to your manager about. You saying it needs to look "fresher" doesn't mean much in terms of results for your manager, to him or her it sounds like risk and work. Show them there's a risk in stagnation too. And a reward for innovation.

This is still something of a stab in the dark, because I don't know who you work for or what their competition landscape is, but hopefully it helps. You can always de-risk it for your manager by asking for budget to take your favourite designer to the side for an experimental design, and then offer that to users as a "beta" site they can test. If you can produce the new product cheaper than the established one that will be an incentive for management change.

  • while I agree with you for the most part, Stripe's real value and the reason they were able to steal so much market share is they valued the developer experience. Yes, they are one of the best (if not the best) designed sites on the internet which makes their UI/UX very intuitive, they built an excellent API, and documented it well. From my experience with Paypal, their API was garbage. Developers like the path of least resistant, and Stripe gave it to us. – Andrew Brown Feb 28 at 22:28
  • @AndrewBrown, yes that's true too. Being a developer I did know that was also an advantage they held over Paypal, but for the sake of my argument kept it simple. Stripe is much more versatile than Paypal was at the time in pretty much every way. But Stripe also offered the ready-made check out, which had a lot of people defect from PayPal to Stripe for what you could call aesthetic reasons alone. – Wilf Mar 1 at 11:58
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This is tough, especially tough when convincing someone who's business minded (polite way of saying greedy).

You have to frame it from a business point of view. Saying things like "we need something fresh" or "we need to update to moderen web technologies" don't convey the business motive. As designers and web developers we take a lot of information for granted that needs to be broken down.

Updating to mordern web technologies or the term 'redesign' often puts product managers on edge. Which is rightly so. I've seen many projects where developers have come and gone, implementing the latest javascript framework, complicating the development process and lowering seo of the page. And its often an ambitious designer whos fresh on the web sceen most keen to put their mark on something without considering UX. Not saying you fall under these categories, just that PMs haven't always had a pleasurable experience.

You need to collect supporting data first to make your case. Look at google analytics, what is the average time on page, and average time to conversion? How/Why will your approach improve conversions. Whats the page load time, and whats the bounce rate? How are the new web technologies improving that? Does your company pay for ad words? Having a high performing page with low bounce rate will improve your page score, giving you cheaper ads resulting in more leads and conversions. You shouldn't need to go into too much detail, just cover high level why your approach will provide results. And where ever possible put dollar values on the report, not percentages. This should put $$ signs in the eyes of your manager, and if he/she is still not convinced... then slap them.

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Physical examples of what you're looking for are always more useful to designers than words. How does a designer know what "fresh" means to you? If you have the time and resources I would suggest giving the designer a two part prompt. First show them what you have and ask them to research other pages that perform the same function. Have them chose ones that they think do the job better and have the aesthetics and user experience you are looking for. Discuss them as a group and start to define what's good, or bad, or "fresh". Even if they're not perfect it gives you the opportunity to have a more concrete conversation about what you want. Now the designer can start to build your vision. This is a very general process that can apply in many situations and in the end it will save time and get you a better result. Good Luck!

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