Having recently being updating the look of RiskAssess, I thought I’d share a few important things to remember.

About 4.5% of people are colour blind. This means a lot of your users! Make sure your site has sufficient contrast in the colour choices. Great tools are available online to help:

Stage the changes as much as possible. Do them incrementally rather than all at once. That way people have time to get used to them, and you have the usual incremental software development benefits like earlier releases with lower risk of bugs.

If you have an established user base, make sure the new design is recognisably connected with the old design, so people don’t feel it’s all changed.

Test on the hardware your users use, and design for it. A design with fancy fonts and subtle colours might look good on a big Retina iMac, but how will it look on old low res LCDs and small netbook/laptop screens?

What are the demographics of your users? If they skew older, then heavier fonts, more contrast etc may be vital for readability.

As always, test on target browsers, screen sizes, mobile, tablet etc to ensure all your users have a good experience.

Ask some of your users for feedback! Yes, really! If you’ve got an established site, you really need to make sure you will be delighting people, not annoying them with a new look. Even if it’s only CSS changes, there’s likely a lot you may not have thought of that your users will spot right away that you’ll want to take on board.

Warn all your users that the change will be happening. Provide screenshots, explain why the new look is better for them, and give everyone the chance to check it out and give feedback and get ready for the change.

Encourage people to give feedback once the new design goes live. Take it on board humbly (even if it hurts), and react quickly to fix any accidental losses of functionality or oversights. Much better if users tell you what they don’t like so you can fix it.