How to Use UX Research to Revive an Old App

how to use UX research to revive an old app

Old is gold, maybe, but not in the app world. In the world of mobile where technology changes by the speed of light and something newer, faster and better is being created all the time, apps simply cannot afford to look, feel or actually be old. Not only do old apps see less engagement from users, but also, they are slowly being wiped out of the app stores. Here’s a statement Apple issued in September 2016, about cleaning up the app store and removing old, non-functioning apps:

“We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated”.

Has your app begun to fall into the ‘old’ category? Does it ‘not function as intended’? It doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s talk about how you can whip that old thing back into action, and give it an all new UX, so users can rediscover it and see the true value you have to offer. You need to take a fresh perspective of what today’s users want, and realign your app to offer that perfect user experience. And to even begin that process, you first need UX research.

So how can UX research revive an old app?

The very basic concept of a successful app, is that the app must add value to the user’s life, by doing what the user expects it to do, easier an better than other available ways to do the same thing. Does your app let users pay all their utility bills in one place, without leaving the couch?


But does it help them do so quickly and easily, while looking great and working smoothly. Most importantly, is it modern enough for the tech-savvy users of today?

The thing about UX is, when you’ve developed it from the ground up, and spent weeks on it, everything looks easy to you. You know where the controls are, and you think the users would know too. But hey, you’ve spent weeks! The user wants to spend a few minutes and no more. It’s all new and completely uncharted territory for them. Don’t expect them to know what you know. And don’t expect them to want to learn.

If your app is a little old, and the engagement has decreased, it could be because it is no longer appealing in the face of other, more recent apps. You need to take a close look at your app’s UX and compare it with other competing apps that are more recent.

You need to find out what the user experience is missing. Maybe the users aren’t very excited about the look and feel of the app. Are the colors dull and the layout outdated? Or it could be that users have moved on to immersive 3D experience while your app still offers flat design. Is the navigation complicated? Still using slider menus? You need to get with the latest and UX research can help you.

So here are 4 ways UX research can help you revive your old app and make it new and appealing to users once again:

1. Realign Your Business Goals

One of the first things you should do when embarking on your UX research is to see what your basic business goal is. When you started out, what was your business model? Were you to make money from paid app downloads? Or was it to get a subscription? Could it be possible that somewhere along the way, the app got more entangled in in-app advertising and the user experience lost its charm?

Go back and re-assert your business goals, and redesign your UX to fulfill that goal.

It’s also possible that you now have new goals. What is the biggest problem you have been dealing with? Is it acquiring new users, or retaining the old ones? Maybe you want to reduce churn, maybe you want to increase free to paid conversions. Isolate the problem you want to address and start working on that first.

2. Who Are Your Target Audience?

Apps are meant to offer a personalized experience, and to provide that, you need to know your audience. So who are your target audience? Millennials, people in the age group of 30-50, students, new parents, it could be more than one. But you must think about who you wish to market your app to, and design your app to be useful, convenient and attractive for them.

3. Take a Fresh Look and Scrap What Doesn’t Work

Over time, an app received updates, new features and a number of add-on functionalities. Over time, we don’t even realize that we’ve cluttered up the app. If your user experience is beginning to feel sluggish, unfocused and tiring, it could be the clutter. It’s time for a cleanup.

Take a good look at all the various steps a user goes through to complete one cycle, and eliminate everything that is unnecessary and distracting.

You could survey your existing audience and ask them what they would like the app to do, for a better experience. You could also take up a whole new round of user research where you observe some users as they use your app, and uncover patterns and problems that prevent the users from gliding through the app.

4. Re-Assess Your Core Value

What was the one special power your app offered the users when you started out. An app must empower a user, and the definition of power change over time. Some years ago, buying music on iTunes was all the rage.

Today, even Apple is recognizing that buying music is obsolete. Streaming apps are the now and streaming makes up 90% of the music industry’s revenue in some countries like Korea.

The point is, value changes over time. What your users wanted some years, even months ago, may not be relevant anymore and you must adapt. UX research can once again help you understand how happy users are with your app and what they’d like instead.


UX research is quite obviously the first thing that will help you understand what your app needs to do, to become relevant and appealing to your app once again. So even though you already did it once and your app has already had a successful launch and even many months or years of success, a fresh round of UX research will help you revive your old app and make it a fresh hit all over again.

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Hiral Atha is the Founder and CEO of MoveoApps. She started coding even before she entered high school and today, she helps clients develop impactful mobile apps for their business. With over a decade of experience in mobile, she leads a team of young and experienced developers. When not leading an ambitious app development project, you’ll find her playing board games with her 6 years old son and piquing his curiosity in computer programming.

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