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How to redesign an app without any data

Mobile App
Dec 15, 2022

(This article was first written and published on July 4, 2019)

When I was working on the OLX redesign in 2017 I had no idea the project would get me so much attention and a quite good amount of leads that turned into real clients.

I started that project with the main idea of I wanted to do but I didn’t have any data to confirm my assumptions and to make improvements with solid research to back them.

To design something solid and to have some value on that redesign I had to first ask myself 3 main questions:

• Why am I redesigning this app?
• What can be improved?
• Am I doing this for fun or just for the sake of doing it?

After I had the answer for those questions I was confident enough to tackle this project and work on this redesign with the same tenacity as if I was working with a real project. I had a few reasons why I choose the OLX app to redesign. I was a really heavy user of the app and some improvements came from simple things that I wanted in the app and some were for pure frustration.

Data? Where?

As I mentioned earlier in this article I didn’t have any data to back my assumptions and I’m pretty sure people at OLX would never share their data with an outsider. The only way to get some data was to go on Google Play and AppStore.

Those really good places to look for reviews, because users never hold back when something it’s not working and also are good starting points in what to improve.

For Portuguese speakers here’s some reviews from Google Play and AppStore.

Check the competitors

Now I have angry and frustrated users' feedback, but it's not enough. I still need to see what the competition is doing, identify the problems, and decide whether I want to adopt some of their solutions.

Who are OLX competitors? The two big ones that I could find were Mercado Livre and Enjoei.

I did a quick analysis on the website of those 2 companies and realized that I could use some of the solutions to my redesign. I’m not talking about simply copy and paste those solutions but to get inspiration from them to identify the problem and use a similar solution to the problems I read on some of those reviews.

Heavy user indeed

Now that I have all my data from places that don’t require any deep research and even if I wanted I could never get access to heat maps or analytics, it was time to trust on my own usage of the app. I wanted to create a better solution and design just because I got tired of getting frustrated with the app and I also had some ideas myself for improvements.

Some of the ideas were:

• Redesign chat experience
• Have the info from the person who is interested in your product
• Search filter with more options and simpler design
• Support screen (On the current app this was missing)

This project took me about 2 months to get it done and I had a lot of fun doing it. I did this in 2017 but I realized that now it’s the time to write an article about the process because I see a whole bunch of beautiful and well-crafted designs on Dribbble but people forget about the research to make improvements on a project.