Legacy systems are entire systems or system features that users have used for a long period of time to fulfill their needs with respect to a task or goal. The more frequently that customers use a system feature, the more likely it is that the system’s brand will become defined by that feature. For example, customers may find that your system “does it right” when it comes to a certain feature. Whether you know it or not, your customers may be using your system for a single feature that meets their needs better than the competition.
When re-designing a system, such as a website or application, it is a good idea to formally inquire about users’ opinions, attitudes, and behaviors in order to identify users’ favorite and most useful features. If these legacy features are not accounted for in the new system’s design, your users may feel alienated by your company, which can greatly diminish customer loyalty. Before you re-design a system, it is wise to first identify your reasons for the re-design. For example, if you have collected customer feedback through emails, surveys, or user research, you may have found many reasons to re-design your website. If you’re just updating your website because you think it’s “out-dated”, you may be doing it for the wrong reasons.
Learning about the features that define a system’s brand, from the perspective of current users, can ensure that the system re-design will continue to support current customers’ needs, while also attracting new business.
In addition to learning about your own brand and system features that consumers are enjoying, it is also important to consider the system features that your competitors are offering. Often, several competitors may update their system designs around the same time, as they adapt to ever-changing consumer demands. Each company’s brand may focus on different “signature” features, while offering a similar feature set. For example, Kodak digital cameras are known for ease-of-use, and the Kodak brand implies a certain level of quality. Sony, who is usually associated with innovation in music players and electronic devices, is more likely to become known for its unique features and compact camera design, than the picture quality the cameras deliver.
A competitive analysis benchmarks your current system’s features as they compare to the current state-of-the-art of the industry for which you are designing and the systems that your competitors are offering.