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Risks and Approaches of Legacy Application UI/UX Modernization

Redesigning a legacy app is like an archeological dig, forcing you to push the limits of creativity within very specific boundaries.”

Jamie Myrold, VP of Design at Adobe

Is your user experience rate suffering, and do you keep receiving negative feedback? A lot has changed in recent years by virtue of technological progress: in marketing, human resources, and, of course, in UI/UX design. 

Even if your product has real value and can make everyone’s life better, you need to focus on customer experience. Regardless of the service provided or whether you produce for the B2B or B2C market, the user interface remains crucial for both ERP and CRM systems. That’s when you should reconsider your current application and think about modernizing your user interface. 

What is a legacy application, and what does it have to do with user experience? What are the benefits and challenges behind UI/IX modernization? Read on as we answer these questions.

What Is a Legacy Application and What Qualifies for a Legacy App UI/UX Modernization?

Legacy application refers to outdated software that no longer has updates and technical support. You can keep running it, but sooner or later, you will lose to the competition. Continuous innovation and legacy app UI/UX modernization are the ways to win, and without perfecting your design and getting constant feedback, your company will hit the brick wall. 

If you think that your application is not old enough to be redesigned, you might want to reconsider — it is not only about its age. Applications in need of redesigning legacy systems are generally cumbersome and difficult to adapt. Their architecture and technology are inflexible, making them hard to maneuver and change under current trends and requirements. When you have a legacy web application, every move you make requires a ton of valuable resources, including time and money.

Problems in legacy enterprise application UI/UX | ModLogix

Guaranteed user base

Since a majority of legacy apps are built for enterprises, they miss the value of customer experience on day one. Many of them do not take into account the diversity of employees, their responsibilities in the organization, and the required data. When an application is created to suit everyone’s interest in one package, in the end, it doesn’t fit anyone’s. Without a decent level of customization, there will always be users who remain unsatisfied.

Cumbersome UI

Being built for a multitude of users who have no choice but to use it, legacy web apps mostly lack a customer-oriented user interface. Unlike software developers who continuously monitor user retention, traffic, and customer experience, legacy software producers tend to overlook the importance of these metrics and end up with an unsustainable application. Moreover, many legacy apps require special training before working with it due to its unnecessary complexity and inflexibility.

Lack of choices

Management executives have a truly tough choice: they either buy something off the shelf or build an app from scratch. The former is significantly cheaper and faster; however, it can probably miss some vital features to fit each employee’s needs. The latter has its own disadvantages because building and designing an application is a long-run and complex process that requires a clear understanding of each and every operation in the organization. Finally, creating a custom application will cost you a small fortune and require many iterations and revisions.

Possible miscommunication

Who will make the final decision about software? Certainly, corporate management that deals with only a few metrics, functions, and procedures. Mostly unwillingly, they will overlook a large number of future users who will not have a say in the decision-making process. This inevitably leads to a gap between what the executives think is suitable for the company and what is actually important to workers.

Why You Should Consider Legacy Application UI/UX Modernization

Having paid a substantial amount of money for a web application, many corporate decision-makers will wonder why they need to invest even more money in modernizing legacy UI/UX. Why should they fix software that works fine? Will the investment even pay off?

Let’s look at some numbers that will finally convince you that legacy UI/UX modernization is the key:

  • According to statistics from Forbes, $1 investment in the UI/UX design generated from $10 to $100 gain, which means that modern UI design recruits new and more qualified employees;
  • 44% of CIOs say that legacy software significantly holds back the company’s growth;
  • 14% of organizations that invested in UI modernization have increased their annual revenue.

What makes this step so vital, and why should you strongly consider channeling your money into UI/UX redesign?

Increase in productivity

Having worked with your legacy app for a while, you can conduct thorough user research to have an in-depth understanding of the work your employees perform. Considering human factors, fossilized mistakes, and user feedback, you can restructure the interface in the way your employees need it. Thus, you can apply time-tested behavior patterns, human memory, and perception principles to shorten the user path to complete an action.

Therefore, your employees will complete their tasks easier and quicker and generate more profit for your company. Finally, due to diminished complexity and more intuitive navigation, employees will perform with fewer errors, leading to human error cost reduction.

Enhanced security compliance

In the modern world of sharing sensitive information online, many users are concerned about their data security. Both stakeholders and employees are interested in raising security and protecting their data from cyberattacks, as the latter can lead to expensive lawsuits as well as a poor reputation. 

In the modern world of sharing sensitive information online, many users are concerned about their data security. Both stakeholders and employees are interested in raising security and protecting their data from cyberattacks, as the latter can lead to expensive lawsuits as well as a poor reputation. 

Furthermore, cross-functional development teams provide an opportunity for a harmonious tandem of security and UX. Design and security shouldn’t be neglected or left as an afterthought.

What does one have to do with another? One of the common security issues are injections, whereby an attacker uses a regular form on the web page to run their code and gain access to sealed data. By modernizing your software and design, developers can limit the input settings and avoid potential misuse.

Finally, the absence of vendor support paired up with the lack of skilled professionals poses a threat to your company’s security

UX best practices for improved customer experience

UX design is one of the biggest trends in software design. Its importance cannot be underestimated since there’s such a fine line between success and failure. We’ve all seen and used so many applications that we have clear expectations before getting into a new one. Intuitively, your customers know where to find the menu, the logo, and the search bar. Creativity is a part of any design; however, over the past years, many unspoken rules have been developed that you should not neglect. 

When you modernize legacy UI/UX, you decrease the learning curve for new employees and create additional value for them. Boosting both employee retention and effectiveness, you increase revenue and the overall success of your corporation.

How do you ensure all of the above? By uniting UX professionals, software developers, and end-users feedback. For example, based on the received feedback, the user interface might need to be altered to comply with security policies and provide more safety, so including UX designers in security reviews is very important. 

Better reputation

Reputation is a combination of values that your brand represents and its perception by customers. When you build a strong reputation, you cannot limit yourself to only one value but try to achieve the best results in every aspect. Next to the quality of the product, employee benefits, and office location, enterprise application plays an important role in your company’s overall image. In order to increase brand value, you have to be able to empathize with your employees and provide better solutions. 

Main Risks and Challenges of UI/UX Modernization

Phased improvements

Legacy application GUI modernization is a long process that requires structuring and planning. On the other hand, it has to be carried out without interrupting any existing functions. This is why it is vital to focus on listing the needs of end-users and what should be upgraded in accordance with their requirements. 

Planned pivots

During the process of redesigning, you will create phased launches that will generate valuable feedback. Thanks to beta testing, you will receive feedback from your users and pivot your initial features to meet their needs. Although it is a very productive approach that allows you to satisfy everyone’s requirements, it takes a lot of time and effort. 

Creating value for employees

The initial goal is to promote user experience and make your organization more attractive to them. Therefore, if new software is too complex or does not cover everyone’s needs, it will not be successful.

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The Go-To Legacy UI/UX Modernization Approaches

Making something from scratch is always easier than fixing something that is failing. Web app facelift is a challenging task for UI/UX designers and requires juggling different approaches at once. There is no one single magical tool that will fix your legacy software, so it is important to find the right balance.


A redesign is a tricky approach that often requires help from third-party providers and business consultants. With this approach, you will start from scratch: user and market research, setting goals and expectations, and defining the main problem. 

Redesigning legacy system: step-by-step process | ModLogix

When redesigning UI/UX design, bear in mind the following key principles:

Define reasons

Do not forget that you are generating value for the organization. Before you start the process, identify the reasons for the modernization. Communicate with the end-users through emails and surveys and collect the list of features that should be added to improve customer experience. 

Focus on efficiency

Recreating the user interface the way users want to have it will boost the efficiency of your company. User satisfaction can be measured by task success and various KPIs; for example, how long it takes to complete a particular task, its result, and the number of errors that occurred during the process.

Make sure the new user path leads them to a successful and fast-achieved result.

Ensure collaboration

In order to build a system with a shared understanding among stakeholders, developers, designers, and users, you need to collaborate. Only by working together and considering user feedback will you create an application that covers everyone’s needs and meets everyone’s requirements.

By continuously checking with each other, your company will develop a platform that makes every member feel included and valued, which also eases the learning curve and makes your app simple to use. All in all, it’s clarity and simplicity you have to prioritize while redesigning a legacy app.

Concentrate on usability

Making your system easy to use allows you to shorten the learning curve and save money on various training. Moreover, you help new, and existing employees avoid frustration when working with the program and enjoy the smooth process, which improves their productivity and efficiency.

Continuous improvement

Instead of throwing away the old application, the company will work to improve the existing GUI and technology and add features.

This method, used alone, is quite ineffective due to gaps in feedback, which might send the company down the wrong path. Moreover, integrating new features in the existing system that continues to function is not an easy task. Besides, by continuously adding new features, you might overlook the moment of making the system way too complex and cumbersome, especially without a streamlined documentation process.

Our Experience

ModLogix is a company that offers services in the legacy application UI/UX modernization and creating solutions with innovative features. We have helped a number of organizations to redesign their UI/UX and increase productivity.

Case study

We successfully helped our client, a provider of IT and financial services in the health industry, get a new design for their enterprise with a million users worldwide.

The goal was to build a new user interface with a clear enterprise-wide view into the business and streamlined operations. The client decided they needed to enhance their productivity by eliminating unnecessary steps due to the ever-growing complexity of operations. Additionally, they wanted a catchy design to promote engagement.

The UX stage

We collected feedback from users to define their main pain points and build a wireframe with the required features to let the team assess its performance early.

The UI stage

We showed the product in better detail with fidelity mockups. We focused on better communication and consistency, which led to meeting customer needs as well as accelerating the design process.

Our main principles

  • Visual hierarchy for better navigation;
  • Consistency in design to shorten the learning curve;
  • Confirmation and acknowledgment to avoid miscommunication;
  • Continuous communication between developers, designers, and end-users.

The tools we use

  • Sketch;
  • Adobe Illustrator;
  • InVision Studio;
  • Zeroheight.

Even though it’s an ongoing project, the company is testing the application, and we’ve already received the first feedback — the operational efficiency has increased by 150%.

Based on the collected data during the testing period, our designers work together with the development team to make alterations and further improvements in real-time. It’s an important aspect of the redesign process — the company communicates the user feedback, the designers transform it into new features, and the development team immediately adds them to the software.

Final Thoughts

If this article spoke to you and you’ve recognized your company’s problems in it, you should strongly consider modernizing your legacy software UI/UX. In case you need help on how and when to start or have other questions, contact experts. We will accompany you at every step and answer all of your questions.

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