Sometimes, a restructuring is necessary. Throw out all the old, and bring in the new.
When To Redesign
There is no finite formulae that when used to crunch numbers while wearing white lab coats can tell you exactly when you need to redesign.
On one side there’s the hot-air department who says: “Redesign every sixth month! Next time we need taxonomic navigation!”. On the other side there are the designs that just work and have done so for a long time.
Yet, when combining the idea of a refresh with the experiences of a tried and proven design, we might end up with a third option. No, not a re-align, a redesign based on purpose, past experiences and the need to move forward. What should we call this? I’d like to call it a redesign done well.
In the end, there’s nothing wrong with moving forwards, and so it essentially comes down to two things: do you want to, and can you make it better.
Before embarking on a redesign, it is a good idea to deal with these two issues, before you lift a pen.
Let’s say you want to redesign, and you think you can make it better. Let’s first note that making it better rarely means improving the visuals. After all, we’re doing the christmas-tree here, not the decoration. Still, a christmas-tree is in itself a proven design—can we improve this?
Focus! Identify Goals To Achieve
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you signed up for Google Analytics when they were still accepting signups and you later on read Mr. Cabanillas review of Analytics Overlay. If this is the case, take a look, and see where people click:
Ahh. Where people click. As you’ll notice, most of the links shown here are actually being visited. Some are visited more than others. Particularly orphaned sections seem to be Installments, Photography, Wallpapers and Noteworthy entries / illustrations.
One could say this is understandable since those sections are more static and less organic than the journal you’re reading now. Even so, I would like to drive more clicks to those sections. As such, this in itself could be identified as a goal, whether this means improving usability or something else.
You’ll notice that the Archives and Colophon sections are fairly equally visited. Those are sections that serve very specific purposes and there’s no sense in driving more traffic to them. Maybe they don’t deserve to be primary navigation?
Ah, two goals already. Now how about some numbers; Analytics tells me that I get approx. 2 pageviews per every single user. Whether that means the RSS feed and a single article of interest, or if it’s the journal and the comments for a single entry, it’s ever so slightly disappointing. Showing more points of interest may be a goal, or maybe it’s just goal #1 restated?
Three goals for improving the end-user experience. But what about my personal experience? Making it easier for myself always increases my productivity.
- The practical issues of uploading an installment should be easier for me.
This probably means automating various aspects of the process.
- Writing and interlinking should be easier.
Lots of things to do here, but some of the actionpoints could be improving the post display, readability, page navigation and search.
- Monthly rebranding should be possible.
A while back, I asked my visitors whether a monthly rebranding was a nuisance to them or not. Essentially it wasn’t, as long as the main branding of the site shone through.
- I want more space and less scrolling.
Does that mean liquid width design?
- Make it possible to move good content bubbles to the top, even if they’re old bubbles.
Add value to your work. Give it a name that sums up the core values of your redesign. If a new idea pops into your head during the design phase, hold it up to its name and see if it fits.
Seeing as I need to unite sections of the whole that have drifted apart, I call it Pangea;
Pangaea (Greek for “all lands”) is the supercontinent that existed during the Mesozoic era, before the process of plate tectonics separated the component continents.