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30 Mar 2009 / Julie

cil2009: Webdesign pitfalls

Redesign: the pitfalls and perils and how to avoid them
Jeff Wisniewski, jeffw@pitt.edu

Major redesign pitfall: redesigning when you don’t really need to redesign

Bad reasons to redesign
* it’s been x years/months since we redesigned
* the boss says i have to
* I’m boooored with the site

Good reasons to redesign
* when your navigation is dysfunctional (<< yep for us) * when your site doesn’t scale (<< yep for us) * when your site is difficult to update (<< yep for us) * when your code is hopelessly *cough cough* sick (<< yep for us *cough* frontpage *cough*) * when your site has poor usability (<< yep for us) * when it is not performing based on your site’s goals/objectives (you do have those, right?) (<< yep for us) redevelop v. redesign redevelop website = triple bypass, higher cost to u and ur user redesign = cosmetic surgery, low cost for u and ur users. if it aint broke, dont fix it. does the site need to look completely different? can you fix the usability issues without losing the current look and feel? a completely new look and feel can be distruptive to users. “The quiet death of the major relaunch” by Jare M. Spool (may 28, 2003) users dislike redesigns… a lot * facebook anti-redesign group has 1.7 million members * last.fm redesign drew over 2k comments often strongly negative * beware the vocal majority * be evidence based… your new sites tests better, right? Redesign and the 5 stages of user grief * denial, anger, barganing, depression, acceptance. the site was perfect… you have rendered the site useless and you suck!… if you could just revert back to the old… i have no idea what i’m going to do now… while i dislike the design i was able to find the catalog link quite easily. website maintenance = boring. redesign= exciting. “we’re aware of that issue, but we’re waiting for the redesign…” [insert time/launch x you/users photo here] DISCOVERY STAGE Pitfall: failing to account for assessment time and effort - “spend your money where the water damage is” Do you know where your water is? where is going to give you the greatest ROI? ID what is the most important content on your website; redesign to accomodate it Pitfall: not knowing enough about your current site before you begin - look at where ppl are going, where are they NOT going, what pages they enter into and what pages they leave from (google analytics, clicky) - review past usability studies. if it’s been a while, do one NOW - tip: find and document your current google page rank. you don’t want to lose your page rank after your redesign PITFALL: proceeding without consensus of goals (aka BUY IN) - investing time reaching consensus on the need for a change, what needs to be changed, what the desired outcomes are. Generating buy-in - show your director what cool things OTHER libraries are doing - show him or her data indicating that your site isn’t functioning PITFALL: trying to reach too much consensus design my committee = death data + evidence-based practice = harmony and world peace PITFALLS: being an expert define constituencies and include them in the process Is a traditional page based model the best? check out CMS, Blogs, wikis PITFALLS: spending too much time “designing” Seth Godin: “I’m going to go out on a limb and beg you not to create a new design. There are a billion pages on the web. surely there is one you can start with.” Spend your time on great CONTENT! and SERVICES! freecsstemplates.org csszengarden.com dynamicdrive.com PITFALLS: looking at other library sites. DO look at non-library sites; where ppl are spending their time Have SMART goals Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely COMMUNICATE ENOUGH. be transparent and open. consider a redesign blog/wiki to help people up to date with the process and ask for FEEDBACK. also helps you manage users expectations. Good for PR. EXECUTION [electric chair picture? haha] Pitfall: communicating TOO MUCH. redesign by committee still death. look to evidence to short circut tedious discussions. usability.gov, useit.com, surl.org, uie.com Pitfall: not providing users a clear path. define your primary functions and make sure these paths are clear. (julie’s note: using AUN, meetings, talking to each other, scheduling?) Dont reinvent the wheel. from javascripts to css… it’s probably been done already Where should you spend time $ and effort? - Remarkable content- you have a staff full of experts! content is well written. Invest time in REWRITING content! don’t cut and paste! - Remarkable tools – engagement tools, searching, etc design for search engine optimization (SEO) - simple URLs - page titles = descriptive - proper and consistent user of structural HTML - descriptive alt tags (also good for accessibility) - submit a new site map to google (sitemap generators) - ask google to remove outdate/removed/old content from it’s index (cache) design with social media optimization (SMO) in mind - social bookmark links PITFALL : moving or eliminating good content Don’t forget to update your robots.txt file update your analytics definitions, paths, groups, etc PLAN BEYOND THE REDESIGN * content strategy- maintencance strategy… hmm that’s fresh * move from macro redesign to micro changes

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