Friday, August 31, 2007

Thinking in the Right Terms: 7 Components for a Successful Web Site Redesign

Tips for redesigning websites ...

"Lately, we've had a flurry of clients contacting us about their latest redesign project, wanting to know what advice we can give them. We talk to them, discussing their team's needs and what is driving the redesign effort.

In many cases, we discover the team is thinking only in the short term. Of course, because they have immediate deadlines and resources to manage, they need to focus on what's happening right now. The short term, after all, is where we all live day-to-day.

We've spent the last five years studying teams involved in major redesign efforts. Some teams regularly produce innovative, user-satisfying enhancements to their sites. Other teams work hard, but their efforts result in expensive changes that, after all is said and done, don't really enhance the user's experience or help the business.

As we analyze the difference between these two types of teams, we've noticed a pattern: teams who focus on the long term are far more likely to create designs that really pay off for the organization. Short-term thinking gets the design done, but the team ends up doing it all over again months down the road. Long-term thinking deals with the inevitability of changes and turns the site in a living, breathing entity that grows with the organization's needs.

In our research, we've uncovered seven essential long-term components to reach a successful redesign project.

1. Make Sure You Have A Vision

We suggest clients look five or ten years into the future and ask the question, "What will using our site be like on that date? What experience will the user have?" Team members from the best organizations can answer this question. They have a consistent, clear idea what the user's experience will be like in the future. Having a clear vision lets the team chart a direction for their design, helping identify if any design idea is moving them closer to the vision or farther away.

It's critical the vision not focus on future technology but instead on future experience. What are the steps in today's process that makes things cumbersome or frustrating? How could the experience become more delightful?

One of our financial services clients constructed a vision where banking clients easily manage all their money and credit from a single screen, or can simply check their financial forecast from their mobile phone when, say, deciding if they can afford that new car, while simultaneously getting competitive quotes for insurances and car loans from their primary institution. While it would be impossible to do this with today's legacy infrastructure, it's possible to see something like this 10 years from now. The design team, using this vision, can then work in baby steps to getting as close to it today as the technology will allow. As the technology improves, they can get even closer."    (Continued via UIE)    [Usability Resources]

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