A Complete Guide On Preparing Yourself For A Website Redesign Project (Part 1/2)

Posted on September 22, 2011 by
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Introduction

Website redesign can be a big job and you need to handle it with care. Those who own a portfolio sites, blogs or others probably have thought about implementing a new design to accommodate latest development in the industry. For many website owners, the redesign project never really comes. So great and monumental the task, it deters some people from even planning it.

Why does such a simple task can be so scary? Why is it so hard to move forward even when we have decided to do it?

The problem is often the lack of proper planning and the poor understanding on valid reasons for a redesign project. Once we identified these factors, we are perfectly ready for success. We will discuss how to plan and implement a new site design, and how to determine the perfect time for a redesign project.

Each designer has unique clients and projects. They need to take care of their customers and earn a living by working hard everyday. If you have enough time on your hands and can work in parallel then, you should try to invest enough time for personal growth and gain more exposure in the market. Often, a side project can improve your portfolio effectively.

Why site redesign project fails?

To many, redesign tasks are all too familiar. But usually we consider these side projects as low priority, although we really want to redesign our site, time and other resources are often limited. No wonder we never get the time or the energy to redesign the site.

  • * You may be able to squeeze some time to work with the new design, with the hope that at least you make some progress in the redesign project. It may seem feasible at first, however trying to be highly productive everyday, when the regular site management tasks are overwhelming enough, can be counter-productive. When we are already exhausted at the end of the day, we often say “I’ll do it tomorrow!”  But unfortunately, it never happens.
  • *

  • Another reason why we fail to make progress is that we can’t articulate redesign requirements effectively. What should be included in the redesign project and how should the project look like? When you finally launch Adobe Photoshop to create a mock-up, we realize that we do not have a clue where to start. And when we do come up with something, for some reason we are not satisfied with it. This leads us to conclude that a redesign project can’t be treated like a side job.
  • * If we are finally motivated to work, we already get too confused and too tired. It isn’t possible to push ourselves toward perfection in this situation.

You should understand why we often fail, because it is the first, important step towards success. Let’s take a look at how we should deal with these obstacles and get everything done.

Should you do the redesign project at all?

Not all sites must be redesigned, at least not for now. You shouldn’t change your design because you’re being bored with it. In fact, this can give you a very poor result. The purpose of redesign project is to improve the usability and to bring the site to the next evolutional step.

If you don’t have a good enough reason to start a redesign project, it could be harmful for you. These are some of the reasons:

  • * People expect consistency. We demand consistency when we visit a site. Whether your site has a huge audience or not, the site design should be closely tied with the site identity and it is, in fact, should be part of the brand. With a comprehensive evaluation, your site will be recognizable to visitors.
  • * A good redesign project takes time. Planning, design, testing and often re-planning. Working with something related to redesign project can take all day. The redesign project is not a paying job; therefore you should do it, only if it serves a very good purpose. Boredom is not a good enough reason to start a redesign project.
  • * If your normal schedule is already tight, a poorly planned redesign project could seriously threaten the entire site, as you’ll have less time to improve the site in other areas. In an attempt to improve your site, a redesign project could actually make things worse.

Often, we really want to redesign our site to the point that we neglect its real purpose. A misguided attempt may lead the whole online business astray. Your site may only need some cleaning up, but not a complete overhaul.

Should you redesign or realign your site?

Often, the desire to redesign a site is focused purely on aesthetic factors; however the desire to realign a site is usually more purpose-driven. The former wants to re-construct the site, while the latter simply wants to reposition the current website elements.

So just ask yourself this question: Does your site need a complete overhaul, or does it only needs some tweaking?

If you think that a redesign project is not suitable for your site, then you may have just saved a lot of money and effort. You can choose instead to realign current elements of the site. If you want to add new features in your site, you can create a space by realigning the existing site elements.

If you insist that you do need a complete site redesign, then this article can help you to do it properly.

It’s all about timing

Because a redesign project can take a long time to complete, then you should plan ahead to get the right timing. A good designer must create a sensible timeline and a workable schedule for the project.

Don’t treat a redesign project as a routine. A good schedule shouldn’t allow you to make an excuse. Simply allocating three hours everyday; isn’t enough, because by 4 PM, you may still be occupied with daily routines. You need, for example, allocate a definite time for the redesign project, for example from 9.30 AM to 12.30 PM.

Also take time to discuss with the visitors about the redesign project. Make a few blog posts to explain about the redesign project and its current developments. You should take into account all the feedback visitors give you.

When should you redesign the site?

Finding the perfect time for redesigning the site is as crucial as the actual work itself. If you plan to redesign your portfolio site, what will happen if a prospective client wants to visit your site? “Under construction” sites often scare away prospective clients.

You should make sure that any plan for site upgrades won’t coincide with the redesign project. Redesigning a site just before the site is upgraded can be a pointless thing to do, because a carefully designed layout may need to be changed again. Your new design should be flexible enough to accommodate future changes and upgrades. Allocate some spaces for possible addition of new features.

Dealing with the planning phase

The first question is “where should I begin?” you need to plan sufficiently and properly. A poorly planned redesign project may cause problems later on; consequently, you may need to do plenty of correction.

Planning is an essential part of any project. At first, many designers start by considering about how they should organize the visual elements and navigation structure. Often, we neglect the content, which is a mistake.

No matter how wonderful your new website design is, content is still and always be the king. Good design definitely help, but a good design alone can’t keep your site alive. You should have a thorough consideration on imagery, detailed typography and readability.

Assessing the current readability of your site is important. This is a good thing to do, but you can do better. You should look for these weak points in your site.

  • * Check whether the site have enough contrast?
  • * Check whether the baseline line height, alignment and others can complement the design well.
  • Check whether the content area hinders the overall readability.
  • * Check whether the content area is flexible enough. At what stretch point the area finally breaks and renders your contents illegible?
  • * Check whether all style elements, including blockquote and pre, serve your purpose well.
  • * Check whether your fonts are well suited to your letter spacing and audience.

Even if your site is already highly readable, is it possible to enhance the typography by using typographic scale and vertical rhythm?

Before redesigning your site, you should thoroughly analyze your current typography. You should seek feedback from others, especially other designers, to make sure that you can have better content placement, typographic appeal and readability.

Another thing to consider before a redesign project is to check the characteristics of your content, including its size and type. Make sure your images match your content well.

Depending on your site characteristics; images, videos and other multimedia may need to be redesigned to properly accommodate the width and the position of your content area.

In general, you may not need to redesign the entire content area to be wider or narrower than the original, because some unintended complications may arise. If the width of the content area appears to compromise readability, you should approach this issue systematically. Obviously, you need to optimize your content and images first, before performing a redesign.

Continue Reading Part 2 here…

About: This Article was Contributed by Raja. He is a Web Hosting industry watcher and writes regularly on Dedicated Hosting Reviews and Reseller Hosting Reviews.

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