Monday, March 30, 2009

Website Redesign Pitfalls Session Notes

(this session was awesome - right on, the type of stuff I try to disseminate to MPOW's Web Presence Committee! Thanks Jeff Wisniewski!) My notes, in detail:
“ Redesign: The Pitfalls & Perils & How to Avoid Them”
Jeff Wisniewski –

Major redesigns every couple of years might not be the best way to do things. Smaller, more frequent changes would be less disruptive for users, easier for everyone;

Things you DON’T want to do:

- Redesigning when you don’t NEED to redesign
o Retuning / reskinning can be better
o Bad reasons to redo:
§ It’s been x months/years since we redesigned
§ The box says I have to
§ I’m boooooored with the site

Good reasons to redo:
· When navigation is dysfunctional
· When your site doesn’t scale
· When your site is difficult to update
· When your codes is hopelessly “cough cough” sick
· When your site has poor usability (hopefully you’re doing us ability testing on your site)
· When it’s not performing based on your sites’ goals/objectives (you do have those, right?)

Difference: Redevelop vs. redesign -- Redevelop = triple bypass; Redesign = cosmetic surgery
Cost comparison:
- Redesign – cost to you, cost to user both = low
- Redevelop - cost to you, cost to user both = high

Does site need to look completely different? (Amazon’s look & feel has stayed the same most of their existence, very successful – consistency over time helped)
Good to think about maintaining some consistency in look & feel even after redesign
The Quiet Death of the Major Re-Launch, copyright 2003

- Facebook anti-redesign group has 1.7 million members
- redesign drew over 2,000 comments, often strongly negative

· Beware the vocal majority
· Be evidence-based -- your new site tests better, right?

Redesign & 5 stages of user grief
· Denial: why did you change it? I was always abel to find what I needed
· Anger: You have rendered the site useless & I will never use it again
· Bargaining: If you could just revert to the old ejournal page (in addition) that would be great
· Depression: I have no idea what I’m going to do now
· Acceptance: While I dislike the redesign I was able to find the catalog

Bad reasons to redesign: Maintenance = boring; redesign = exciting
Do we really hate to redesign? Sometimes not so much, buys time. Someone complains about site usability and we say “I know, but we are going to redesign so, we’ll save it for that” (buys ourselves a few months breathing space).
Users like redesigned site better over time; webmasters dislike redesigned site more over time

Discovery Stage:
· Pitfall: failing to account for assessment time & effort
· Spend your money where the water is: areas with greatest ROI should have effort expended - best services / content that you want

· Pitfall: not knowing enough about your current site before you begin
o Look at where people are going in the site, where they’re NOT going, what pages they enter into and what pages they leave from
§ Google Analytics
§ Clicky
o Review page usability studies
o If it’s been a while do one NOW
o TIP: find and document your current Google Page Rank – search on commonly used search terms
o Don’t want to lose ground on SEO

· Pitfall: proceeding without consensus on goals, aka, buy-in (for some aspects –see below)
o Investing time reaching consensus on:
§ A need for change
§ What needs to be changed
· Tips on getting buy-in
o Show manager other libraries’ cool sites
o Show him/her data showing that site is not functioning

· Pitfall: Trying to Reach too much consensus
o Death by committee – depends on org culture
o Design by committee = DEATH!!!!
o Data + evidence-based practice = harmony & world peace

· Pitfall: being an expert
o Define the constituencies and INCLUDE them in the process
o Librarians ARE users of the site, but they’re also info experts with mad skills, so they aren’t good folks to test site for usability;
o If final design works great for users, but doesn’t work for the librarian, that’s ok, because as info pros, we can figure it all out – part of our jobs, but you can’t require the users to go through the extra effort to figure out an unusable site.

· Pitfall: Thinking inside the box
o Think about using non-traditional platform
§ Blog
§ Wiki

· Pitfall: spending too much time “designing” (Seth Godin – Purple Cow – love his marketing books)
o “I’m going to go out on a limb and beg you not to create an original design; there are more than a billion pages on the web, surely there’s one you can start with?” Godin
o Can lose a lot of hours on not using templates, etc., just designing
o Spend time on great services, vs. content
· Look Here:

· Pitfall: Looking at only OTHER LIBRARY SITES
o Users’ expectations are NOT FORMED on library web sites, but by their experience on the web as a whole

· Pitfall: Not having smart goals for redesign
o Specific
o Attainable
o Timely
o Necessary
· E.g., Increase Google Page rank – x% improvement in usability; avg time to get content up on site reduced ; show increase in user engagement, as measured by number of blog comments

· Pitfall: failing to communicate enough:
o Consider a redesign blog or wiki
o Manage users’ expectations

· Pitfall: Communicating TOO MUCH
o Redesign by committee is rarely pretty (don’t use committee)
o Look to evidence to short circuit tedious discussions

· Pitfall: Not providing users a clear path
o Define the primary functions of your site & make sure these paths are clear
o Example, Queens Library as effective site – evidence that connecting people with materials is primary task

· Pitfall: Reinventing the wheel
o From javascripts to css, chances are, it’s been done already
· Where to spend time, $, effort
o Remarkable content:
§ All libraries have staffs full of experts
· Reading lists
· Course-based guides
· Reviews
o Remarkable tools
§ Next gen opac
§ Fed search
§ Ejournal finder
§ Photo tagging
§ Engagement tools for users (comments, reviews, blog posts)
§ Assignment calculator
o Design for SEO:
§ url structure
· simple urls
· page titles (descriptive)
· proper and consistent use of structural html
o h1, h2, h3, e.g.
o Descriptive alt tags (for accessibility & search engines)
§ More SEO:
· Submit new sitemap to Google
o Ask Google to remove from cache

· Pitfall: not designing with SMO (Social media optimization in mind)
o Social bookmark links:
§ Tag your pages
§ Redesign with user-generated content in mind

· Pitfall: moving or eliminating good content
o Update robots.txt file
o Update your analytics definitions, paths, groups, etc.

· Pitfall: not planning beyond the redesign
o Content strategy
§ Mmm fresh – keep content fresh
§ Maintenance strategy
· Move from macro redesign to micro changes – the perpetual beta (can only be done if you redevelop in a sustainable way first go ‘round

1 comment:

Nancy Peluso said...

The 5 stages of grief - how clever is that?! Thanks so much for sharing this info, I think it'll help us with the drupal discussions. Keep learning...we're counting on you :)