By Dean Burney
Jul 20, 2011

Our Redesign - Did We Get it Right?

How do you measure the success of a web design?  I’m not talking about conversion rates, visits or bounces, or any number of analytical figures you can ultimately use to evaluate the effectiveness of site – I’m talking purely about the design.  How do you know when the design is right?

Certainly there are designs that don’t work – disjointed typography, poor balance or composition, clashing colors, etc.   But with a team of experienced designers, you get past those basic issues pretty quickly.  You have designs that, in the most objective measures, work.   The question becomes, do they work for the client?

As designers, we all love to look at site designs and throw around our opinions as to why we like something and why we don’t.  In general, we love to see new ideas, fresh approaches to old challenges – often because we are tired of executing the same solutions over and over.  Unfortunately, clients often aren’t always as interested in “fresh” – they want tried and tested – so design then becomes a balancing act.  How do we put fresh ideas out there that we are proud of, that also work and make the client happy? It’s an ongoing challenge, and the best designers are those that can successfully navigate that aesthetic negotiation.

So what happens when a company redesigns its own site.  This should be easy, right?  In this rare case, we don’t have clients to negotiate with regarding our vision, so we should be able to put this together with ease, right?  Dead wrong.  In fact, this is the most difficult of challenges.  Instead of just one client, we have a company full of clients – the most critical ones we’ve ever experienced - ourselves.  Even the designers themselves are put in the uncomfortable situation of being their own clients. They are representing themselves in this too, so how can their vision be wrong?  They can’t, but they aren’t necessarily right either.  So what do we do?

In some cases, agencies will actually hire another design firm to help them remove their internal bias, and become just the client instead of the client and consultant.  It seems appealing on one hand, but on the other, it is just wrong.  If we can’t turn our process on ourselves with success, we are in the wrong business.  We desperately wanted a site that was a pure reflection of ourselves.  We had to fight through this – even if it killed us.  It was that important to us.

So instead, we dove right in.  We scrawled and sketched.  Furiously whiteboarded. Hashed and rehashed.  Competed, voted and debated (read, argued).  It wasn’t always pretty, but the important thing is, we came together.  We divided and conquered. Literally everyone in the company played a vital role in bringing it to life.

As we look back on the design, we ask ourselves, is the design right?  Although not one person will say it matched their vision exactly, together it does, because we did it together. Nobody knows what is right and wrong, but it is us, and at the end of the day, that is exactly what we set out to do.  We couldn’t be more proud.

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