Dev Shortie: Rules For Your Redesign


There are a large number of considerations that need to be addressed before you redesign or rebuild your website. I’ve written many things on the subject in long form, but I thought it might be helpful to break these down into a quick-to-absorb “Dev Shortie.”

None of these considerations are outside the realm of common sense, but the excitement of redesign opportunities that become available when building a fresh website can make us tend to forget why we need something new or who we’re doing it for. So, let’s get into it. These are the rules for your redesign.

Rule 1: Have a Reason.

Have a valid reason for your redesign. “I want something new,” isn’t a valid reason. “Our current website is not accessible,” and, “We don’t have a mobile responsive design,” are valid reasons.

Keep in mind that the level of redesign should be in line with the weight of the reason. For example, “We’ve completely changed our identity and branding,” would carry more thought, weight, and work compared to, “We have accessibility contrast issue on our current site.” You must address accordingly.

Rule 2: Do Your Research.

Do the research first. You don’t get a new site design until you know who it’s for and what that group of people expect. The younger your demographic, the more you might skew social or mobile, whereas older generations might have accessibility concerns or expect something more “traditional.” Everything that happens in the design will be influenced by this data.

One of the rules of a redesign is to do your research. This image is a photograph of a man sitting at a computer and reading something on screen with an intense look on his face. There is a large window with no curtains beside him on the wall, letting a lot of natural light.

Rule 3: It’s Not for You.

You have clients, investors, subscribers, and consumers of your content. The website is for them. Leave your preconceived notions of what is “good” or “bad” about your new design, and think about your demographic.

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Rule 4: You Probably Don’t Need That.

There are a lot of new trends. Every day, I find at least one new thing that someone is trying out. The difference between those companies and you is that their brand is defined by cutting-edge progress in web development. I imagine you need something to inform and support your users long term. So before you request a feature, ask yourself, “Do I need it?”

Rule 5: There Is Such a Thing as Too Much.

You don’t need to fit everything on the homepage, above the fold. You need a plan—small bits of calculated targeted content to get the job done. You have seconds to funnel your users, not minutes. You have a whole website in which to put that extra content.

One of the rules of redesign is that there is such a thing as too much. This image is a photograph of a storefront window of a junk shop and shows an extreme amount of vintage tins stacked atop of one another, with the pile falling over.

Rule 6: Unless You’re Amazon, Your Navigation Doesn’t Need To Be That Complex.

Unless you’re selling loads of products that require complex search algorithms and boundless numbers of categories and organizational strategy, you don’t need 90 pages and 14 drop-downs in your navigation. I imagine your core business could be summed up in a half a dozen parent pages, which is a clean and simple alternative. If you’ve done your research, you should know where your users are expecting to go and what they’re expecting to find.

Now You Know.

Rules one, two, and three are really the holy grail of design rules, although all of these are heavily based on common sense. So instead of reiterating the importance of them, I thought I’d expand a little on rule two, which often gets forgotten or ignored—partially, perhaps, because of time, but most often because the task itself can feel overwhelming and you may not know where to start. Here is a fantastic set of places to get you started on your research journey.

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