10 August 2010

How to redesign a website in 5 weeks

You will need:

  • A dedicated room – a usability lab or ‘war room’ if you like
  • A dithering of designers. Pick and mix any five or six from:
    • Information architect
    • Interaction designer
    • Usability engineer
    • User interface designer
    • User researcher
    • Any other title using one or more of the above terms
  • Reams of paper, pens, pencils, crayons, glue, pipe cleaners and felt (glitter optional)
  • A Spotify playlist with at least 500 songs, none of which shall be by Maroon 5

Step One – Review the internets

Be exhaustive in your research. Critiquing everything from the International Association of Time Travellers member’s forum through to People of Walmart. Oh, and probably some competitor sites. Like Fail blog.

Step Two – Inspiration wall Print out the best elements then get an adult to cut them out. Next, stick them on the walls and windows. Look at them often for inspiration. Try and work a silverback gorilla into all of your designs.

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Step Three – Early prototyping

Sketch out some designs. For websites, start by drawing an empty rectangle on the page. This represents the web page.

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Step Four – User feedback

Show your early prototypes to people whose profile closely matches that of your websites key personas. Failing that, show them to the stakeholders who’re lining up to kick your ass should the project fail.

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You: “What are you thinking?”

Them: “Does that rectangle represent the webpage?”

You: “Mmmmaybe…”

Them: “But the piece of paper itself is a rectangle. Why draw a rectangle on it?”

You: “I would explain, but I don’t want to bias your feedback.”

Step Five – Iterate the designs

You’ll now spend the following weeks in a cyclical design process which goes something like Sketching > Feedback > Swearing > Sketching > Feedback > Arguing > Coffee > Sketching > Beer At some point you will want to move away from the sketches and create designs with higher fidelity. We use Balsamiq because it makes your higher fidelity designs look like sketches.

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Step Six – Plan B

By this point it’s week 5 and you’ve already known for four weeks that you’d never get it done in five. Take a holiday and delay your return by encouraging the French to strike (easy). Have a ‘day out’ at the company’s expense. Undergo root canal treatment. Anything that will persuade the stakeholders to give you more time… Suggest another 12 weeks. When they agree and leave the room, high-fives all round and bring out the 12 year old malt whiskey.

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To be continued… (hic)

Post by: Adam Walker

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