Wednesday 17 October 2007

Redesign or FAIL?

Since about six months ago I’ve been talking about a rebrand/redesign.

I had some exceptional work presented to me, and I also had really great input from a variety of web leaders.

But you know what? As flawed as it might be (like me putting inline style everywhere, LazyMols) I really still am attached to this design. Patrick Lauke worked on it with me.

I’ve asked some of our top designers including Bryan Veloso, Dan Rubin, Christopher Schmitt and Andy Clarke to weigh in on my rebrand.

Nothing inspires me. Patrick was the original genius, and I still look at this web site, despite its flaws, as exactly what and who I am. I think Patrick really captured me, and now I need to think about next redesign steps.

What do you thinik?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 02:04 | Comments (48)

Comments (48)

  1. If you like it, stick with it 🙂

  2. If you don’t see the need to rebrand/redesign why bother. In my opion your site looks and feels good, so stick with it…

  3. Depends on your original reason for wanting to redesign. Perhaps what you need is a design refresh to match your new/changed requirements.

  4. Instead of a re-design, what about a re-fluff of the current design, get rid of any dust bunnies you don’t like?

    I’m working on my re-design right now. Long time coming.

  5. How about an evolution of this design then? The branding’s good, but there’s more that can be done with the place.

  6. i think we all come here/rss you for the content.

    perhaps some tidying up under the hood, but why do you feel the need to ‘rebrand’? you being the ‘brand’, speak through your content.

  7. I have to say that regardless of anything you have to admit the current brand has worked for you.

    It really is hard to justify fixing what ain’t really broke… maybe spend the time cleaning up your underlying code instead.??

  8. In my opinion, there are three potential reasons for a redesign:

    1. Your requirements have changed, and “tweaking” the current design would either (a) fail to meet those requirements, or (b) meet those requirements, but in a crufty, hacky, unmaintainable way.

    2. The current design is crufty, hacky and unmaintainable, and you feel that by investing some time in reimplementing it, you will benefit in the long term.

    2. You enjoy the process of redesigning.

  9. I understand your dilemma…

    For me, the current design is a big piece of who I perceive you to be, and a dramatic change would create one of those extreme makeover moments; shock at first, that would then take me some time to get used to the ‘new you’.

    Pardon me for being so forward, but Molly you need nothing more than a little touch-up around the edges. Build on what you’ve got – add a subtle dye to your locks, err I mean links (the left hand column is difficult for me to read), buff up your photo-graphic in the masthead, maybe adjust your belt a little and play around with the white space – that should be more than enough to freshen things up.

  10. You obviously missed Jared Spool at the Webmaster Jam Session when you were here in Dallas. He said it’s never a good idea to redesign. Stick to the iterative process.

    With that being said I’m in the middle of a complete overhaul of the Town’s site where I work, so I obviously took his advice to heart.

  11. I suggest you tweak it a little for larger resolution screens (the content section is a little on the wide side for my monitor, close to 900px). Otherwise, keep loving it. 🙂

  12. I think the question you need to ask is why do you feel a redesign is required? If it’s just that the design has been in place for some time… well, that’s not really a reason… But if you feel the design is lacking in some way due to change in fashion, etc., then that’s worth looking at. And you could go for evolving it, (e.g. some simple cosmetic changes – rounded corners, drop shadow, change of tone) rather than wiping it out completely and starting afresh…

  13. I like your site, but the thought of a redesign gets me all excited. I know that didn’t help a bit, sorry. 🙁

  14. The old design still looks fine to me. 🙂
    If you like it, too, then I vote for keeping it, possibly with a few tweaks. (Whether you keep the *implementation* is a completely different matter).

  15. Don’t redesign, it’s a waste of time. Concentrate on content and do some reshuffling/tidying. I know you are busy and on the go a lot so some of this stuff prob falls into the category of “I’ll get to it when I have time.” You need an intern or something. 🙂


    Events page needs to be updated.

    On posts with lots of comments, I find it difficult sometimes to track (scan) where one comment ends and another begins.

    Why can’t I buy your books off your site? Or at least link to amazon?

    Your right col content seems to load randomly depending on what page I’m on.

    Speaking of cols, my _preference_ for 3col sites is to have the 2 smaller columns together on the right. It allows the main content to stand on it’s own more. Again, this is a preference.

    Consider merging your Fun and About section. Since the Fun section is still relatively about you.

    The In Addition section on the articles page needs to be linked.

    This page doesn’t seem to carry the brand.

  16. The dilemma of the contemporary blog design… Find something you like and it has to change! The other side of the question is the personal attachment to a design.

    One, very relevant, question is how you want your business to be perceived. Stable and known, or dynamic and risk-taking? Au corrant or ‘pleasing and serviceable’ (but lacking freshness!).

    Freshening up a design works; this isn’t quite the same as the “iterative” process described. The fashion industry and the web-design business do have a lot in common, with the caveat that if the site is perceived as “dowdy” it’s not perceived as relevant.

    Sometimes it’s better to just do a new design; other times, a freshening up of an existing design works well. But continual redesign can be seen as flighty, or that you’re simply chasing the trends (“in some desperate attempt to appear relevant” being the subtext.)

    What you shouldn’t do, however, is become attached to a design to the point where you can’t change it! Especially in an industry that is as dynamic and ever-changing as the web-design business is.

    Carolyn Ann

  17. Andy Clarke said, during the last visit you and he made to Los Alamos, that he seeks inspiration for designs in nature. If you’re thinking about doing something to your website, then get away from it. Go outside and look around. Figure out what you want, and see how close you are to it already.

  18. “…I still look at this web site, despite its flaws, as exactly what and who I am. I think Patrick really captured me…”

    How often does that happen and how great is it when it does? I agree that unless you are tired of looking at it or need to restructure for some reason, it may be best to take this design to the next level.

    My only suggestion from a readers point of view is to make the link text in the left sidebar easier to read, maybe darker/higher contrast. The right side is already easy to read.

    From a ‘very opinionated about small details’ personal preference point of view, I would like if the top nav links were highlighted on hover in a different way than underlining in green. Maybe underline in blue? Also I would like if the green line above the top links extended to the end of the middle column. No good reason for either of those things at all other than personal pickiness.

    I really like the branding, the colors, the cleanness of the design, and agree with the suggestion that having the 2 narrow columns on the right would make the content stand out more. I think it would also make the site even cleaner looking and easier to read.

  19. Hey Molls. Like a lot of other folks commenting, I don’t really see a need for a full-on rebranding. But I’d definitely do some typographical clean-up and layout fiddling with the current design. I’m no Christopher Schmitt 😉 but I may kick around some CSS tweaks of my own and shoot ’em over to you.

  20. The current design is still ok I guess. But a few little tweaks to the typography and interface will make it a lot better. So you might concentrate on that instead of a total redesign.

  21. Hi Molly — I’m not in your business, so I can’t speak to this professionally — and I’ve been redoing my sites, so I understand the impulse.

    I also know that, for me, part of that impulse is an attempt to both reconnect with, and avoid, making the content that is the real heart of the site.

    If you want to play, but like what you have — maybe take some of the above ‘tweaking’ suggestions, and then do that fancy thing I see elsewhere (but haven’t the skill to do myself) where a site offers a variety of designs?

    Then you can still have your main ‘branded’ design, but offer some fun & challenge for your readers and yourself.

    Just a word, too — what you have transcends your ‘brand’ — I read you for awhile before I realized you had written the book on my shelf — I read *you* — and you are not a brand.

  22. Hey Molly – I hear what you’re saying, and maybe there’s a way of updating the look of the site while keeping the same colours, three-column layout, and header branding as you have now…sort of a ‘web site makeover’ rather than a complete overhaul. 😉

    Actually, there might be a chance for a bit of fun here….

    Keep the original design. But invite the opportunity for a redesign from some of your readers – and once a month (for, say, a week) you choose a new design to represent the site…and can always re-skin back to the original design at any time. That way, if a really excellent new design comes along that changes your mind – it can have a chance to influence you on the main stage while keeping the safety net of knowing that the current look is still available.

    How’s that for an idea? 😉

  23. I think that am necessary to this site new design since this already obsoletly. Such sites did 2 years ago.

  24. I think you shouldn’t be thinking “rehaul” the whole thing. If you like the branding of the site, keep it.

    Write down a map of your site on paper and see if the flow is where you want it. Is it easy to find things? Do transitions work (i.e. – flow from one subject matter to the next)? If they don’t, rework the flow of the site. You might find something sticking out like a sore thumb…and when you redesign the site flow…do you get the feeling like a brand redesign is warranted? I think most of the time, when I feel like re-doing the whole thing, it’s just a matter of organizing it differently that is pushing me to feel that way.

  25. I think your site should be updated.

    Your current site is not very easy on the eye. It takes a lot of work to read.
    Comments are very difficult to get through.

  26. I have to say that regardless of anything you have to admit the current brand has worked for you.

    It really is hard to justify fixing what ain’t really broke… maybe spend the time cleaning up your underlying code instead.??

  27. But I’d definitely do some typographical clean-up and layout fiddling with the current design

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