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Web Design

On “Ultramicroscopic,”:http://www.ultramicroscopic.com/ one of my new favorite weblogs concerning design, a recent entry has sparked a fuse in my aging brain and I thought I would use the comment I left on this site as a springboard for a more technical entry today.

bq. late last year zeldman did a public redesign of his site. visible changes happened daily. some minor some major, some even seemingly contradictory to changes made the previous week or sometimes day. At SxSW in the spring he talked about the redesign. his main reason for doing it publicly was to share the redesign process and the thoughts in action with his readers (largely made up of web developers). his was not the first to transform before his users eyes, but definitely the first high profile site of some one regarded as a direction setter in the industry.

i am a great fan of zeldman, but this irritated me greatly. it seems like a whimpy way out. as a visual designer, i take a stand right or wrong with my designs. the potential for failure has always been an accepted risk. as a visual designer i am presenting a specific identity or persona to my users. I only want them to see the finished product, i do not want them peeking behind the curtain.

Zeldman, from “Zeldman.com”:http://www.zeldman.com/ is a leader in standards web design, by publicly updating his site he was, in a sense, teaching and inviting critique of his code from other designers and developers. Standards design is still woefully inadequate in ease of use and applicability, so by showing us his readership his process, it opened the door, both for help and discussion.

As a graphic designer, newly thrown into the field of standards based web design, I found the redesign an eye-opener. I also feel that graphic design is a process, and web design doubly so, because of it’s nature it is open to collaboration, review, and update. I agree that a designer should stick to his ideals of design and personal convictions, I also agree that too many chefs ruin the pot _(or whatever the colloquialism is),_ but I believe above all else that collaboration makes for the best design. The more ideas that get tossed around the better.

*I think this holds true for most things.*

When a site redesigns itself, often all that happens is new sidding gets thrown up and an additional bathroom gets added to the back. When the Gugenheim built the addition _(which makes the building look like a toilet),_ They made a huge hoopla about the event, but it really wasn’t all that impressive because it’s still the same building. Often designers will take a site offline to tell you that a new redesign is in store.

Basically all that happens is they loose audience by going offline. Your readers don’t care what you are doing behind the scenes, or if they do they wouldn’t trade a blank _”redesign comming soon”_ page for some stories about your grandpa and his two watches.*

*My grandpa wears two watches.

3 replies on “Web Design”

I've often wondered why people go completely offline while redesigning. The only thing I can generally attribute it to is not having a staged/phased environment where they can test things out. With the web, redesigns are a necessary evil. You eventually come up with new content you simply can't compensate for with the old design. I'm struggling with this right now while building out my blog(s) on MT.

Often designers will take a site offline to tell you that a new redesign is in store.

web design 101 – never take yourself off line to do a redesign! never tease a redesign to the users! never redesign for the sake of redesign!

i realize now that Zeldman was a poor example because his audience (developers) are interested in the process. most users are not interested.

i think the term re-design is the root of my problem. formal re-designs should be done off-line and include a formal coming out party upon completion. site evolution and improvements should happen in full view of the users (most will never even notice).

thanks for making me double process my own thoughts (forcing me to further define them)!

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