The word “ReDesign” (if that is, in fact, even a word) often conjures up images of accelerated heart rates, premature heart attacks, long nights, weeks, and months fueled by caffeine and even less savory substances… But the art and science of the redesign is a necessary evil. In fact, I would argue that it is not an evil at all. Certainly, the egos of a product’s original designers need to be transcended, and more often than not corporate entities need to be convinced over and again as to the need to improve their public faces and their attendant user interfaces. Yet the fact remains that times change, the Web never stands still, user interface conventions evolve, and the users themselves come to expect more with each passing day. These expectations range from the desire to drill down ever more efficiently to their desire content to simple aesthetics. Let’s face it: sites designed during the advent of the Web in the mid 1990’s wouldn’t merit a second look from today’s users. While it was good enough just to have a Web presence back then, the utter lack of polish exhibited in those days would not speak well of a modern corporate entity, and is likely to drive users to your competitors and their services rather than deeper into your own site.
Take the following by way of example. The image below represents the initial iteration of a Web site designed for a major New York City real estate brokerage, Prudential Douglas Elliman. Adequate, to be sure, clean in its design, and certainly not without merit.
And now take a look at their proposed redesign. Currently in public Beta, it is a fine example of evolution. And not just for its own sake… For the sake of the end user. Much of the same information is available up front on the home page, but presented much more cleanly. White space abounds, and the use of innovative widgets allowing prospective home buyers to drill down instantly to apartments in their desired price ranges and locations represents a quantum leap over the original design.
Bravo Elliman. Far too often the redesign process is enslaved to corporate ego, and the simple fact that far too often there are simply to many cooks in the kitchen. Let the pros do their work, benefit from their experience, and more often than not you’ll have an award winner on your hands.