Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More

Mon

9

APR

2001

Design and Redesign Disasters

Jean Kaiser, About.com’s guide to Web Design, wrote a new article this past week about her experiences with a former client who had another designer supposedly "redesign" their site. Death of a Web Site, Redesign regrets and how to avoid them had my stomach turning knots the entire time as I read her story. Unfortunately there are so many people out there claiming to be web designers who really don’t know what they’re doing and at least as many who believe them. And by the way, one of my colleagues just took on a project to fix a site that had been built by a design company for $200,000. It was not at all search engine or user friendly, so a high price tag doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best results, either.

A good friend recently had his site redesigned, and he wrote me a note asking me what I thought. When I visited the site I absolutely cringed, but I continued looking, trying to find the positive attributes to the site. Unfortunately, though, most of the main page is graphics, even the first several paragraphs of text describing what the site is about. The navigation links are all JavaScript code that the search engines can’t read, thus disabling his site from being indexed beyond the main page, and there are also no meta tags to be found or any other search engine optimization.

With almost no text content on his main page combined with the JavaScript navigation, the search engines have no text to index and no links to follow into his site. And there aren’t any meta tags for search engines to use, either. There goes search engine rankings as well as placement anywhere. While there are some nice lines to parts of the design, it’s unfortunately ruined by the fuzzy, low graphics quality. My heart aches for him.

Whether you’re someone looking for a designer or a designer thinking about good points to discuss with potential clients regarding a redesign of their site, check out Jean Kaiser’s article. She has a great checklist of tips to consider with a redesign for both the designer and the site owner. She brings up some important issues about what to look for, what to ask, and what to discuss when talking with a potential client or designer.

In addition, I have a few suggestions:

  • Above all, make sure the designer can build a site that suits your needs.
  • Make sure you learn enough to ask good questions that will enable you to hire a qualified, experienced designer.
  • Thoroughly check out a potential designer’s work:
    1. Make sure he/she/they have good experience (I suggest a minimum of 2 years in business, preferably more).
    2. Be certain that they build search engine friendly sites (and know the details of what makes that happen).
    3. Review at least 3 or 4 of their clients' sites, looking through at least several pages of each one to check for navigation, load time, overall quality of design and layout, and general feel and appropriateness of the design for its content.
    4. See that their own site is in good shape, too.
  • Check out references.

If all that looks good, then you have a better chance of getting positive results.

If you’re a designer, consider what you would look for in hiring someone to work for you or if you’d hire someone to build a site for you. You’d want to see:

  • work examples,
  • an employment history,
  • the extent of his/her experience,
  • how reliable he/she is,
  • the person’s personality and how he/she is getting along with others,
  • and more.

All those things need to come across as much as possible within your Web site as well as on the phone, in email, or an in-person meeting. Potential clients need to see reasons why they should consider hiring you. What makes you stand out from the rest? Bring out those special points.

[Side note: If you happened to notice that Jean Kaiser and I share the same last name, we’re checking to see if we might be related at all. So far it looks like if we are that it would be quite distant, but you just never know! It’s fun to explore family trees.]

05:01 pm, pdt 9 April, 2001 Comments, Trackbacks ·

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Deliver First Class Web Sites: 101 Essential Checklists  Via amazon.com: Deliver First Class Web Sites: 101 Essential Checklists, by Shirley Kaiser. SitePoint Books (July 2006). 

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Recommended Books

 More Eric Meyer on CSS, by Eric Meyer. Published by New Riders, 2004. 

Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way Using HTML & CSS, by Ian Lloyd. SitePoint (May 2, 2006) 

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