Web redesign: Why bother?

By Matt Cornock

Starting a website redesign project before establishing clear goals and objectives, is a bit like driving a 1987 Ford Fiesta through a mountain range with iffy brakes and no steering wheel. The road will be bumpy and before long you’ll have a sore head and be rusting in the forecourt of a Little Chef. If you can’t confidently answer ‘Why bother?’ then a web redesign is probably only the tip of your problems my friend.

I was recently reading an article on A List Apart (essential web developer reading): Taking the Guesswork Out of Design by user-centric Daniel Ritzenthaler. Here he details that setting clear project goals is defining “the means, the reason and the ends.” I.e. What do you want to do? Why do you want to do it? What do you expect as your outcomes? In the article, there are a couple of examples. One of the major points is to make sure any goals aren’t fluff, but have a purposeful meaning.

To help you shape your goals further, business types and teaching ones alike both use the SMART objective writing method (arbitrary reference site). SMART stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Objectives are more specific than broad project goals, but considering each of these five criteria will certainly help shape a purposeful definition of a project.

What’s the point in goals anyway? I’m no footballer.

Without setting clear goals, a project has no direction, it’s got no steering. The project could fly off on a tangent, potentially either rollercoasting away up the wrong path or juddering to a stand-still when motivation dries up. Setting goals is a way of getting people on board too. If a person sees a project working towards an outcome relevant to them, they’ll naturally be more inclined to participate actively than if there are only incidental outcomes. Having the reasons behind setting a particular goal will also avoid the tangential routes, and if needed, guide objective juggling (that’s not critical analysis of a circus act, it’s where priorities get applied to objectives in the project). 

Most importantly though, whether it’s business, teaching or personal, objectives allow us to relfect and evaluate both during the project and after it. Project progress and success can be judged against the original project plan objectives (objectives as ‘sub-goals’), keeping things on track and providing a check to help further development.

Can you answer ‘Why bother?’

If you can’t justify a web redesign, then there’s other underlying problems. The web is often only one part of a marketing puzzle, make sure there are other pieces around it too. Tying a redesign to a wider plan gives it purpose and even if it’s just a personal website, having a reason to do something tends to make it happen a lot more efficiently.


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