This last week I was invited to speak at the CASE V conference about Iterative Website Redesign. I was honored to give insights in to our Web process.
What is iterative Web redesign?
Taking small deliberate steps to reach a larger goal
(which may be not 100% apparent at the time).
How does this apply to Wayne State?
Over the past 6 years we have been working on making the entire Web experience better. The way we do that isn’t by putting a lot of resources in to a new design every two years then sit and wait, but instead iterate what we have over time.
The motivation behind iterative design is to focus on craftsmanship. By focusing on just one section of a page we can let our designers design, writers write and developers program. Typically they would have to juggle multiple competing aspects of a page at one time. This bigger picture is great but it thins out the amount of time they have to focus on making each area as optimized as possible.
Your website doesn’t suck
We hear a lot of people around campus coming to us looking for a redesign because “their website sucks”. There are some instances when a full redesign is necessary, but more often their website doesn’t suck, a few areas just need improvement.
The talk focuses on “micro ideas”, these are the existing goals for each area of your site. Every site already has them, why not take advantage and improve their performance. I give a few examples from other institutions and even outside higher education that show this strive for constant improvement while keeping existing goals. One of my favorite is the 37 signals homepage evolution video.
This process is never ending, websites are not “projects”, projects have end dates. Creating an effective feedback loop is important to making the right changes. Making sure the feedback is from actual users, that feedback can be subjective and the solution you come up with might not work for everyone, the goal is to focus on the majority.
Lastly, everything needs to be documented, not only so history doesn’t repeat itself but more importantly to show insights behind decisions and build credibility. The improvements you make to your site aren’t going to make you famous, they won’t result in a nationwide press release, but often are more important to the success of your website than any redesign would be.
Iterative Website Redesign: Micro Goals in Action
Dream big, think small.
Do you employ iterative redesign techniques? If so, I would love to hear about them.