Website redesign pitfalls

we watched Eddie Izzard youtube lego star wars death star canteen while waiting, warning there are swear words in the video if that sort of thing offends you

Redesign the pitfalls and perils and how to avoid them

Good reason to redesign

  • When nav is dysfunctional
  • When your site doesn’t scale
  • When your site is difficult to update
  • When you code is helplessly sick
  • When your site has poor usability
  • When its not performing based on you objectives / goals

Redevelop vs redesign

Redevelop = triple bypass

Redesign = cosmetic surgery

If its not broke don’t fix it, if users are finding their way around, consider just cosmetic update – example

Quiet death of major relaunch – users don’t like redesign

Facebook ainti redesign group has 1.7 million members


Beware the vocal majority

Be evidence based

Five stages of user grief

  • Denial – why did you change it?
  • Anger – you have made the site useless, I’ll never use it again
  • Bargaining – if you would just go back to the old version of a certain portion, it would be great
  • Depression – I have no idea what I’m going to do now
  • Acceptance – I dislike the new design but I was able to find what I’m looking for

Do we really need to redesign

Maintenance = boring, redesign = exciting

At launch you will be really happy and become less happy over time

At launch the user will be unhappy and become more happy over time


– failing to account for assessment time and effort

Spend your money where the water is – know where your water is,

Look at where people are going int eh site, where they are not going, what pages they enter into, what pages they leave from – google analytics, clicky

review past usability studies

if its been a while do one now

tip – find and document your current page rank

do not want to loose page rank as the result of a redesign

tips on generating buy-in

– show manager or director other sites, what other libraries are doing

– show him or her data indicating that redesign

trying to reach too much consensus or death by committee, avoid committee if at all possible, if you must have a committee make it as small as possible

define constituencies and include them in the process

librarians are users but they are also experts, do not design your website for library staff, design it for your users

planning thinking outside the box

is a traditional page based model what you want? consider – cms,  blog,  wiki

don’t spend too much time designing – its all be done before

Seth Godin – “I’m going to out on a limb and beg you not to create an original design. There are more than a million pages on the web. Surely there’s one you can start with.”

Users expectations are not formed by library websites. You should not be looking to other libraries for examples of what users expect

Goals – specific and measurable

Increase google page rank

Show x percentage improvement in usability

Decrease time for adding new content

Pitfall – failing to communicate

  • be open and transparent
  • redesign blog or wiki to keep public and colleagues aware of what’s happening, helps manage users expectations

cook library web site redesign blog


Pitfalls – communicating too much,

  • redesign by committee is not pretty
  • look to evidence to short circuit tedious discussions

pitfall – not providing users a clear path

define the primary functions of your site and make sure those paths are clear

Queens Library example – good example of prime goal being connecting people with their tasks

Pitfall – don’t reinvent the wheel – from javascripts to CSS chances are its already been done

Spend money & time on

1 .Remarkable content – you have a staff full of experts – use them to create content,

remarkable content is well written content, not cut and paste! Invest time in creating content specifically for the web

2. remarkable tools – next gen opac, federate search, engagement tools, user interaction options


redesign for search engine optimization

– simple urls are better

– descriptive unique titles for every single page

– proper and consistent use of structural html

– descriptive alt tags

after you’re done submit a new sitemap to google

ask google to remove outdated/removed content from their cache

redesigning with social media content in mind

social bookmarks

tag your pages

don’t move or eliminate good content – don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

update robots.txt file

update analytics definitions

pitfall – plan beyond the redesign

– content strategy

– maintenance strategy

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