Tuesday, October 24, 2006

bottom-up site redesign

One of the highlights of my first day at Internet Librarian (il2006) was the session "Bottom-Up Web Redesign" kicked off by Jeff Wisnewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh. Jeff started off his presentation by saying something like:

Typical, typical...
Current Site + Committee + New Colors + Usability Testing = GREAT NEW SITE!!!

Sound familiar? I was very pleased, then, with our recent progress at WebJunction towards engaging our users, members and partners with our current site refresh project. In short, many hundreds of readers are following along with us as my colleagues and I blog about the process, hundreds of interested folks actually helped us reorganize the site through a virtual card sort, and a smaller number of them have commented on the contents of our homepage and secondary pages and site map. And, we've been able to do it all virtually.

As I listened to Jeff and his co-presenters run through the guiding principles of user-driven redesign, and to their selected tools for managing such a process, I actually felt quite proud of what we're doing in our online community - maybe it's even a model of sorts. So, I'm giving myself and everyone at WJ (all 22,000 of us, card-sorters or not) a moment of pause so we can pat ourselves on the back. I think we're doing a cool, maybe even radical thing here. Thanks to everyone who has participated with us - and when you're ready to put your library's website to the task of a redesign - consider engaging your users at the design & info-architecture phases - at the beginning and throughout your process. Although we're not quite finished yet, it's looking like we're all going to benefit from the wisdom of this crowd. And I'd love it if we could collect some more stories along these lines.

Oh, and one other tidbit from Jeff's presentation: the single most important factor for users in your site's credibility? Look and feel - by a long shot. Organization, usefulness, and even accuracy are all in there, but site design should not be skimped upon. Makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, we do it, so why wouldn't they?


K.G. Schneider said...

In our 2005 usability testing, a key finding was that the subjects felt good about the new design. The site had some issues (some addressed then, some later, some pending), but how people *feel* about a website is nontrivial. Good luck with the WJ up-design!

Anonymous said...

"Our" meaning "MPOW" meaning lii.org, that is ;) -- kgs

Craig Horizon said...

Yes, it is always good to have useful look and feel to any websites site design. That will make the your users want to return and that will increase your sites credibility overtime.