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Apr 30, 2008: The Redesign Must Die talk

Just on my way home from an enjoyable visit to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Tim Offenstein and friends put on a great event. Sick (again; WTF?), exhausted, but happy. And happy to report that I should have a new book to go on sale later this week.

But enough of that; here are the slides. Much better with animation, but I had to upload a PDF, as the PPT was too large for SlideShare. Email me if you want the full 59Mb PPT. And thanks to everyone who made suggestions; it was a fun keynote to give (and hopefully to sit through):

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Comment: Joy (Apr 30, 2008)


Great presentation! I didn't get the chance to talk to you during lunch (was even at your table), but just wondering your thoughts about this: If a website is *incredibly* bad (e.g. distracting graphics, pages contain a list of links with no or very little useful content), would you still think that a redesign "must die"?

Cosmetic fixes may not serve much purpose other than, perhaps, attracting more visitors (maybe those who think: "oooh...shiney..."). But even then, those changes should be made gradually so as not to shock existing visitors (according to many folks).

However, if a website is terribly outdated altogether, where a total redesign versus "fine tuning" is about 50/50 as far as overall improvement of the site, do you feel strongly towards one over the other?

If not, then how do you gauge when a site is in a bad enough shape that justifies a complete redesign? If you do feel stronger for one, which of the two and why?


Comment: John (May 5, 2008)

Upon reflection I think the only part I can take issue with is the part about design:

I get the point about lipstick-on-a-pig, but I think this overlooks the impact good information and visual design can have on a page or content.

I would argue good design *is* a platform, and should have all the attributes of one.

Maybe not the platform you should work on building first though.

Comment: Gilbert Lee (May 5, 2008)

Hi Lou,

I would love to get the PPT of your presentation. Could you send it to this email address? Thanks!


Comment: DS (May 6, 2008)

I also would like to read the full ppt. Can I get a zipped copy?

Comment: Nathan Peretic (May 6, 2008)


I'd like to see the PPT / full PDF version. No chance of audio, is there?



Comment: Barney (May 8, 2008)

Louis, this is great but a lot of the crucial detail escapes the scale of that embed. Could you email me the PDF, please?

I've been a victim of this before. Contracts we thought would be information architecture jobs, that it later turns out the client thought was just a question of slapping some paint on the template(s). Of course, when we tried to salvage the contract and just redesign the visual aspect only, they were completely unsatisfied that their site was still such an unusable mess. Lost the client as well as loads of man-hours. Horrible experience.

Comment: Fredric (May 8, 2008)

Your presentation would easily fit into the very same domain beeing inside a corporate setting, such as the intranet ;-) I truely like your stuff

A fellow researcher who introduced a more pragmatic view to IT & Change, coint the term "Technology Drifting"

Organising large web sites or complex intranets is an organism in it self....a moving target

Comment: Lou Rosenfeld (May 9, 2008)

Folks, thanks for all the comments.

Yes, sometimes a site needs to be torn down and rebuilt. But even in those cases, there is still a great need to prioritize what's there that good and worth keeping (and when to migrate it to the new site). That sort of prioritization process is really no different than what I'm proposing we do for viable sites. The key here is the word *process*: ongoing, constant. The process that might precede or coincide with a tear-down should continue as the site is redesigned (ugh) and rebuilt.

I hope that makes sense! It's late and I need sleep...

Comment: Avi Rappoport (May 9, 2008)

I think there are exceptions to the rule, including my site. It grew out of its original architecture and I've brainstormed with some colleagues to find a much better structure.

I also want to rely less on tables and more on CSS for formatting, and to make the graphic aspects a bit nicer than my original amateur attempt.

Content stays, though it might be cleaned up a little. Why would I throw away all that work?

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