Does your website have an identity problem?
Is it hard to tell who your site represents and what it is?
Is there is a disconnect between the cool things people are doing on the site and what folks see when they land on the front page?
Then your site needs a narrative (visual, text, structure) to guide users to the part that resonates with them.
In some ways good design is like good teaching, you facilitate an
experience for the user. I’ve found that by defining clear goals and
measurable objectives and then creating a context ( words, picture,
icons, etc. ) for users to explore, they gain understanding and
ultimately discover something useful. I’ve used this approach with
effective results in face-to-face teaching, in educational game
design, in e-learning, in website and multimedia design.
What makes communities thrive? I’ve found it’s a combination of the
authenticity (street cred) and passion of the organizers and their
ability to tap into what the audience has longed for ….along with
something that provides the users with a sense of belonging.
Builder communities in particular are tricky to maintain, the key is to find a
balance between keeping it real, (edgy, open, free, creative, with
high functionality) and making it easy and appealing. Finding the
balance between typical opensource (known for lack of interface
design) and Apple style (based on a tyranny but with amazing
interfaces) is tricky but certainly achievable if the designer can
articulate and tap into its own core.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing” (a mantra taught to me by Jamie Dinkelacker) is key to effective design. If goals are clear, then each user can find his/her own
We did this when creating wiki-based sites with scholars around
the world working with students to study the works of Douglas
Engelbart. The results were astounding. The critical thinking skills
of our students skyrocketed and hundreds of pages were generated,
serious dialog and professional projects created and friendships
forged, Here is a sample of one student project:
We used a similar approach in creating the Engelbart Timeline Mural
where we engaged over 100 people (including receptionists, CEO Tim
O’Reilly, and Google evangelist Vint Cerf) to actively participate and
share data, critique our work.
My approach to redesign of a website requires the active participation
of the stakeholders. My gift is in helping teams find their voice and
express it with clarity and creativity.
In redesigning a large and poorly organized website– the task is usually to help the team of
core stakeholders focus on “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”
In the collective mind a vision is buzzing around, the trick is to articulate
the vision so it is easily shared and implemented. Then the design
reveals itself–elegantly and almost effortlessly.
I facilitate processes that help:
Define who are the stakeholders
Guide them to define clear and measurable goals and objectives for the site
Define primary and secondary target audiences
Articulate what the team wants those users to know and do
Keep team focused on “keeping the main thing, the main thing.”
Tasks of the designer:
- Facilitate the creation of clear goals and objectives – what do you want users to: see, hear, know, feel, or behave
- Articulate the story – who, what, where, and most importantly why
- Define the look and feel
- Create sitemap and navigation
- Create a wireframe for key pages
- Create naming convention that reflects the new paradigm
- Define work flow processes where necessary
- Test – conduct user testing with five members of the target audience as well as staff
- Refine the design based on user testing
- Present the resulting design to the team and the students implementing it.