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Rational Redesigns: Avoiding Buzzword McFrankensite

Rational Redesigns grow from the roots of rational requirements. In this post, the third in a series about Rational Redesigns (see Part 1 and Part 2 here), we will review some common mistakes to avoid when establishing requirements for a website redesign project.

Focus on What and Why, but not How

As a client it is most important to provide an understanding of the problem to be solved and why it needs to be solved. If the client were responsible for prescribing how the problem should be solved, then a development team wouldn't be needed for the project.

Clients often assume they can make a project more efficient by searching for modules on drupal.org and providing a feature requirement in the form of a link. But a requirement of "Install http://drupal.org/project/custom_search," for example, has the potential to create more harm than good on a project. The "requirement" lacks an explanation of what problems the custom search module is intended to solve. Perhaps other search-related modules could have solved the problem more efficiently? A Drupal developer who has implemented dozens of site searches and has a clear picture of what the client is trying to solve for (and ideally why) will serve as the best judge of the specific module to implement.

"Like" is not a requirement

  • Site search like Google
  • Social features like Facebook
  • Document management like Sharepoint

All too often, bullet points like the three above get passed off as "requirements" in a site redesign project. It's not likely, however, that the client carries the combined engineering budgets of Google, Facebook and Microsoft to pull off such an initiative.

"Like" equals "Lazy" when setting requirements. Spend some time defining exactly what parts of a search "like Google" should be incorporated, and why.

Check your ego at the door

Navbars and section fronts are all about ego. Often the majority of a site's traffic will arrive at some interior page via a Google search. Users will not be dutifully clicking through prescribed navigation paths to visit home pages, then section fronts, then sub-topic pages, then content pages no matter how fancy the section names are and how pretty the flowcharts look. Avoid the common trap of assuming that everyone in the world will understand the cute synonyms that were dreamt up for the sections of the site. Go read this book and then call things what they are when setting up site navigation http://www.sensible.com/dmmt.html.

Don't keep up with the Joneses

Just because everyone else has a rotating slideshow on their homepage, it doesn't mean this site needs one too. Ignore fads and focus on the best method to prioritize and present the important parts of the business on the site in an appropriate manner.

The Oatmeal is watching

One failsafe way to keep requirements rational: pretend The Oatmeal is sitting in the corner of the room for every meeting, transcribing things like a court reporter. Keep this in mind when working on design and feature definition. When a redesign project turns irrational, it becomes a potential character for the next comic strip: Buzzword McFrankensite.

Additional Resources

New eBook: Creating an SEO Keyword Strategy

4 Analytics Metrics that Indicate it is Time for a Website Redesign

Marketing Automaiton and Drupal 

 

 

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Meet team member, Jeff Diecks

A veteran of the web publishing and sports media industries, Jeff draws on his extensive project management, business analysis, and site building experience to lead professional services and client delivery...

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