User Centered Re-Design

Guido Stevens | Mar 13, 2014 | design research · design
A website redesign can greatly benefit from combining User Centered Design with an analysis of the existing web site.

User Centered Design is a methodology Cosent uses to systematically involve end users in the design process. It improves the quality of our designs by maximizing our understanding of the intended users of systems, what their goals are and how the site we're building fits into their lives.

In a recent project, we found that this method is especially powerful when you're redesigning an existing web site. Users who have actually been using the old site develop strong judgments on what does, and especially what doesn't work for them.

You'd like to drop dead when you open this site.

Sentiments like these are very helpful when a client needs to be steered away from imposing bad design choices on a web site. You can show the client how that didn't work in the past.

Combining user centered design with an analysis of the old web site design highlighted some major problems: inconsistent navigation, too much navigation, too much graphics, noisy page layout. It's not that the previous designer did a bad job. When working on the design for the new site, we found that the design patterns of the old site were a "natural" consequence of the features requested by the site owner. We could've easily used those same patterns our new design.

Except, our user research told us forcefully we really needed a different approach.

As a result, we focused on simplifying the navigation and visual layout. We moved from a complex multi-level categorization to a simple category menu, augmented with free-style tags which are shown only in the content area, not in the navigation bar. We consolidated multiple web sites into a single consistent system. Instead of showing lots of small thumbnail images, we used varying image sizes to grab attention and structure the page. Finally, we used an accordeon in-page navigation to reduce visual clutter but at the same time enable web site visitors to quickly orient themselves in the site.

The result are these twin cultural agendas: UIT Sittard-Geleen and MaastrichtNet.

blog comments powered by Disqus