The word ‘re-design’

Recently, I have been looking into visual communication and the role of hierarchy in screen layouts. This stemmed from hearing the word ‘re-design’ far too much over the past few months.


I found myself saying – what actually is a re-design?

Coming from a UX background, ‘re-design’ would relate to an element on a site which has been underperforming and needs looking at in-depth. By this I mean understand the analytics, carry out customer-focused research and collaborate with the wider team to work towards the desired goal.

I was struck by how wrong I was in this situation. In fact, for many organisations, a ‘re-design’ means to start from scratch (yes, really!) – new navigation structure, page layouts, typography, and colour palette.


I couldn’t help but think why?

  • Why redesign the whole website when you have no evidence to back anything up? How do you know what you’re designing?
  • Why create extra work, set unrealistic deadlines and potentially lose customers?
  • Why redesign something just because you feel like it, it will waste so much time and money?

I have so many questions, all starting with, why? I could guarantee that none of the questions above could be backed up with evidence.

[ Blank Stare ].

If you find yourself in a similar situation be sure to ask agnate questions about the reasons behind such a rational decision.




How would I deal with a ‘re-design’ brief?

Well, to be honest, I would potentially walk away from the project unless I could shadow users for 2 weeks. I would try to analyse what is actually happening and determine what is the real underlying cause of the problem?

From there I would take a UX focused approach:

  1. Define the Problem(s)
  2. Background Research
  3. Brainstorm, evaluate and choose a solution
  4. Prototype the solution (low fidelity)
  5. Specify requirements (based on the research found from testing the prototype)
  6. Develop/prototype the solutions
  7. Test (Does it meet the requirements?)
  8. Build and test the solution


If you have got this far, you’re probably thinking ‘thank the lord, I’m not going crazy‘. Below I have a great example of how you can follow trends and work on your website without starting from scratch. have shown years of consistency without making radical changes.



Each iteration displayed (over 17 years) has the same site structure; a navigation, main promo image, 4 secondary promos and a footer navigation but the visual style has followed the brand development.


In Conclusion

If (I hope never) you are given a brief that is to ‘re-design’ the whole website, please ask the most important question:

“What evidence do you have that these requirements will solve the problems?”

[ Blank Stare]


There is no need to re-design a full website, so much will be missed and the website will make no progression – ok, it might look better but the UI without key features is pointless. Take a moment to do some background research and define the problem(s) – work into these first and see how your metrics change. The resource is always limited at the best of times, this will save the organization time, money and stress.

If in doubt, show the example of above. Their site structure isn’t broke, so why fix it?


Let me know how you handled the brief, I would love to hear the approach you took.


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