Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign

by Cameron Moll

41 Reader Comments

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  1. I am a general reader of your articles but this one misses the mark by a mile in my honest opinion.

    It is in a designers nature to both evolve and to change tastes about their own website. I feel by this article, it is mutually exclusive groups and following the logic I should still be redesigning my oh-so-lovely first ever website(an AngelFire one *snicker snicker)

    My skills as do most evolve all the time, there are no_perfect_ designers out there, all good designers but none that are no perfect. Everyone’s evolve. Once my skills evolve I can rip apart my last design: the colour, the spacing, the logo, the layout, the typography and so on. Once I (please save me from yet another buzzword) realign, i’ve basically redesigned.

    I do however feel that there should be some branding unanimity in the deign true, but I don’t feel that you should criticise designers for wanting a redesign.

    As said, you made this seem exclusive and when it comes to designers, a redesign is much needed for attracting clients. Both as a fresh design and a showcase of new skills. I think you should have maybe clarified that up if you do beleive them to be simple.

    Realigning seems like patching(no not that other new buzzword ). We all know what happens when something gets fixed and fixed and fixed and fixed and fixed, it breaks or it ends up looking like a mess (Damn, how I should have thought up a cooking metaphor).

    Realigning can only fix so much of the dislike or feel for change of a site.
    As I said and strongly beleive: It’s in our nature as designers to want to redesign and thats the best remedy for the want.

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  2. It is a combination of TypoGraPhics, alignment and beautful imagery. A redesign may never needed to occur for the coming 10 years.

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  3. “Purpose-driven” is a the key phrase in your article.

    All marketing needs goals. Without well-stated, measurable goals, we argue about whether marketing is “good,” when “good” is not the point; marketing is meant to be “useful.” To perform one or more specific, business tasks. “Good” is an adjective that should be reserved for how we feel about the quality of films, music and bean-dip.

    So… changes made to the creative of a Web site, brochure, etc. should always be purpose-driven. If those purposes related to the design; great. Sometimes design needs change based on real design issues. Tastes change. Headlines, messages, images, spokespeople, characters and gags go stale. I don’t accept the premise that a redesign in-and-of-itself is purposeless. There are good reasons, good purposes, for redesign. But they need to be clearly stated and understood; they need to be set as goals.

    Now… if you are working at an agency, your goal may be to milk your client for a few (hundred) grand in redesign costs. And to do that, you may need to yakkity-yak about various redesign needs that aren’t really real. But that’s a quibble over whose goals you’re managing to, isn’t it?

    In the 1940’s and 50’s, the concept of “planned obsolescence” first came into effect. Most people think that this means purposefully making shoddy products that will fall apart, necessitating a re-purchase. That’s only half the scheme. The other half is the propogation of the ideas of “fashion,” “style” and “newness” in merchandising and design. If you can get somebody to throw out a product (or a design scheme…) that’s still perfectly functional, based solely on the fact that it’s “so yesterday,” you’ve got yourself a market for a whole new spring line… and then a summer line… and then… and then…

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  4. I enjoyed reading this article. The funny thing for me is that, as I was reading, I realized that this is exactly what I just did. Two days ago, I finished working on a site for a client. The layout wasn’t drastically different; those used to visiting the site in the past wouldn’t have to learn a whole new navigation system; the changes were made to gear things toward a slightly different audience; the site was designed to be more useful to those visiting.

    And as I was designing the site, I was thinking about these issues and there was a part of me that I had to resist, a part that wanted to completely change the layout, color scheme, navigation. This is a good reminder to feel comfortable in making significant changes to a site that are not necessarily shocking. Folks will notice that things are different if the site has been altered to make the experience more rewarding.

    While it may be in the nature of designers to want to redesign (redesign for the sake of redesign? not sure I agree with you, Zach), sites should be created for the user, not the designer. While a desire may exist to move navigation from the left sidebar to a horizontal position at the top of the page, consideration must be given to why that design change would take place. Is it to make things easier for the visitors or just to satisfy some itch or to allow for more room in the sidebar or some other reason? If changes are being made, they should be made for a reason. If it’s just a change based on a whim, don’t do it.

    I think this idea of realigning is the same thing as redesigning a site, but the term redesign implies a total overhaul; it’s a matter of connotation vs. denotation. I don’t consider changing the color of links a redesign.

    I think this article was right on the mark, actually. Redesign sounds far more grand than changing from Arial to Verdana. Realign means that you changed to Verdana in order to achieve something to make your site better for those using it.

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  5. Websites design should slowly evolve while they grow. However you get to a point where the content is too much and you need to radically re-think the navigation. Testing and prototyping often gets overlooked due to budget and time constraints”¦ unless you work for real good company.

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  6. I love this articule its like the explanation to why web designers need to think like communications designers. Relying on the brief system, ( which for all intents and purposes is exactly the way a realigner would think: Problem, solution, audience, market change, and means. ) A do think a realigner and a redesigner can merge though sometimes for the best but in all intents and purposes. A good realignment keeps a brand intact and makes the layout more intuitive.

    For the past 4 years I studied Communications Design at Syracuse University, where we relied on the Brief. And I definitely think webdesign is the one of the more recent mediums to gradually become more strategic. Synapse has been the key for years, quick response, blinking crap. pop-ups. Major brands that care so little about their web presence they dont actually realize it does harm to their viewer’s opinions of said brands.  I graduated last May and always I turned away from web design as a practice because most clients kept pushing for just a redesign. I think the idea is out there now to push to the next level of web design and convince future client’s for more strategic solutions, its a tough sell and alot of clients for web especially may not have the budget for a solidified research and marketing phase of their said project but like you have shown the said project may mean not to reinvent the wheel.

    Ps I think the march of dimes site is a great example of this. so are newspaper and magazine websites. check those out as well they change gradually to their audience and market. But I will say most websites that get into this habit tend to get dull, so their is always a balance to it all. How many times will an average person look at cnn.com’s if the said website doesn’t get redesigned. It’s a great question to ask, I find everyone gets bored at some point and that being said the risk to screwing up a site that large and losing the said viewer because they got turned off by the new layout or typographic changes are that much greater.

    Sincerely,
    Joseph Maguire

    Just some thoughts I’d share.

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  7. Your view of iLife really opened my eyes to subtlety of design. I knew the packaging changed, but not enough to warrant a new campaign (like when apple switched from their rainbow colored apple to the solid color one). yet it really does evoke a paradigm shift for the consumer.

    Here’s a great link to another site dedicated to design realignment. I thought you might find it interesting.

    Keep up the articles!

    Todd

    http://weblogs.media.mit.edu/SIMPLICITY/archives/000210.html#law

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  8. Thank you for this article. I found it informative and thought-provoking.

    I think the point that Cameron is trying to make with this argument is not that realigning and redesigning are mutually-exclusive. It is more of a reasoning why one would redesign. I see it this way:

    Redesign: We’ve had our site for three years now and I see alot of our competitors completely change their site lately. Let’s do the same.

    Realign: Our unique visits and on-line sales have steadily declined over the last two years when the market trends suggest more on-line purchases from our customer base. Let’s look at our analytics and survey some of our clients. Then we can talk about how to proceed.

    I understood redesigning to mean an emotional reason to act as opposed to realigning which is an analytical one. Given that “redesign” is used in some many aspects of the creative industries, maybe another term could be used.

    I also feel that Cameron’s examples were very effective demonstrations of his point but seemed to be focused primarily on websites. With the dramatic increase of e-mail as a viable marketing tool, I would like to see his realigning techniques applied to e-mail design.

    Great article. Thanks.

    http://spectorbrain.com/2006/05/05/great-designers-are-great-realigners/

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  9. I like this topic, really.

    Intresting and make some sense. But like Leo Pitt said, if talk about “Re-Develope” a little, will be better.

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  10. But I worry persistent redesigning with little cause often serves to promote only proprietary creativity, doing much to educate one in the hows of redesigning but little in the whys of realigning

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  11. Very good tips for designing… [Especially for redesigning]

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