Friday, April 07, 2006

Web ReDesign 2.0 : Workflow That Works

Since the mid-1990s people with an inkling of computer skill and an Internet connection have hung out a shingle to ply their trade as a web designer. Then, they face all of the same problems: they made sites that only work on some browsers; clients changed their minds; they couldn’t keep the latter part of the business relationship intact. Somebody needed to write about about the web design business: not the technology but the act of keeping all of the balls in the air. “Web ReDesign 2.0 : Workflow That Works” is just that sort of a book. Websites today can be upwards of 8 years old: tired, pallid designs in need of a redesign. Arguably, there is so much redesign work out there that it forms the majority of what web designers are doing these days. This book goes through all of the phases of web development: project definition; analyzing your competition; site structure; building and integration; usability; launch. Along the way, this book covers how to survey clients, would be users and the competition. Techniques that novice designers do not clue into (like wireframes) are fully laid out. It talks about “red flag” clients (we’ve all had them). The search engine optimization section rivals some entire books on the subject. While this book is written from people with experience working on Fortune 500 websites, it can be applied to designers from all echelons, whether they’re designing a site for the local florist; or working for a million dollar company.

Several test cases display the before and after of site design. The differences are striking. Better than that, how redesign was driven is outlined in nine case studies ranging from About.com to Banana Republic. The excellent and insightful text is accompanied by full color examples of web design.

There are some seminal works in the IT field (Accidental Empires, Cathedral and the Bazaar). Web ReDesign 2.0 : Workflow That Works needs to be added to that list. If anyone tugs on my sleeve and says, “I want to be a web designer” I will thrust a copy of this book into their hands and tell them to learn it and live it.

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