Sunday, 1 March 2009

Web Design Assignment One

Assignment One – Development of School Intranet – Other section

The school intranet is rather old and impractical to use, a number of sites have not been updated in years, and it requires a staff member to manually change the pages with the new information. This information needs to be updated and made more user-friendly to both staff updating the sections and students viewing the information.

Have a look in the Other area of the intranet
In this area there are a number of student services that could do with new information being updated and only provided in the school. You as a class are to decide which ones need updating and you will need to sort out how you will go about this.

Have a look at what the site currently provides, show screen shots and comment about the look, feel and content, is it appropriate for students/staff?

  • Who uses these sites to find information?
  • Research what the department does, you will need to go and talk to someone.
  • What information should go on the pages?
  • Are these pages elsewhere on the Internet, is there a need for a separate site inside the school?
  • What links, content, video, pictures, if any should go on?
    You need to think about how the information will be updated in the future, who will update it?
  • What are the problems with the current site? - Why are you thinking about a redesign in the first place? Make sure you answer this question with fact rather than feeling based reasons. You may be tired of the look and feel of your website, but what do your customers think?
  • What do your customers say about your current site? - What feedback are you getting from your current customers? Your customers may not be professional web designers, but even a novice can point out a bad website. In order to get feedback, try taking some surveys or polls from your site visitors.
  • What is the purpose of this redesign? - Try to avoid vague objectives such as “the site needs to be updated” or “because we do it every year.” Is your goal to improve conversion rates? Reduce bounces rates? Increase search traffic? Ideally, your redesign goal should be inline with the overall purpose of your website. Be sure to set measurable goals that you can easily revisit after the launch.
  • Can these problems be fixed with optimization rather than a full redesign? - Just because your search engine rankings need improvement doesn’t mean you must redesign your site. Maybe it can simply be fixed for a fraction of the cost. It’s easy to over react to a problem and assume everything needs to be scrapped, when it can be optimized instead.
  • How will the redesign affect my search engine rankings? - Too often, SEO is an afterthought of a website redesign. While SEO is certainly not the only consideration when considering a website overhaul, there are many search related ramifications of a site redesign. Make sure you understand how these changes can impact your search traffic before you begin a project.
  • Have you considered the opportunity cost as well as the financial cost? - Depending on the complexity of your website, site redesigns can take a significant amount of time. During this development time, will the current site be neglected? In my experience, its very difficult to focus on maintaining and optimizing an old website at the same time you’re building a new one.
  • Will it be hard for my customers to relearn my new site? - Nobody loves change. Will customers be confused by the new layout? If the changes are drastic, expect the learning curve phenomenon. In other words, things may get worse before they get better.
  • How will I judge if the new website has succeeded? - This is perhaps the most important question of all. If it’s not asked and answered properly, you may get stuck in an endless cycle of website revisions, never reaching a goal because the goal wasn’t defined in the first place. Be sure to answer this question before you launch the new site. Are you prepared to switch back to the previous design if the site is a failure?


Website redesign needs to be addressed with caution. It's not one of those things that you can just jump into and expect everything to take care of itself. If you are going to follow through with a site redesign planning is a must. Prior to planning there are a series of questions that you should ask yourself. Hence the purpose of this post.7 Questions to Ask When Planning A Website RedesignWhile there are a number of questions that you need to address, here are a few "must ask" questions when planning out your site redesign.

  • Why do I need a redesign? It may seem simple enough, but what are threasons that you are even considering redesigning your site? Take a pen and piece of paper and write down five reasons as to why you need to redesign your site. If three or more of the reasons deal with usability, that might be a strong indication that a site redesign is probably a good idea.
  • What are my goals for the site? You would be surprised at the number of site owners who have difficulty in answering this question. What is the reason for your site's existence? Is it to provide information? Is it e-commerce based? Is to act as a portal to other websites? Prior to planning a website redesign, you'll want to establish clear goals for your site.
  • Do I have the proper resources needed to complete the site redesign? Depending on the type of site that you have and what the goals for your site are, a website redesign may require a great deal of time, money and resources to complete.
  • How much time will it take to complete a site redesign? Planning a proper website redesign takes time in itself. A site redesign is something that you do not want to rush. You must dot all of the "i's" and cross all of the "t's" if you want to have a successful redesign. If you are coming up to your peak sales season, you're probably not going to want to launch a new site that may confuse buyers. On the other hand , once you've completed your research and have factored in everything that needs to be addressed with your redesign, you will have a better idea of the ideal timing for the launch of your new site.
  • How will a site redesign affect my search engine rankings? Anytime you redesign your website, you run the risk of having your search engine rankings plummet. Improper use of redirects, failure to include content that is currently ranking over to the new site can have a dramatic impact on your search engine rankings. Not all companies have the sponsored budget to "buy" rankings in the search engines. Loss of organic rankings can be extremely difficult to get back. You should weigh the options of losing existing rankings through a new site redesign vs. keeping the same site and adding new features to it vs. creating a micro site to support your main site. Consider items such as site architecture, URL structure, page optimization, linking inventories and site interlinking. Drastic changes to any of these items will have an impact on your search engine rankings.
  • Ask yourself, what's good about your existing site? What areas need improvement? Many times, Webmasters and designers have it in their heads that their site needs to be flashy and needs to feature all of the latest web design trends. Well the fact of the matter is, these sites traditionally do poorly in the search engine rankings and more importantly do not provide the best user experience. How many times have you become frustrated with a flashy homepage that makes use of Flash with a large number of images that takes forever to load the page? After the page loads, you have no idea about how to find the information that you were looking for in the first place. Or the page just takes forever to load.... Your old site may have had perfectly good navigation and now the user cannot even find a link to your sitemap. Prior to planning your redeign, jot down the positive points about your site and identify the areas that need improvement.
  • How will my visitors react to a new site? This is probably one of the most important questions that you can ask prior to planning a website redesign. Website usability should be one of the key areas of focus as you plan your redesign. Take the time to find out what your audience appreciate about the existing site. Ask them what their experience was like. Leading up to your website redesign, provide a feedback mechanism to allow your site users to comment about their site experience. Test your proposed site and test again. Planing your site redesign right the first time will save you from having to do another one in a matter on months. You site should be designed for a strong user experience that will help you achieve the goals that you have set out for your site.

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