3 Lessons from Bad Design

"Bad sex has three main lessons. Recognize it when you see it. Let go of the bad. And welcome the great." Chelsea Summers

Like bad sex, bad design has three main lessons.

  • Bad design needs to be recognized when we see it.
  • After recognizing it - let it go.
  • Then celebrate great design!

Recognize bad design

I'm working on a website that has gone through five iterations of design in this build. Shoehorning the site into an existing themes and tweaking didn't work. My question to myself is "How did it get this far?". 

Pretty simple as these things usually are. I took shortcuts. Instead of starting at the beginning of a good design process, I jumped in. It was an existing site. A site which I built early in my career in fact that has weathered the vagaries of design for 10 years. Simple. Classic. It served well. The site was even mildly responsive for its time.

So if it was so good why change it.

Two reasons. Both technical. It has always bothered the owner that he couldn't make changes easily. He had to rely on me. And for that Drupal was the answer. The second reason is that this site was one of three that I built on a Dreamweaver template. So when I blew Windows away a year ago Dreamweaver went out with Windows. The site became difficult if not impossible to maintain.

From those technical reasons, I made a bad assumption - that the business and its marketing hadn't changed. That the fundamentals that led to the first site hadn't changed.

They had.

Let go of bad design

So yesterday I razed the site to the ground. Left the content in but that is going to get organized. And once we get that organized we will create new site requirements. Shed a tear - not so much at the wonderful pictures and the curious functionalities - but at the wasted time and energy.

Before we begin to build we will be clear on what the business does. What we are marketing. And how we are going to market it. Social media has had a huge impact. Responsive sites are required due to heavy cell and tablet use. Technical requirements are easy.

Nailing a goal or purpose is much more difficult. A website is just a tool. And like any tool we need to be clear on what it does or needs to do. Getting the purpose clear will help us know when we have accomplished what needs to be done with the site.

Welcome the great

Elegance is a high ideal. Simple. Classic. Effective. Though the site isn't finished, I know that it will meet its requirements. Building the site will follow a process of clear requirements, in depth reviews on the drafts. In the end it will be a tool that does its job well.

We will celebrate a great site.