Recently, my work team was lucky enough to participate in a virtual user experience workshop (User experience, or, as it’s more commonly known, ‘UX’, is a term commonly used to encompass planning and designing for interactive properties. Official definition here.). We saw several presentations from well-known designers, developers and content strategists like Karen McGrane, Luke Wroblewski and Jared Spool. They all talked about different ways to help improve the experience of users on your website or application.
Layon, a former architect, draws a lot of interesting comparisons between designing for the web and designing actual buildings. He perfectly articulates a common frustration web designers face:
“Among other factors, the allure of creating something new is what drives many of us into the field of web design. Images, text, and code: the thrill of an empty browser window with a new interactive design that we have created is exciting and satisfying. So when we are instead face with incremental updates or improvements to existing web properties, it can feel more mundane. Where are the creative opportunities in that?”
But, as he points out, this is the case not just for web designers, but for all creative professionals. The key, he says, is not necessarily to create more things from scratch, but to re-examine how we look at renovation or update projects.
“A renovation or reuse project isn’t really just an old project with a new layer. It is a new project with a different set of constraints, and a unique set of existing conditions and context.”
Layon then uses the remainder of the book to walk us through updating a fixed-width site for mobile, through layout, navigation, images, text, forms and more. Published in 2011, some of the technology is already out of date, but the core of the book is incredibly valuable – there are no small projects, if we look at them the right way.