There are many factors that go into the redesign of a web site: functionality, priority, user preferences, traffic values, ease of use, and a lot more. One that doesn’t get a lot of discussion is quite simple, and what we call:
Biggest Eye(s) of the Beholder(s) (BEOTB)
What is that? That is the client – the folks that will probably look at the site the most, think about it most, and have the strongest opinions about the proper hue of blue on the page title text.
Yet, surprisingly, many clients new to a developer tend to be silent on this subject. Clients shouldn’t be, because graphic design dissatisfaction can lead to a general unhappiness with the developer BEFORE any results are available upon release. This can particularly happen in the “website by committee” process. It is best to have an open discussion about design prior to any mockup.
What we prefer to do is ask the client to send us URLs of web sites that they believe are attractive and are structured in a way that would work well for their organization. This reduces guesswork on the preferences of the BEOTB(s). It also opens up the discussion on the pros and cons of such designs as they relate to functionality, priority, and user experience. This discussion often leads into WHY such designs might be preferred by the client – which can be different priorities than what are stated as the point of the redesign.
It can also illuminate the different priorities for different voices of the client – sales has different goals than customer service, accounting has different goals than marketing, etc.
By having REAL web sites to discuss, rather than mockups, it reduces the amount of design time required for consensus building. Design time is cost.
Now there is a down side to this, in that the client could select designs that do not fit the information and usage needs of the web site. But it is best to have that discussion early, before any mockup, and make sure everyone knows WHY a particular layout would be developed.
So, future clients of web developers everywhere, a word of advice: Come Prepared. Have some URLs of sites that you think are appropriate to your organization’s content, needs, and users. You can save some money that way.