Book Review: Web ReDesign 2.0 | WebReference

Book Review: Web ReDesign 2.0

Book Review: Web ReDesign 2.0 | Workflow that Works

By Lee Underwood

Web ReDesign 2.0 Book Cover Authors: Kelly Goto & Emily Cotler
Total Pages: 282
Publisher: New Riders
Copyright: 2005
ISBN: 0735714339

Redesigning a Web site can be a daunting task. Whether it's one that you created or one that you've inherited, if the redesign process is not approached in a logical, well thought out manner, it can lead to some major headaches. What is necessary is a guide to lead you through the process, written by someone who has been there.

Well, look no further. Your guide has arrived in the form of the book: Web ReDesign 2.0 | Workflow that Works. Written by Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler, it covers the entire redesign process from beginning to end (this is the second edition of the book; the first one was published in 2001).

The "Core Process"

The book employs a technique called the "Core Process", which is made up of five phases:

  1. Define the Project
  2. Develop Site Structure
  3. Design Visual Interface
  4. Build and Integrate
  5. Launch and Beyond

The focus of the Core Process involves the actual workflow of the redesign of the site, which is both detailed and methodical. Each phase builds on the previous one in order to advance the overall design and function of the Web site.

The first phase of the Core Process, Define the Project, involves asking questions and analyzing the data. This lays the groundwork for the rest of the process. The overall goals of the site and the actual budget are determined in this step. This phase is sub-divided into three sections: discovery, planning, and clarification. The importance of this phase is reflected in the book; it's the largest chapter of the five phases. Pay close attention here — too many mistakes made in this step and the rest won't matter.

The next phase, Develop Site Structure, focuses on content and navigation. Here the structure of the Web site is addressed. This phase is broken down into four views: content, site, page, and user. Content, being one of the most important aspects of a Web site, is placed high on the list of priorities here.

The third phase of the Core Process is Design Visual Interface. The three sections here are: creating, confirming, and handing off. This is where the creative process starts. Once the site goals are reviewed, the actual design of the site begins. The focus here is not so much on the technical aspect as it is on the visual, although the authors do recommend testing the functionality of certain facets of the site. e.g. forms, shopping carts, menus, etc.

Phase four, Build and Integrate, is where the actual building of the Web site begins. It's divided into three sections: plan, build and integrate, and test. The actual coding — HTML, CSS, and JavaScript — is done in this step; HTML templates are created for use throughout the site and content is added. Quality assurance and testing is heavily stressed.

The fifth and final phase, Launch and Beyond, involves the actual launching of the site. This stage is divided into three sections: delivery, launch, and maintenance. Topics covered include the creation of a handoff package, site documentation, and development of a site maintenance plan.

The Core Process is quite complex but the authors guide you through every step. The book includes charts, forms, and worksheets to aid in the redesign process. Some of the materials in the book can be downloaded from the companion Web site. Unfortunately, that's all you will find on the Web site. I had expected at least a listing of all the links mentioned in the text (there is quite a large number) as it would be an excellent reference for those who want further information.

Conclusion

The remainder of the book covers topics such as usability, complex functionality (such as shopping carts, polls, newsletter subscriptions, and content management systems), and analyzing the competition.

It's important to point out that this is not a how-to design book or a technical manual for back-end processing. While phase two, for instance, covers such topics as site maps, naming conventions for HTML files, and visual page layout, you won't find any information on how to code the actual menus and pages.

Along the way, redesigns of actual sites are shown in color, giving the reader a feel for the actual work — and results — involved.

If you're getting ready to redesign a Web site, you might do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the book. It could save you quite a bit of aggravation and headaches, not to mention money. According to the foreword, Jeffrey Zeldman (a founder of The Web Standards Project), states: "The first edition of this book saved my company thousands of dollars by pointing out potential pitfalls so that my clients and I did not have to act them out in the real world."

The book is an excellent resource for Web site redesign project management. Many of the techniques can also be applied to the creation of new Web sites. It is well written, well thought out, and presents the planning and implementation process in an orderly manner. While actually geared for medium to large-sized projects, smaller jobs will be able to benefit from the information gleaned from the book's pages.

Created: February 7, 2005

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