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How we are relaunching our own website

By Paul Boag
Posted Sunday, September 26, 2004

Its a bit embarrassing really. One of the primary things Headscape sells itself on is our experience with accessibility and the fact that we build using web standards. However our current site has a totally separate accessible version and is built with standard HTML. Looks like it is about time we redesigned our website!

I thought it would be good to take a slightly different tactic to most website redesigns where the company keeps the design under wraps until it goes live. Instead I thought I would share some of my experiences as we redesign the site and let you see some of the thought process we have gone through.

Establishing our aims

The first step in any redesign is to be clear about your objectives. Why do you want to redesign your site in the first place. After all in Headscape's case we have received some very positive feedback about our current site.

Our goals are three fold:

* Create one site to meet every bodies needs instead of having a separate accessible version. This will be inline with the position we now take on accessibility.
* Create the new site using web standards is order to speed download, improve printability, and make the site easier to update.
* Give the site a new look and feel so we can relaunch it and generate some renewed interest in the Headscape brand.

What we didn't want to do is make huge changes to the content as we don't have the time internally to do that. We intended to make some minor updates to the case studies section but that was about it.

The design approach

Once we had a clear idea of our goals and knew exactly what our content would be it was time to move on to the design stage. I also knew that the colour scheme should be similar to the existing site and where possible the existing brand should be reflected. I also knew from feedback we have received that the site needed to be lighter in colour. With all of this in mind I produced the following:
Click here to see the new homepage design

Getting some feedback

Before we proceeded too much further we wanted to get some feedback on the site and see if we were heading in the right direction. We weren't at the stage of full usability testing yet but some initial impressions would be nice. So far I have asked for a web site review from members of a forum I regularly contribute too and this has been very useful. My next step will be to ask some of our clients to take a look at the design and let me know what they think.

A final little twist

A final little idea I wanted to share with you before I close is the banner at the top of the new design. You will notice that it refers to accessibility. The idea of this block is that we are going to detect what people have entered into the search engine and change the banner accordingly. In other words if they have searched on accessibility they will see an accessibility banner while if they typed in usability they will see a usability banner. This not only allows the user to quickly find the content they are after but also makes us appear to specialise in exactly the area they are interested in.


So that is as far as we have got so far. Please feel free to post your comments on the design below. Any feedback is much appreciated. I will keep you updated on how things progress.

About the Author
Paul Boag [ Director ]
Web: strategy, usability, design, development, marketing.
t: 02392 432 829 | m: 07760 123 120

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