Redesign with Purpose

Since our experience at An Event Apart (AEA) in Washington DC this past July, we’ve been inspired to write about Image Optimization, Website Accessibility, and much more. This final installment of our AEA blog series focuses on takeaways from Jeffrey Zeldman’s “From Research to Redesign” presentation.

Let’s set the stage for those of you who couldn’t be there in person… Beautiful ballroom packed with hundreds of like-minded geeks—MacBooks EVERYWHERE. Jeffrey Zeldman takes the stage as opening speaker. The excitement was palpable. Jeff is well-known and highly respected among this crowd as founder of A List Apart Magazine and the man behind the magic at AEA. With a three-day schedule of various experts speaking on a wide array of topics, it was only fitting that his presentation be relevant and applicable to all digital professionals. In essence, his message was clear… Do your homework.

Whether we’re creating a brilliant new website or designing holiday postcards for a client, research is the key to success. Learning, planning and preparation determine the foundational trajectory of any project or campaign. For businesses, it’s about understanding your market—more so than your competitors. They say the best ideas solve a problem. Find your industry’s pain points and create a plan for becoming the solution! These steps are simple, and they provide a proven blueprint for website redesign success.

Know Your People

Interview, focus group and survey relevant stakeholders to build consensus. Utilize applications such as Hotjar and Google Analytics to see beyond assumptions and get REAL, priceless user data.

Listen and Ask Questions

The challenge at hand is abandoning any personal notions to make room for valuable insights from both stakeholders and customers. As Zeldman says, “You don’t have to be an expert to have a conversation.”

Define Goals

What’s really the desired result here? This is an opportunity to get granular (and realistic) about your expectations for this project. Equally as important as the objectives themselves, you must determine exactly how you intend to measure their success.

Clear Direction

You’ve collected the data, and now you need to tell your story in a strong, efficient way. We know what we need to do, but exactly HOW do we do it?


You’re not entirely off the hook after launch. Consider each campaign or project a living, breathing entity. With your clearly defined metrics of measurement, the ongoing mission will be to react and adapt over time.

How do these fundamentals apply to website design, for instance? Layout, language, and user interface are all crucial elements that can be fine-tuned to better serve visitors and thus, grow your business. With such a highly subjective landscape, one must rely on facts and research to make informed design decisions. Redesigning with purpose encompasses the work you put in before a single pixel is drawn or line of code is written. The more effort up front, the more effective the end result.

We would like to thank Jeffrey Zeldman (@zeldman)—not only for the enlightening presentation, but his passion and vision for An Event Apart. This three-day conference features 18 brilliant speakers and travels to several major cities throughout the country each year. If you’ve enjoyed our perspectives from the event in July, imagine what you’d gain from being there yourself! Thanks for reading.