One nonprofit + two web agencies + nine months = SchwabLearning.org. Yes, that was the formula to launch our Web site, and I am one of the sole survivors to tell you about it. In 1999, after eleven years of serving San Francisco Bay Area parents and educators through direct services and outreach, we realized that we could effect greater change if we expanded our web presence. This is the story of our redesign process.
The seeds for Usability.gov were sown in early 1999 when the popular CancerNet web site came up for a redesign. As usual, we began by seeking input for the new design from technical professionals: web designers, content writers, engineers. Our “kitchen cabinet” also included users. But the opinions from this broad group of professionals and laymen were as diverse as their backgrounds. Whose ideas were right?
Meg Hourihan, co-founder of Pyra – the company behind Blogger, shares her team’s experience in the discovery of Alan Cooper and the use of personas. Through their practical application, she tells the tale of how a product cycle was turned on its ear as the team discovered they weren’t anything like their users.
What lessons have we learned about how design improves the interface between customers and companies? Perhaps we can start by asking how websites have actually changed over time, and from that we can learn how websites should change in the future.