The Rules of Rebirth

, Thursday, October 20th, 2011

For any organization, redesigning your website can be a little like giving birth. It’s messy, it can be scary at times, there’s a pretty solid deadline and by the end of the process you have magically created something special. Color me dramatic, but today I have the great honor to welcome the newly re-imagined adcouncil.org into the world both as it’s biggest fan (Smokey, call me!) and as one of its midwives.

When Ad Council approached Beaconfire about this monumental project, the FanGirl in me let out an embarrassing little squeal. What self respecting, red blooded Creative Director wouldn’t be thrilled at the chance to help one of the most iconic American brands reinvent itself online? We couldn’t wait to get started.

As the complexity of our task sank in I’ll admit to a few … small… moments of panic. Ya know, like… Would we be able to do justice to Ad Council’s incredible 70 year legacy? How could we represent the massive depth and breath of their body of work in an accessible and engaging way? Would the technical requirements for all that media be a roadblock? OH! And what if we weren’t able to translate Ad Council’s unerring creative vision effectively to the web? And.. And.. And… #omg

These seemingly overwhelming concerns (along with a laundry list of many more) are likely familiar to any organization as they start down the path of a site redesign. So how do you take that first step? It may be simple, but I truly believe that success boils down to a children’s riddle: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

To get you started, here are a few design/user experience tips to chew on:

Ask a lot of questions
Design requirements are obviously important, but expectations and dreams also need to be uncovered before jumping into a redesign. There are never dumb questions, only opportunities to learn more about who you are designing for.

Think like your audience
When it comes to supporting brand identity and organizational goals, client preferences will guide part of the creative direction. However, it’s the audience who will be using what you create. Put yourself in their shoes and advocate for their needs with every design choice.

Keep it simple
It’s far easier to overdesign than to create something deceptively straightforward on the surface that reveals a complex message underneath. Follow your gut and remember less is always more.

Tell a good story
Content, brand, imagery, media, messaging – these are all facets of a website’s narrative. Make sure that the site design and user experience not only supports your story, but also enhances it.

Design for action
Eye candy can win you awards, but doesn’t always ensure engagement. Design for beauty as well as for purpose and always remember that mindful creative can change the world.

Adcouncil.org represents hundreds of hours of work and the dedication of a focused team that not only embraced rebirth, but championed it at every step. It’s glib to say that any organization can do the same but I truly believe that armed with clear project goals, passionate creativity, smart people who have your back and the unshakable belief that anything is possible, you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Happy Birthday, adcouncil.org. We can’t wait to see what you do next.

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