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You say tomato, I say tomeito. Or is it avocado?

Published: at 12:13 PM

You’re in a meeting and the boss says we’re going to redesign the website. Everybody nods as it’s so badly needed. High level plans are discussed and it’s clear who’s going to do what and when.

You’ve been in those meetings. Everybody is really excited but that energy fades quickly. Things start to get delayed and nobody is confident anymore about what or when you’ll be able to launch.

When it finally goes live you’re relieved that it’s over and a bit depressed of what-could-have-been-but-wasn’t.

Why does it happen all the time?

Missing shared understanding

What does redesign actually mean? It’s a simple word with hundreds of possible interpretations. Like tomatoes, redesigns come in multiple shapes and colours. The problem arises when people stick to their interpretation of what we mean by redesign (or any other word of the design lingo), and believe that everybody else has the same one. This rarely happens.


Image credit: Derek Huether

From the get-go the team has very different expectations so delays and frustrations are inevitable. How do we solve it?

Clear expectations

Words are not enough, you need to visualise and quantify what you mean. If you are doing a redesign look for a frame that helps the team understand what that means. Print out the current site and a previous version, or a competitor, or another website that is similar enough. Put them in front of the team and discuss what gap is more appropriate. You’ll find that people’s expectations are wildly different.

Then break it down even further. What are you going to do with:

Are you going to keep some? Change all of it? These changes will massively impact what you need to do, so agree on what is expected from day one.

As it’s going to be impossible to exactly pinpoint the degree of change required, you can set an intention.

It’s going to be 75% change from the current site and option B We aim to change 1/2 the copy. All images should change.

You get the idea. At least now you are better prepared to guesstimate how long it will take to deliver. And when somebody requests to rewrite all the content you can go back to the previous discussion and remind them that you agreed to do less with X amount of time. Reduce scope or increase the time available, otherwise both the team and the quality of the work will suffer.

So on your next project kick off meeting remember: words are meaningless and forgettable.