Monday, July 9, 2012

Why the Redesign?

Astute observers of this blog have probably noticed that I redesigned the site. Being someone who agrees with Lou Rosenfeld when he says Redesign Must Die, this wasn't as capricious a decision as it may seem.

So why the redesign? Two reasons really. First, since joining Lionbridge this site is no longer for selling consulting services. It has gone back to its roots as a blog. I wanted to move away from the Content Here, Inc. company branding and get it back to a personal blog. Second, and more importantly, I wanted to experiment with adaptive design. Over the past year, a growing proportion of my traffic has been from non-desktop devices (phones and tablets). Reading the site was rough on a little screen. And that plays into a larger philosophy of minimalism — keeping as little as possible between the reader and the content.

As an experiment, I downloaded a very basic theme (Backbone) and didn't customize the code at all. I just played with the configuration options. I also benchmarked the site using Sitebeam, which applies 40 tests. After a bit of tweaking, I was able to increase my total score from 5.6 to 6.9 out of 10. The greatest improvements were in accessibility (from 6.0 to 7.3) and technology (4.6 to 6.0). There were also improvements in the content and marketing categories (see screenshot).

Content Here Sitebeam Score

It remains to be seen if these scores reflect real usability and utility improvements. Anecdotally, I think the mobile version is much better. The content stands out and is easy to read. That was the result that I was going for. More importantly, I want to hear from you. Please provide feedback in the comments, Twitter (@sggottlieb), or Google Plus.