6 Easy Ways To Cure A Nasty Case Of Redesign-itis

If you’ve been following me on Twitter or this blog in the past couple months I’m sure you’ve noticed that I had a bad case of redesign-itis… I must have redesigned SpyreStudios something like 3 or 4 times in the last 6 months. Maybe more. You see, I can’t even keep track of how many times I did it. Ouch!

Why did I redesign so many times? Why wasn’t I happy with those previous designs? I’m done now, I’m sick of redesigning. I know many designers, like me, suffer (or used to suffer) from redesign-itis!

So what can we do to cure this, or at least treat it? Instead of just talking to myself, I figured my thought process could be of interest to some of you folks :)

1- Too Much Inspiration?

Too Much Inspiration
I love inspirational articles and showcases of well-designed sites. The proof is right here on SpyreStudios, we’ve published many showcase and inspiration posts and I see no reason to stop. We can all use some inspiration from time to time to get our creative juices flowing, right?

But when is it too much? Here’s a quick way to help cure redesign-itis: Seek inspiration when you need some to get back on track or cause you don’t feel creative at all, but don’t let those killer designs you see everywhere drive you nuts and make you redesign your site ‘just because’, you probably don’t need to anyway.

2- Don’t Redesign, Realign Instead

Too Much Inspiration
Hey, you’ve worked hard to get your initial design up! Of course it’s possible you will get tired of it eventually, but don’t jump the gun and open up Photoshop just yet. Try realigning. Why not just change the color scheme a bit? Maybe realign only a portion of your site, say your sidebar or your comment section if you own a blog?

Try to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t redesign because you want to, redesign because you need to, because you’ll get a better conversion rate, more subscribers or whatever else it is you’re after.

What has changed since your last design? Find the root of the problem and fix it. Seriously, how often in the last 5 years did Google redesign their homepage?

3- Let It Sit For A While

Let It Sit For A While
If you absolutely feel the need to redesign, make yourself a huge favor and don’t launch your new design right away. Let it sit for a while, wait a couple days, a week, or even a month.

When you go back to it you will either love it and want to go ahead and code it up or you’ll simply hate it. If that happens you’ll be happy you didn’t spend time coding it and making it all pretty for IE6 users.

Redesigning just to show off your skills is kinda pointless anyway.

4- Just Live With It

Whatever - Just Live With It
Your current design isn’t bad, in fact it’s probably just fine the way it is! Why not just live with it and spend all that energy of redesigning on client’s sites or other more important projects that will earn you money?

Unless you’re not satisfied at all with your site’s results, there’s not need to redesign. And when you do redesign, it’ll make a much bigger bang and people will maybe talk about it more and comment on it.

5- Study Other Sites In Your Niche

Study Sties In Your Niche
Have a look around, study other sites, blogs and businesses in the same niche. When did they last redesigned their site? I don’t see big blogs like Smashing Magazine redesigning every couple months. Of course not!

Why not spend a couple hours researching sites in your niche and see how often they redesign, and what changes from month to month?

6- Work With Other Designers

Creative Team Work
Many freelance designers work from home, that’s cool. But why not take a minute to ask fellow designers what they think of your layout before you start coding away? This could save you some major headaches down the road. Even better, why not work with another designer? Yes I mean partnering-up or even hiring someone to work with you on your redesign.

Oh and if you work with a team already and you got collective redesign-itis syndrome, maybe it’s time you start asking yourself some serious questions :)

Your Turn To Talk

Do you suffer from ‘redesign-itis’? Would you like to share some tips on how to cure it? Please let me know in the comment section. I’d love to hear your stories!

Now I guess I gotta stand by my own advice, eh? Please, someone kick me if I redesign next month! :)

Images in this post: Strawbleu, Darwin Bell, Loving Earth, Hermés

Comments

  1. Hirvesh says

    I’m contaminated too…

    I just keep changing design every now and then..maybe time to put an end to it!

  2. says

    Yep, I got that too, my website has changed during the last 8 months around 6 times, and I still need to do something about it…

  3. says

    First of all thanks for using (and crediting) my picture – great to see it put to good use.

    There seems to be whole bizarre approach to own websites by design houses ranging from imagining it as a print medium (there, we done it – let’s revise in 3 years) through to nightclub flyer (I’ve seen it 6 times, it’s getting tired).

    Most of your clients will see your site rarely and actually enjoy the fact it’s recognisable from one visit to another; so why not take a little longer getting it right in the first place – creative a flexible framework to hold a variety of content. And then put your energies into creating new content to go into it – especially showing off that great client work you’ve just done!

  4. says

    Problem I’ve found is that I don’t want to re-design my site I just have too!

    The site was designed and built when I first stumbled into WordPress so it has been hacked and gaffer taped together with the little knowledge I had at the time. Today I know so much more about web design and development that even I can see the bad habits I once had dotted around the site.

    My reason for redesign is simply that it is ‘out of date’ more code side than design side – but why not kill two birds with one large brand spankin’ new stone of design justice?

  5. says

    I used to suffer from it too. However with my latest redesign I tried to tackle the problem. As you explained in this article I learned to step back from the design for some time and re-evaluate it rather than jumping on it straight away. I must have worked on it over a period of 4-5 months. Another thing I did was to seek a lot of early feedback mostly through Twitter and from close friends.
    It’s so easy to get lost in its own design that you can’t tell good and bad design apart.
    I am fairly certain that the new design will stick for a long time while making small adjustments to it. Like today when I updated the “Submit and Promote Area” of the blog. I’m maybe not entirely cured, but I try that it won’t get the best of me.

  6. says

    Redesign-itis is terrible. I’m infected too, and I’ve definitely wasted lots of time redesigning my site while I could have been doing something more useful.

    Your article is great! I totally agree on all six points.

    What can also help is to think about putting your creative energy into a new project. Too much inspiration doesn’t need to be a bad thing. But instead of experimenting with new ideas by redesigning an existing website, it’s often better to create something totally new. Whether it be for yourself, for a friend or even for a client.

  7. says

    Yep…I’m guilty too! Better yet, I get fed up with my design before I’ve even finished coding it! So the advice about sitting on it for a week or more is really fitting for me!

    Thankfully me site is nearly reaching completion, from there I’ll take your advice about not changing it too often…but it is hard with all those fantastic websites out there just pouring inspiration into my veins. The problem being with so much inspiration is that if you try to do it all, your site ends up a bit of a mish-mash and doesn’t work anyway!

    Says alot about developing your own style, doesn’t it?

    Great read, thank you!

  8. says

    Great post. I think every designer shares the same sickness, and as of right now I’m a big supporter of realigning. I’m now on my 6th design in 4 years, and this time I did things differently:

    Instead of jumping in and rushing through it, take your time designing it. Bookmark what you like, and revisit those bookmarks a month later to see if you still like them. Walk away frequently since there is no client deadline… and pay close attention to detail.

    I did that, and I still love my design 6 months later. Initially my site was a single-page website, but even after adding a blog last month, I realigned it in my 7th update by adjusting the sidebar, and I didn’t have to start from scratch (again).

  9. says

    LOL … I suffer from the opposite problem. Our site design hasn’t changed significantly since 2004 (even then, it was a “fast port” of our 1999 design!)

    Hmmm … maybe it’s time I actually consider a new design (and upgrading our blog engine version)!!

    I’ve either been too busy helping others with their designs, or writing new content. (I do add widgets and things, from time-to-time, but loath the “complete site design overhaul”. Maybe it’s just that I have to do it so many time for clients. :p )

    Cheers!

  10. says

    Hello, my name is luci and i suffer from serial redesign-itis.

    which is great because it means i get to try out all my redesign ideas on client’s homepages, and get it out of my system! then the smaller portion i have left over is just enough for any personal projects on the go.
    i do like the ‘sitting on it’ luxury, though and have used that method a couple of times to great success!

  11. says

    I had such a bad case of redesign-itis that if you view the source code of my site, you will see that I tell the search engines not to index it.

    I didn’t want the site indexed because I knew in a month, that design would be old to me.

  12. says

    I feel you on this one. I want to keep my general site the same but I would like a more custom sidebar and maybe change 1 or 2 things on the homepage.

  13. says

    I definitely had a bad case of it just recently. I actually decided to ‘re-align’ my site, rather than re-design it. Not only did I have a ton of business cards with the current design, I also realized I really DID like it, but I just wanted to focus it’s direction a bit more and re-write the content to make a bigger impact on how the user feels about possible doing business with our company.

    I feel I achieved that and it was really fun to maximize the current design, rather than scrapping it and frustrating myself to the days end.

    Although….revision two of the ‘re-align’ is already swimming around in my head…god help us!

  14. says

    I typically redesign my site any time I like a client’s site better than my own. Since I’m so picky about my own designs, that doesn’t happen too terribly often. It actually happened recently, but I haven;t been able to come up with a redesign I’ve been completely happy with. LOL

  15. says

    I’m just plagued with the perpetual feeling that I should be doing a redesign. I have all these ideas, but I never have time to follow through because the damn client work pushes it to the back burner, so the idea just rents space in my head. It is this awful feeling like you get when something important needs to get done, but never does. Like driving your car around for too long when you know the brakes need to be fixed or going too long between haircuts or not paying your taxes (of course, I can only speculate as to how that feels).
    Anyway, your post helped me make peace (for now, at least) with my internal redesign-itis!
    Thanks!

  16. says

    I really would like to redesign my site, for it needs to be redesigned. But I know of myself, that I am a really bad client to myself. I make a ton of new design-templates, always unsatisfied with the result. Since than I came up with a bunch of new templates instead of a new designed website…

  17. Lisa says

    Redesignitis? Wow, there is actually a term for my affliction. I don’t know if that makes me feel better or worse, lol. Better, I guess, to know that I am not alone. I think it’s the nature of the beast for us to constantly have ideas and color schemes and layouts and all sorts of things swimming around in our heads. I tend to do what’s been suggested – playing with ideas and then going back to them to see if I still like them. With my previous redesign, I was never quite satisfied. I am a whole lot happier with my current look. It’s more professional, more welcoming, more complete.

    Oh, and I have three sites of my own… one for web design and two others for some side work I do with interiors and jewelry design. So, what’s worse than wanting to redesign ONE site? How about wanting to tinker with three?? ;)

    Wonder if they’ll be donuts at the RA meeting? ;)

  18. says

    Hello,

    I think you gave great tips in this blog post. I love number 6: Work with other Designers. I know this works it save time and money in the long run. I know many designers who do not take input from others because of their ego’s. Well this can cost the client or the designer money. Work and Share ideas to build a better website. Its work for me in the past. Great advice… Pj.

  19. says

    Its a terrible syndrome isnt it! I have this very same problem every 2 months, Ive not promised myself only one design every 6 months – I find the best cure is to try and forget your own site, dont look it, avoid it like the plauge

    There should be help for people like us :-(

  20. says

    Mostly my website stay the same for a year but that’s not counting the 50+ complete photoshop I did in the last couple of years trying to come up with some new interesting design. I tried most of your suggestion, the one that cause me the biggest problen is #2- Don’t Redesign, Realign Instead. How can I just realign when I just want to start over with fresh idea each month !?!

    Now, I tend to redesign to try out new way of doing things or to get a new job. Right now I’m looking for a new job and doing some stuff with XSLT, so double redesign for me ;-)

  21. says

    These are great tips. It can be easy to become side-tracked from you main goals but we must remind ourselves that there comes a point in time for every tactic where you’ve reached that diminishing point of marginal return. Sure another redesign might help improve your blog subscriptions by 1%, but what if additional promotion or other tactics increase your target metric by 5, 10 or 15%? Do the thing that is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Then do the next thing that will give you the biggest bang.

    And to be truthful, I’d be happy to take any one of your previous 6 redesigns. It’s a real strength of yours.

  22. BebopDesigner says

    I couldn’t agree more… the little time I have doesn’t really let symptoms to manifest. But I know I do suffer from the syndrome, how do I know? wherever you are, and whatever you see, you’ll always be thinking, I would’ve done this or that way… or maybe they should’ve added such and such. Funny thing is, I’m not talking about websites, I’m talking about, shoppings, restaurants, tv ads, clothes, stores, streets, billboards. Crazy eh? What do you reckon? thanks for posting

  23. says

    Thanx a lot, might come in handy next time I planning a redesign out of the blue.
    One extra tip: build micro-pauses. So you give your subconsciousness the space to help you!

  24. says

    My problem is that I always check out some portfolio roundups for inspiration and then I see something I wanna have on my site, too. To realize that I have to redesign the whole site, most of the time. So you’re really not the only one who has to redesign his own site like at least twice a year.

  25. says

    It’s all true, it is almost impossible to stop the urge to change everything in place especially with the blogs, it’s so easy to get free templates as a starting point to play with the code, and when you reach a dead end you start from scratch….

  26. says

    Yeppers – I just finished my latest redesign and then read this post. You make some great points and offer some good advice.

    I don’t think redesignitis is a bad thing, though. Especially not if each design has its own merits. We keep changing things because we keep growing as designers and we keep wanting a better and better site. I’ve often thought of my site designs as a sort of gauge as to how I’m doing as a designer.

  27. Jeff says

    My real job has nothing to do with web design, computers or anything close to that, but I tinkered with HTML, CSS and Coldfusion once when I got bored. Anyhow…

    I hate the site I created 5 years ago for the company I work for. It only had 3 pages but it just looks way outdated (to me anyway). My boss likes it though. About 4 months ago I got an inspiration for a redesign and that’s all I could think of, but just as I got started, the boss decided he want’s me to list all of our 5,500+ products. That took me about 3 long months to do and I hated putting so much work into a design I couldn’t stand in the first place.

    I guess my point is, if you really don’t like the site you created for someone else (for free, but on company time), find a way to get inspired to redesign long before your boss asks you to add the the whole inventory!

  28. says

    I agree with Jon (above), especially the idea that clients won’t see our sites often, and will feel comforted by its familiarity. I redesigned my main site every few years from the late 90’s to about 2006, but I’ve let it sit since then, though I’ve been tempted to make changes. I try to factor in how much time and energy it will take, with little if any likelihood of it bringing it more clients. Great post!

  29. says

    Was thinking about a redesign recently but think I’ve decided on a realign instead. Great tips here that I will consider as I go!

  30. says

    I think I have that illness but I’m trying cure myself really hard. My main problem is not with my own design but with my clients designs that sometimes I don’t feel happy with them. But I’ll realign like you just said.

  31. Ben Floyd says

    I confess that I too have this problem. I had it when i painted and i have it now with web design. The frustration is probably what led me to stop painting and drawing, but with web design there is another solution – themes. I always build a theming engine first thing and design my arse off

  32. says

    I used to do that all the time, first when I used WP.com and tried every possible template, later when I first had my own domain. I learnt to sit on it myself. Forcing not to tinker or tweak.

    I suppose it comes not with disatisfaction about your design, but with the drive we have to churn out code. Also, I’ve found, we do it because we can; our sites are our own playground. I don’t think many people go ahead and design sites they’ve done for others every couple of weeks – although others here seem to claim the reverse.

  33. says

    Great post! I’ve been investing a LOT of time and energy into the redesign of my online art gallery. Fortunately, what you’ve suggested, I have been doing.

    As a photographer and an artist, I can never have too much inspiration. My new design is versatile enough to not only realign things, but it works very well with my artwork.

    I let the thought of a redesign sit in the back of my mind for a couple of months before actually deciding to do it. I’ve talked with several other designers, the general public, reseached other artist’s websites and I’m confident this redesign is exactly what my online art gallery will need to succeed.

    Thank you for assuring me that I am on the right path!

  34. says

    I do this from time to time, in fact I am half way through another redesign of photogabble as I speak. However this time it is much needed because I have learnt a lot more about blog design than before and wish to experiment with what I have gained. Back in the early days of my blogging almost six or seven years ago I would have a new design almost every other week, I then found the best way to channel that energy would be in designing wordpress themes and releasing them for free.

    a) this gives you a great creative output
    b) you get a lot of great content on your blog without having to redesign it.

  35. says

    I have to say I used to have this issue so badly in the past. I am happy to say that I have not redesigned my website in over a year! Im proud of it and I am enjoying the time I have to spend on other design projects!

    I will admit, I have thought about doing a redesign though…

  36. says

    I find change for the sake of change happens , and is to be avoided – definitely use something as much as you can

    if it aint broke dont fix it – this applies to all our creative things

    ben

  37. says

    Great post! You’re absolutely right! Designing web for yourself is always hard, You still have problems with some small details which (usually) others didn’t see but You do … It’s pretty hard to get over it, but I agree that it’s good idea to let is sit for a while, sometimes You find it’s not as bad as You thought … And if You still feel You’ve to redesign it, then You really have to :)

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