Redesign: What it really means
You’ve probably noticed that once again I have redesigned my website. Looking back, I see this is something I have generally done every couple of years. Some people might think that doing this so often is strange, but I’ve found that this period of time is just right for me.
For one, our world is changing so fast, and I have found it critical to be able to pivot quickly, both for myself and for those I serve. I know many organizations work on 5-10 year strategic plans, but I’ve found it much more useful to work on quarterly and one year plans. The last few quarters I have been through a lot of changes, and I felt it was time for those changes to be both something publicly known and personally solidified.
You may know that in my work I regularly use the process of design thinking. It is an endless, cyclical process that is anchored in connecting with audiences and making clear decisions. While our culture is becoming more familiar with the terminology, I’ve noticed it’s still fairly radical to hold to the beliefs that underpin it. Change is happening so fast, yet we are stuck in old habits.
Unfortunately our communication “defaults” are just creating more confusion. I’ve worked with organizations who have put image first, perhaps doing a “rebrand” because it’s vogue; they’ve developed messages before their work actually changed, basically sending mixed messages. I have also worked with organizations who have make some major moves and neglected to tell anyone about them, thus depriving themselves of the critical feedback they needed to pivot properly.
The important question may seem to be: Do you develop your communications (design, messaging, etc.) before or after you develop your work, your actual actions? But the reality is that it isn’t an either/or situation. Communication and clarity are both processes that run in tandem with one another and have no end. A redesign is not a one-off or a project, it is a realignment that must be consistently performed, not unlike brushing our teeth.
I’d like to think I timed the redesign of my website just right because in many ways I’m smack dab in the middle of a big transition. I’ve already made the big decisions, and now that I’ve put a new face on my work I know I can expect even more information to come. Some of this information I anticipate and invite, and some of it I know I won’t know until it presents itself. Redesign always requires to some degree stepping into the unknown.
It may seem easier or safer to delay what must be said or done, to say what you think you “should” before you know what you’re actually going to do, or to make some moves and tell no one about it. We can get so stuck believing our communications must be perfect, polished, complete. But the truth is knowledge is ever unfolding and only when you’re in dialogue with others can you find coherence, and, importantly, find it together. This is what the design thinking process is all about.
We know that communication is two-way but we think that means we talk while someone else listens or visa versa. When we share, we can listen for how others respond and we can hear our own voices speaking to them. When I finished redesigning my website, and saw it staring back at me, that’s when the change crystalized for me. I doubt anyone had really seen it yet, but the fact that it was public made it more real to me. When I felt that crystal clarity, I also felt excited to share it with others, confident it would be clear to them too.
It is fitting that the synchronicity between communicating with ourselves and with our audience mirrors how we experience change. We often share because we hope to change others - their thoughts, behaviors, and lives - but we are also on our own journey of change. We will be changed by others too.
I was driven to redesign my website because of a personal transformation, once that was the result of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, testing, and iterating, over and over and over. I believe once my own transformation is made known, it will open new doors to help others transform in turn.
A redesign, whether it’s a redesign of our website, our living room, our wardrobe, or our whole life, is an opportunity to reflect, rethink, and recreate. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to reconnect, with both ourselves and our community.
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