on March 1, 2004
I bought this book looking for precise workflow I could use to schedule a web site redesign. The presented 5-step process works, but is completely mired in page after page of unqualified observances and quips on the history of web design -a series of blandishments to widen the spine of the book. If you stripped 50% of the text from this book, it would be 200% more effective.
After reading half the book, I was not able to construct a mind's eye view of the author's project plan for site design. There was simply too much text between the important points, and no graphics to weld it together. I was unable to summarize the book for executives, and am relying heavily on my highligher for key concepts, as this book cannot be used as a desk reference without extensive modifications.
The authors tried too hard to cover the complete experience of being a web design firm. Clearly derived from the experiences of artists, this book lacks the conciseness an engineer would have brought to the table. Don't read it at night.
on May 7, 2003
I expected a book to help me with my job as web developer for a non-profit organization that has about 100,000 webpages. We do a major web page redesign once every three years, and the last redesign was a nightmare in its lack of organization. This book was to become my roadmap.
The layout of the book was pleasing. The front cover appealed to the designers in the office and the content appealed to the developer (me). There was a nice overview of the process and definition of terms so that both new and seasoned developers (and others involved) are able to follow.
The companion website, is easy to use. I was able to download the checklists in the book, since the book didn't come with a CD. That's understandable since I'd want the most up-to-date versions of data in the book. I wish, however, that I could converse with other readers to see how they are implementing the process. It's sometimes difficult to apply business-style web books with a non-profit organization.
It's nice to see in print solutions to things that drove me insane not too long ago with the last redesign. I think this method the authors have laid out will greatly lighten the stress level for all involved. And simple things like establishing deadlines and tracking time spent is so key, but easily forgotten till too late. And it's easy to back up suggestions for a process when the authors have given such great explanations and examples.
I also liked that the expert essays about various web topics, including knowing your client before you code, web standards and branding. I've already started implementing some of the tips these guest authors included, with great success.
The production and QA section is amazingly well done. It has example check sheets instead of drowning the reader in dry theory. It's easy to quickly (the key here) adapt these sheets for real world use.
Each phase is laid out with excellent illustrations, checklists and easy to follow project plans. It's so helpful to know where the road is going before getting three miles down it and realize you have to redo it all again.
I prefer normal book size, however, since it's easier to handle and fit on my "Most Used Web Books" shelf. But, at least the binding seems to be sturdy to put up with all my use.
This book has greatly helped me begin to plan our next web redesign.
on April 23, 2003
A book printed on glazed paper in a non-standard (10 in. x 8 in.) format normally incites me to be more careful before purchasing. A rather serious browsing made the book attractive. After reading from cover to cover, I can say that Web Redesign|Workflow that Works, is a good acquisition.
This book covers in details a Project Life Cycle, called Core Process, developed and extensively used by the authors in their Web Publishing consultancy business.
The Project Life Cycle contains 5 phases:
1. Defining the Project;
2. Developing Site Structure;
3. Visual Design and Testing;
4. Production and QA;
5. Launch and Beyond.
The suggested Project Life Cycle appears to be using a Waterfall methodology with some fast tracking. No mention is made of the existence of other more recent methodologies such as the Rational Unified Process or those at the origin of the Agile Alliance such as Extreme Programming (XP).
Surprisingly, examples of project schedules are presented in a Microsoft WORD format and no other project management software are covered.
The experience Project Manager familiar with the PMBOK Guide will sometimes be puzzled as no distinction is made between project management processes and product-oriented processes and both can be intermixed and covered in the same paragraph. Once realized, this situation had no further negative impact.
There is no mention or reference to the PMBOK Guide.
This book is best for the experience Project Manager who wants to become familiar with the Web Publishing environment. The novice should first acquire basic knowledge of project management to make good use of this book. The PMBOK Guide is a very good start.
Here are a few suggestions for the second edition of Web Redesign | Workflow that Works:
1. A new chapter on Information Architecture with emphasis on project processes;
2. Summary review of Content Management Systems;
3. Integration with the PMBOK Guide;
4. Discussions on the latest project development methodologies;
Jean C. Ducharme, PMP
on September 1, 2002
First of all, this book is probably one of the most current ones (at the time of this writing) to dive into the waters of Web Design from a Project Management perspective. It has to be noted that its focus is heavily on design, but always tying things to dealing with the client, timelines, cost, etc. I thought the title didn't do the book much of a favor: in fact, if you're expecting to find content focused exclusively on re-designing your Web site, you're probably bound for dissapointment, since there's only one chapter (the first one) that touches on this topic that has turned into a very commonplace nightmare situation for Web people to be caught in these days.
However the book IS packed with a wealth of content about WEB DESIGN at large, following what the authors call the "Core Process" which consists of 5 phases, all the way from defining the project to launching it an beyond. Two things that I found the book incredible about were: the space devoted to the first two phases of their methodology (planning and developing site structure) clearly overwhelms the rest of the book, which we all (should) know to be in line with the way things should be done -"measure twice, cut once." Also I loved the fact that the book is packed with illustrations in full color, as opposed to other publications out there, which limit those to "centerfolds" or B&W graphics. So, like I told you some time ago to go get the book on "Web Project Management" by Ashley Friedlein (published in 2000), I now advise you to get a copy of this book. As a Web designer, Webmaster or Web Project Manager, you will thank me for it.
on December 23, 2001
For a few years I have been studying web design on my own while pursuing a CIS degree. In my studies, I have aquired many books on various aspects of web design some better than others. An opportunity came along for me at a time least expected and I thought, great! Now I finally have a chance to design my first professional website. I was flying by the seat of my pants, and the client was asking for all kinds of documentation, and I needed an answer. This book was a life saver! I was at a web conference several years ago and Kelly Goto was a speaker, I didn't pay much attention to her then, but this book got my attention and helped me through my first web design project. The downloads are terrific time savers and the diagrams are great visual supports. The authors take an approach that is similar to systems design and analysis, but for the web. I highly recommend this to anyone who is lost, needs a little documentation help, or just wants to be better organized when designing websites.
on December 3, 2001
In just 253 thinly-laden pages, "Web Redesign: Workflow that Works" dodges the special challenges of redesigning Web sites, and ranges well beyond Web designers' workflow issues. How, then, does this newest addition to the Web site builder's library justify your time and its price?
The answer is that "Web Redesign" teaches designers to mix discipline with all that painful designer hipness. With its semi-gloss pages, landscape format, copious illustrations and liberal use of Jan Tschichold's elegant Garamond typeface variant Sabon, this volume entices lovers of design. Then the text content slips in, all rational and process-oriented, to explain soberly that Web design must push beyond pretty, that it demands documentation and budgets and schedules and testing or the whole damn glorious enterprise will fall in a heap. Authors Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler, old-school Web designers themselves, enthuse over funky skating sites while earnestly explaining that such sites need project plans. Screenshots of budget spreadsheets sit next to screenshots of sites with fancy menus and lots of designer-illegible tiny grey text.
Does all the rationality sound a little familiar? It should, these days. "Web Redesign" spends much of its time in territory already authoritatively mapped by 2000's volume from Ashley Friedlein, "Web Project Management". Friedlein's book possesses all the flair promised in its title, but its publication marked a new phase for the discipline of Web site development. "Web Redesign" echoes most of what Friedlein has said, with less depth and more glamour.
Like Friedlein's book, "Web Redesign" focuses on deliverables - tasks that you can list, tasks that you can celebrate completing, and tasks whose completion entitles you to ask the client for money. Like Friedlein's book, it broadly adopts software's longstanding systems development life cycle, which moves from project definition to detailed planning, to build, to implementation, and finally to system support. Like Friedlein's book, it accepts the challenge of gathering Web site content, a challenge alien to traditional software development.
Unlike Friedlein's book, however, "Web Redesign" offers a swag of basic site design techniques, from audience profiling to establishing file-naming conventions. Indeed, it reads as its authors' accumulation of notes on how to get sites out the door. It compensates for a wooden prose style by enlisting sidebars, diagrams, worksheets, sketches, summaries, tips and just about anything else that might keep the reader engaged.
This book also grants usability testing a key role in site development: its 18-page user testing summary, laced liberally with the thoughts of Jakob Nielsen, ranks with the best.
Don't buy it just because you're planning a site redesign, though. Barely a sentence in it does not apply equally to new sites. A serious book on redesign would show readers how to evaluate the performance of existing and new sites, not dismiss evaluation in three paragraphs. A serious book about site redesigns would place usability testing right at the start of the redesign process, not shove it carelessly into the second-last chapter. A serious book about site redesigns would discuss the sheer riskiness of a once-off redesign, and tackle the tough challenges of designing for continual change and expansion. But Goto and Cotler show little expertise or interest in evaluation, maintainable design or evolutionary improvement - and with that "Web Redesign" title they simply lie outright.
Forgive that lie. Goto and Cotler are at least spreading the word that Web site creation is a discipline. The combination of Friedlein's "Web Project Management" and Nielsen's "Designing Web Usability" (...) massively outguns the Goto & Cotler volume. If you can buy those two and read them, you should. But if you want to read - or want to hand a designer - one pretty volume, then "Web Redesign" is your first choice.
on November 26, 2001
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this title. I have read many books over the last couple years that attempt to address the material covered in this book, but none of them pull it off like this one does. This book will be imitated by many over the next few years. Let me just start this review by saying that I think this is a great book, and worthy of the attention of all parties that design or interact with web design in some capacity.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to web design/development, in essence - the chicken or the egg problem. Do you let the graphics gurus or the programming gurus lead your web efforts. In either case, both types of subject matter experts will be required to successfully deploy complex ventures, but depending on the timing and involvement of each will impact the way your final product looks and behaves to a huge degree. Web ReDesign | Workflow that Works is a text that discusses primarily design and thus takes the approach of a graphics artist leading the web design/development effort.
This book is a great help to me in understanding why architects with a graphics background want to do things the way they do. The primary crux of this text is timing and planning your web site redesign in a way as to save time and money, while making as few mistakes as possible. What a great idea! Well, in a perfect world possible, other wise the authors provide some tools that have recently helped them with trouble clients and various other project bottle necks. On pages 18 and 19 the workflow that this book is modeled on is defined; these two pages alone are worth the price of this book.
In all, don't expect to learn how to plan the development of complex web based applications, but rather expect to learn what steps are involved in the graphical redesign of complex web sites. Also, throughout the book there are smatterings of great information that is related to the topics being covered that are written by various contributors. Again, great information. I think that along with a few years of experience, this book can turn good web site designers into great designers.
on October 25, 2001
I'm a web designer/developer who operates a small shop. I use this book every day. It is so full of useful information and beautifully designed. I'm going to modify the recommended charts for my own projects.
The content is so well-organized, logical and persuasive that the reader thinks, "Why didn't I think of doing it that way"? I already use many of the techniques in this book, but I hadn't quite put them together in a cohesive way. I also haven't been consistent in using the techniques from project to project. I'm going to clean up my act. When you finish this book, you KNOW what works for web projects.
The authors address scope creep better than anything else I've read. Everyone I know who works on web sites complains endlessly about this problem. I'm in the middle of a horrendous project where I wasn't careful and I'm eating so much time. The authors offer sensible ways to keep the creep from happening. It's a critical issue, as it absolutely eats up your profit (not to mention your patience).
All of the techniques discussed in this book scale up or down to fit projects of various size and complexity.
I have so many new ideas to implement. This book has "place of pride" on my desk from now on.
on October 17, 2001
"Web ReDesign - Workflow that Works" proved to be every bit as enjoyable, intelligent, down-to-earth, and practical as I had hoped. I have been to two Thunder Lizard Conferences, and had the opportunity to listen to Kelly Goto's presentations about usability and workflow. She was far and away my favorite speaker, with practical, common-sense approaches to tackling web site projects of varying sizes and scopes. When I heard about this book, I was very anxious to see how it would turn out.
Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler do a tremendous job on several levels with this book. For one, the book is designed very attractively, and the design makes the reading experience all the more enjoyable. There are countless visual examples of web sites (before and after studies, for example), as well as tips and articles from other leaders in the web design world, such as Jeffrey Zeldman and Jim Heid. Every chapter begins with a "What This Chapter Covers" overview and ends with a checkoff list and summary. The layout as clean and polished, making it very readable.
There are no secret, convoluted schemes presented in it -- everything is practical, makes sense, and is universal to whatever web project is at hand. The progression of information is very straightforward. The authors lay out specific phases to the project, from defining the project to going beyond the actual launch. The most valuable subject of this book for me personally concerned testing for usability. There are many suggestions and tactics for tackling this sometimes-overlooked key to a successful design.
Complemented by worksheets to an accompanying website with files and information for download/printing, the book ought to be valuable time and time again. I had very high expectations of "Web ReDesign" based on Kelly's wonderful presentations, and I was very pleased with the results. I know I could have used this book long ago, and plan on incorporating as many elements from it as I can in future projects. It's a must have for web developers and designers.
on September 27, 2001
This book is a high-level, phased approach to web design. The context is the development team's workflow, and all of the key tasks, deliverables and roles that need to be choreographed to successfully develop, implement and maintain a web site.
From a project management point of view this book serves as the basis for a work breakdown structure (WBS), and the project sequencing. I was able to quickly develop a generic project planning template that contained a relatively detailed WBS, project phasing, roles and responsibilities matrix and activity diagram. These tools were easy to extract from the book because of how well the authors have thought out the key elements of a web project and the development workflow.
Among the things I most like are: (1) the care that was lavished on the layout and design of this book has resulted in more than mere aesthetics - as I read through it picking out the project elements I found myself inspired by the sheer beauty of the book, and actually felt more creative. Since I am more disposed towards technical aspects than art I was amazed by the influence the book's design had over me. It also made it easy to go through the book and find things. (2) completeness - while the authors do not go very deep in any one topic, they do cover all of the key points in a thorough manner. I found no gaps in coverage, and did not see the superficial treatment of the technical topics as a problem. In fact, this book is ideal for non-technical project managers who need to concern themselves with the project-oriented aspects of a web project. For the more technical members of a project team there is ample material covering every aspect of the technical approach. (3) sequencing - the phases of the project and associated workflow evidences the authors' extensive experience in web development projects. A lot of thought went into this and I couldn't help but think of the hard lessons learned on prior projects that resulted in such a refined workflow. (4) expert topics - the insets titled <expert topic> imparted a lot of useful information, making this book all the more valuable.
For detailed project planning and deeper look at technical issues I will always recommend Web Project Management by Ashley Friedlein. However, after reading this wonderful book I am now recommending that this book be read before tackling Mr. Friedlein's book. I also recommend that this book be provided to all key members of the project team because it shows the big picture and gets everyone pulling in the same direction. In my opinion, this book is an essential read for anyone involved in web projects.