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Pat Dryburgh

I haven’t fished in about 8 years, but back when I was a child my father, my brother, and I would go fishing every summer. By the time I was 6 or 7 I was pretty good at catching sunfish. Tie a worm, cast the line, reel in a fish.

Tie a worm, cast the line, reel in a fish.

It worked like clockwork.

Now, imagine I want to take that same strategy today and try and catch a shark. Go ahead, envision me out on a little tin boat miles out from land, with my tackle box, fishing rod, a container of worms and a little net to catch a giant shark.

Tie a worm, cast the line, capsize the boat, get eaten by a shark.

Obviously this is an exaggerated case, but we do this type of thing all the time in the design world. We take one solution that has worked in the past, and without any thought or logic, apply it to a completely different situation we are currently facing.

Think about this: how many times have you added a design element, not because it served the design best, but because it was something you were comfortable with?

When I first started redesigning my site, I did not try to determine what my goals were going to be. I did not develop a strategy. I barely put much though into it other than “how can I make my site look prettier?”

To give you an idea of where I was and where my first few steps took me, take a look at the screenshots below:

This screenshot does not show the whole site, but there wasn’t much more to the design than this when I started. I had whittled my design down to a very basic set of elements, trying to keep things as minimal as possible. However, the site lacked unity, and did not carry a brand at all.

Which brings me to redesign attempt No. 1:


As you can see, things stayed pretty close in terms of colour and overall feel. I tried to make things nice and compact. You are welcome to ignore the question “Could the text be DIN as well?” I just really liked the look of the copy set in DIN.

This design has so many cliches I couldn’t begin to address them all. Needless to say, this was a poor attempt.

The next design I am much more pleased with aesthetically:


As you can see, aesthetically there is a lot to like about this design. The colour scheme is nice, the typography is pretty solid, and everything seems to really work. However, again it was just a fresh coat of paint. After this, I wasn’t sure where to go with it. There was no real reasoning behind it besides “this looks good.”

Later today, I’m going to post a few more of the designs I came up with, and then I will get into why I none of these designs were going to work.

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