Great Redesigns

Redesigning a website is the most common job a professional web designer faces in his daily life. That’s why it is extremely important to look at previous examples of successful redesigns and how they have improved the sites services, functions and overall feel. I will look at what has been stripped away and what has been left, I will look at what has been added and the reasons for this, this will help us understand what needs to be done to successfully redesign a website from the ground up. Given the fact that the site we have been given to redesign is content heavy, riddled with problems, complications and clutter, where else to start the research other than the old New York City website which looked like this;


Using the Web archive, the initial appearance of the site was in 1998. Strangely enough the page here features flat colour so doesn’t look that old fashioned, while the style wasn’t so bad, the format was awful, multiple text links on both sites of a square centred in the screen made up the navigation of the site.


November 2001 sees the addition of an almost ‘responsive’ website where the lines of text adjust themselves to be the full width of the page. This is not responsive as we know it though as it stops working at 960 pixels wide, though this was probably fine at the the time there was only one standard screen size.


December 2002 saw the removal of flat colour from within the pages, and the addition of third dimensional objects like physical buttons.


September 2005 saw the removal of the ‘responsiveness’ as it was in it’s current stage and shifted the page from central to the left, a stage of the design that actually seemed backwards to the previous versions. The colour has been simplified though and a lot of the flat colour areas have been made a light grey colour, something we would continue to see on the web even with todays modern design. This design stays exactly the same with only changes of content for the next eight years until it is decided that the government just had to be redesigned. What’s fascinating about this is the fact that the iPhone revolutionised mobile web browsing back in 2009 when it was released yet it still took five years to decide it needed to be upgraded to be optimised for mobile.


The new website has been completely stripped of all the text links on the site and been replaced with drop down menus that work on both desktop and mobile in the exact same way. The flat colour has been added in the background to make it up to date with modern day fashion trends.


Orbital Alliance is another good example of great redesign. Back in 2010 it seems to have got a few things right, using subtle gradients to make content stand out more and a reasonably uncluttered layout.


Moving forward to 2014 though, there has been a complete redesign of the site which brings it in line with modern design. It has flat coloured images behind sections of white which move behind the sections.


CNN is a brilliant example for the design as it’s initial design back in May 2001 is messy, cluttered and not responsive with no colour and text links.


The new version is much much better, it has less but larger text, with images representing the stories but still uses drop down menus on the desktop to allow the user to access more content. Column layout seems much more prominent in this design compared to the original, but it the images help emphasise this.


Given Apple is at the forefront of design today and the worlds most valuable company, it’s difficult to imagine a time when they weren’t top dog. Back in April 1997 the design was as bad as the other designs around at that time. It featured one section of flat colour that held all of the text links and then a grid on the left to hold all of the content.

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The site got a major update in may 1998 when it changed its layout that is consistent with the one still used today, using a pyramid layout. Something that I noticed about Apple’s site is that it uses a landing page tho greet the user to the user, this is something that is seldom seen in web design but is a small detail that can really make an impact on the user.


December 1998 saw the rise of Google as we know it today but only in beta form, it has remained in the same general layout. Originally it was a pyramid format just like Apple’s. In turn of the century, the pyramid layout went and simply left the search. In a sense this was completely different what everyone else was doing at the time with over complicated content filling the pages, and Google just kept it simple. It is this simplicity that has made Google the biggest search engine on the internet.




Design Evaluation

My design, is meant to present to it’s user some of the lesser known facts about war, to give the users an understand of some of the underlying facts and patterns that seem to occur with media manipulation of the public and their understanding of the war. I found it difficult to find the relevant information because it is obviously sparsely available so my research stage of the content was very important as I was relying on the content for the shock factor of my design.

I organised the design into three separate sections, budget, economy & deaths. With the budget, I found the overall military budget, then worked out what it was spent on, the next step was to work out what it could have been spent on instead to improve the world. I did this using  a variety of different resources and you can find the full list on my blog post titled “FACTS ABOUT IRAQ WAR”. Afterwards I focused on how the war effected the economy, how much money was made from the war, therefore I looked at how the money was spent within the US and how much money they were able to make from oil pipelines in Iraq. Finally, I researched the amount of people that were killed in the war, what ‘side’ they were on and how that compared to the ‘acts of terror’ that are presented to us as the reasons why we started the war in the first place.

For me, the most important aspect of the design was to make sure the content was laid out in such a way it made a massive impact on the user, creating an interest in the experience of learning new information about the war. I used information I had gathered from previous research into creating a fluid experience that was both powerful yet simple. I considered the fact that the information was biased against media and government but at the same time, this could be due to the reason this information is not widely spread by the media or governments. This is similar to Charlie Hamilton James’ website because he presents information about the rainforest he bought and then pushes his bias opinion based upon his findings while he was there. At the time I felt the way he had presented the call to action was very motivational as it connects directly to the viewer directly.

Having applied some psychology to my design I have learnt that I needed the content to begin with that will have a large impact on the user, then I need to build up around that. The design should emphasise on the shocking facts that I present to the viewer, which is why I have opted for a subtle flat colour design with as little imagery as possible. This means that the viewer has no distractions and is focused entirely on the content, the only images I have on the design are subtle icons which which allow the user to visualise what the text is about, and faded images that blend in the background to emphasise a certain meaning. This can be said, among others,  about the economy, deaths and ticket purchase sections.

The design takes the user through different areas, the budget, economy and deaths and then asks them a rhetorical question “Who really provokes war on terror?” makes them aware of the exhibitions and then allows them to buy tickets directly on the page without leaving and then also shows them how they can get involved with the campaign directly without even buying tickets. I understand that a certain percentage of my target audience would disagree with the facts because they basically state that everything they knows about war and terrorism to be wrong. This could be advantagous though as it allows me to get a bigger response from the people who aren’t interested in the exhibition and they would maybe help to create awareness by claiming it  as outrageous and create a potential uproar in the media, which would make people speculate on the facts, in turn leading to a successful exhibition, which is the point of the site.

Facts About Iraq War

This is the facts that I will be using in my design, the links are available.

A lot of the information used is from YALE & HARVARD studies,

It will be my job to present this information in a user-friendly way


$640 Billion estimated spent on Iraq war

How it COULD BE spent;

$30 Billion/Year is need to end world hunger

$20 Billion to end homelessness in USA

$10 Billion top provide world clean water – 40% of the world don’t get clean water

$70 Billion/Year to provide free healthcare in USA

$63 Billion/ Year to make higher education free for all

$118 Billion to put a solar panel on roofs of every property

$200 Billion Free internet worldwide.

$40 Billion for a 1 week, all inclusive holiday to Europe for every US citizen

9B 15 Fluorescent Light bulbs for each us household



How it WAS spent;

6M/10B = 1650 Missile Launchers

1.3M per soldier x 100,000 soldiers = $130B

114M/12B = 100 Stealth Fighters

Destroyer Ship 1.4B x 62 = 87B

Submarine 3B x 30 = 90B

515 Helicopters 70M/36B

42 Surveillance Hawks 10B

15 Aeroplanes 34B

3B to arm soldiers with guns, ammo and grenades

80B Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation

62B = 10,000 Tanks


$401 Billion from the TOP 10 arms-producing and military services companies

“This work begins with keeping our economy growing and I encourage you all to go shopping more” – George Bush, Day after 9/11.


2.5 million barrels per day – Oil

$30.10 per barrel on month of invasion

$752,500,000 per day





Total Iraq’s killed = 179,240

Total Americans killed = 5,272

Total killed = 184,512

1 American 34 Iraqis deaths

2,996 people died on 9/11

52 people died in London underground bombings.

References: – song – bush shopping

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