Revolution or evolution?

In my last podcast, I spoke about choosing the right design for your site. In the past, I have also written about the need for sites to evolve rather than redesign. Therefore, I thought I would put some of my theories to the test, with the redesign of boagworld.

Ever since my podcast co-host (Marcus) joked that it was about time boagworld got a face lift, I have been mulling over what to do with the site. Obviously, I am not going to change the site just because Marcus said so but equally there are a number of reasons why the site needs some attention:

  • We had a new logo for the boagworld podcast waiting to be launched
  • The sites code is looking a little dated and doesn’t really reflect the latest techniques I have been using elsewhere
  • The sites layout is very much like a personal blog and not very reflective of the community aspects of boagworld.
  • I want to move away from a fixed width site, which is no longer reflective of the approach I take on commercial projects.

A revolution

With all of that in mind, I started the process of redesigning. As it was my site I simply let rip and just had fun rather than worrying too much about things like brand identity. The new design was a radical departure from the current site, with no real continuity. Despite this, I really liked the design. Sometimes it is fun to shake things up and shatters preconceptions, especially when it is your site and you don’t have to worry about "business realities". Without a doubt, this approach was very much a revolution rather than an evolution of the boagworld site.

View the more radical design approach

An evolution

However, the more I looked at it and the more I thought about it, the more I began to worry. This radical departure flew in the face of the advice I gave in my "site evolution" post. In this post, I suggested that a site should gradually evolve over time rather than go through periodic redesigns. One of my reasons for this approach is that it keeps continuity in brand identity and doesn’t leave users feeling overwhelmed when they see the new site. I therefore went back to the drawing board and produced a more conservative design, which was more in line with the existing site.

View the more evolutionary design approach

What do you think?

So how do I decide which approach to adopt? In the end, I have decided to take some of my own advice from my last podcast: "Ask your audience".

If you are reading this post then you are very definitely my audience. So what do you think? Which approach is better and why?

 

  • http://3point7designs.blogspot.com Ross Johnson

    Very interesting to see a few mockups. Do you still plan on these being liquid layouts?
    Rather than make design element suggestions (as you say, it is subjective…), I will just give my quick “feeling” reponses of the two.
    Love em both –
    The first one felt slightly constrained with the additional collumn, but more business and professional with the color scheme.
    The second one felt more open and warming, more communal imo

  • Shana

    These both look great, Paul. I hope that my input is useful.
    The first “radical” one feels very ‘business’ and, in my opinion, doesn’t reflect the laid back, friendly approach you and Marcus take. I get the feeling that you are trying to sell something and I’m a little suspicious that any “website management advice” will be prefaced by asking for a credit card number. I think it’s the blue that gives me that feeling…too cool, business minded rather than the warm, open feeling of BoagWorld.
    The second one is great. I like the way you’ve restructured the nav. I’ve always found it interesting that you put your nav on the right side, as though you are putting your content ahead of getting more page impressions. In a way, that makes trust what you have to say a bit more. I’m a little disappointed that you’ve ditched the podcast badge, which I absolutely love.
    Oh, also when you talk to potential advertisers you can tell them that I’ve bought two books based on your advice (Andy Budd’s CSS Mastery and Zeldman’s “designing w/web standards). I’m completely thrilled with both of them, and I eagerly await further recommendations (specifically on JavaScript, if you have one…).

  • Mark Stephenson

    I liked both designs, but felt more at home with the second design.
    I see your point of why a site should evolve over time. Even though the site has changed I still recognise it as boagworld. Great work, Paul.
    Viva la evolution!

  • http://www.threedays.co.uk Rob

    Evolution, clearly the way forward

  • http://www.ludwignz.com Ludwig

    I am not going to tell you which one to choose but rather the feelings the invoke in me and what I can compare between them.
    The revolutionary design is just that revolutionary, it makes me go “Woah” this is new and I like it. It tells me boagworld has got more to offer than just being a blog. Instead of a one man show it feels more like abdnwagon of designers – a group of people and I feel like I want to be part of it. I think the revolutionary design does make your podcast feel like boagworld is it’s home by integrating the podcast into the design of the site as opposed to a link in a blogpost. The revolutionary design also “pops” a lot more in that I feel dimension – it doesn’t feel like it has been printed on a page because it is vibrant and there is different levels (especially with the navigation) to explore.
    All in all the revolutionary design tells me that boagworld has shifted from being a one-man show (a blog) to inviting me to take part in the fun.
    The evolutionary design is just that. Evolutionary. When I first look at it I don’t feel like much has changed until I look closely for the small graphical changes that you’ve made – you’ve freshened it up , so to speak. The layout hasn’t changed much and is still a blog style which makes me feel that I may aswell be reading this in a RSS reader because it’s a blog and the site design isn’t that much more exciting than that of your average blog – no pop. It feels flat and that I am not going to get anymore by trying to dig deeper.
    To me eveolutionary design tells me I’m trying to keep up to date, I’m still here and running the show.
    Comparisons:
    -To me the revolutionary design feels warmer and more inviting because it is vibrant. Maybe if the other design had warmer colors I would disagree but the vibrancy of the revolutionary design make it more appealing and inviting to me. The load of white-wash in the evolutionary design makes the site feel more corporate – which is very suitable since corporations also just give us any information and don’t want us to feel inviting to get involved. (Which is what the evolutionary design is telling me – not what boagworld is.)
    -The revolutionary design makes me feel more as I’m looking at a community portal as opposed to a blog, this is probably because it doesn’t have the run-of-the-mill blog layout and I see familiar community terms like “Forum” and “subcribe”
    -In the eveolutionary design the GOogle Ads fit ina lot better at the moment than in the revolutionary design ;)
    I know I said I wasn’t gonna say which I prefer but my notes above were pretty bias as I’m sure you’ll pick up! Good luck with the redesign and I hope I see a design which makes me feel like I’m more part of a community than reading a blog hint hint

  • http://www.ludwignz.com Ludwig

    O, just something else – I hope we’ll see some applications written by yourself or the team at Headscape – or should I say AN application which integrates a forum, blog and podcast service together so that I can have a seamless experience ;)
    (Didn’t realise how long my previous comment was, sorry)

  • http://www.j-volution.com john

    I think it should be the evolutionary design myself. The main reason for this is that if it is an evoultion of the site then the audience of boagworld will be somewhat familar with the layout and this will in turn make the site as easy to navigate as teh current boagworld.com site.
    I do think that it would be good to have a test page foreach of the new design ideas that the audience can see and then compare and give feedback on which one they found easier to use. As I assume this will be a key factor in the function of the site as the information contained in and with boagworld.com is to us (the audience) the most vital part of the site and the easiest style for teh new boagworld.com look so be the one users find the best to use to attain this vital content??
    Those were just my forts however I like both design but it all depends on what is better a redesign or an evoution?
    Personally I favour evolution as it is a subject that fascinates me and I love the idea of something evolving from a basic design into an amazing tribute to the creative skill and talents of the designer as it will allow you to Show the full potential of you as a designer and the amazing designs that you can create.

  • http://www.ronalfy.com Ronalfy

    I definitely like the evolutionary vs. the revolutionary. My first thought when I saw the revolutionary was, “whoa!” It definitely was rather confusing and you kind of lost your identity so to speak. I agree with an earlier post that it makes your website seem corporate instead of casual.

  • http://www.ludwignz.com Ludwig

    Wow I seem alone in my thoughts that the revolutionised design moves away from a blog towards a community or maybe no-one wants to read it :)
    I just realised wherelse I felt so at home, A Veerle’s blog, her design also uses blues and such but it’s one of the most inviting blogs I have seen.

  • Mike

    Evolutionary. The designs feels somehow warmer than the revolutionary design.

  • http://www.ebizvodcast.tv Eric Anderson

    I much prefer the evolution rather than a revolution. That’s my two cents Paul.

  • Chris “Praying Mantis”

    I like the revolution design better.

  • Chris “Praying Mantis”

    I like the revolution design better.

  • Chris “Praying Mantis”

    I like the revolution design better.

  • Eric Amundson

    I’d vote evo rather than revo, but they’re both quite nice.
    I really prefer the content on the left and the new design is more of a re-alignment of what you’ve got, so it’s less of a transition to users.

  • http://www.crimsonfox.com.au Crimson Fox

    I have to disagree with most of the comments so far.
    The revolutionary design looks like it offers much more and the colour palette is both professional (which some people seem to be confusing with corporate) and inviting at the same time. Having the menus on the left hand side prompts me to look through them rather than just looking at the article and not the rest of the site as it stands presently.
    But…from a branding point of view I think it would be a great idea to introduce the evolutionary version of the site first. Get people used to the look of the logo and then evolve into the revolutionary design. That way you will have some continuity between the designs – something to link each design to the other and allow those that don’t like change to feel safer in the transition.
    Nice work.

  • http://www.gismaps.blogspot.com/ Greg Gottfried

    I have a hard time saying this b/c I have a big fan of starting from scratch and doing brand new designs. I prefer the evolution of the site. It is a nice blend of what everyone has become familiar with. The revolution design is a bit too web 2.0. There are just too many rounded corners, and it looks too much like a cartoon. It’s hard for me to take it seriously. This is just my take on it (who cares what a nobody from the states thinks).

  • http://www.thecssdiv.co.uk Ross Bruniges

    the revolutionary one does it most for me (it does look a bit vivabit though…..)

  • Bob Delgado

    Evolution. Too much going on with the revolutionary design. The evolutionary design has much more personality, as if you are speaking one-on-one to me (or anyone else).
    The revolutionary design clamors too much for attention.
    Evolution…

  • http://www.connexion.co.uk David Rhodes

    The revolutionary version looks too much like Vivabit.

  • http://www.boagworld.com Paul Boag

    Damn the revolutionary version does look like VivaBit! Eek. I hate it when that happens. Well that and the comments you have all made have pretty much made up my mind.

  • http://amdsoft.com/ amd

    Oops, a bit late to the party here… ok well I’m a fan of the revolutionary style – the blues are very appealing to me, but not for the same reasons as Ludwig
    I think it’s a subconscious appeal, for much the same reasons we associate the colour with idealism, communication, the higher mind. “rational”, “honest”, “tranquil” are some of the other words I find associated with blue on a quick google.
    Or as my dad would say, forget all that rubbish, it just looks better!

  • Kelvin

    I definitely prefer the revolutionary design.
    I find the current site difficult to navigate past the current post, having to go to the archive to get to historic posts.
    The revolutionary one just looks like it’s easier to navigate and gage what’s on the page.
    Both are better than the current site though.

  • http://jmayoff.wordpress.com Jason

    I guess I’m a little late getting in on this discussion, but I think I like evolution over revolution.
    Boagworld.com is a site I visit about once a week and so I wouldn’t mind seeing a full makeover over the <span> of 6 months to a year, with little bits changing now and again. In fact, I like that: getting added new features little by little, until the whole experience is finally revealed with a wonderful Grand Finale at the end (which is probably one of the best places for a Grand Finale.)
    Either way, though, it’s all about the content, right? And.. as long as it’s Paul’s content going into it, then it will be interesting whetever it looks like.

  • http://www.norabrowndesign.com Nora Brown

    The revolution is like a shiny new present (though in a palette of blues that is a little cold), while the evolution is like a hand-me-down spiffed up with a few bells and whistles. I say — go radical!

  • http://www.tiltedsymmetry.com Joey Livingston

    You would be an absolute fool not to use the revolutionary. I’ve been following your work, Paul, and this design is, IMO, by far the best I’ve seen from you. It is absolutely breathe-taking, and having such a captivating design is going to draw a larger crowd to your podcast and your services. It will install a greater sense of confidence and trust in the wonderful advice you give.

  • Peter Ingersoll

    My opinion: Evolution.

  • http://www.richardquickdesign.com Richard Quick

    I like evo much better – both on principle and in practice.
    The revo design seemed a bit “boxed in” to me.

  • Ben Moorhouse

    I’d go with evo, the new logo also hints that new exciting times are appearing over the horizon.

  • http://www.sholomsandalow.com Sholom Sandalow

    The evolutionary redesign feels like an online community. It doesn’t hit you in the face with advertisements and calls to action. It trusts its visitors to find the right content, rather than hitting them in the face with it.
    The heierarchy of content is much clearer in the revolutionary redesign, and from a purely easthetic vantage point, it’s much more striking. However it feels corporate…too polished and pushy.
    Also, I’ve never seen a search box shaped like that. Do you plan on implementing this, and if so, what’s your secret.

  • http://www.boagworld.com Paul Boag

    If I told you my secret Sholom I would have to shoot you :). It will probably need an extra wrapping div to make it work. Once I have built it you can see for yourself.

  • Barry

    I prefer the Revolution look. I find it in the Revolution design to tell the difference between navigation, contents, sidebar discussions, and comments. My eye is drawn more readily to the content in the Revolution look that on the Evolution site. I also like that there are no google ads mixed in with the content in the Revolution look.

  • http://www.tranquiliser.com Dave Taylor

    I prefer the evo design. It seems less harsh than the revo. Maybe the it’s the familiar feel…

  • http://www.freewebs.com/whitetooth4you/articles.htm whitening

    That is not clear for me completely.Anyway thanks for your thoughts.
    Regards.

  • http://www.televizyonizle.gen.tr televizyonlar

    thanks…

  • http://www.adslteknikservis.com adsl

    You would be an absolute fool not to use the revolutionary. I’ve been following your work, Paul, and this design is, IMO, by far the best I’ve seen from you. It is absolutely breathe-taking, and having such a captivating design is going to draw a larger crowd to your podcast and your services. It will install a greater sense of confidence and trust in the wonderful advice you give.

Headscape

Boagworld