Redesign Rules

Website redesigns are hard. Harder still are redesigns for yourself. My optimism for a fresh start faded away when I realized that I couldn’t quite nail down the specifics of what I wanted or how far I would allow the scope to creep. The cost-benefit analysis of a redesign posits that you want to change enough to justify your time and leave enough extra that you could pick up if you felt ambitious enough to realize your full dream. Obviously, I’m no economist, so here I am writing this post.

At the height of this despair I ran into an article by Jonnie Hallman titled Redesigning with rules. He describes the process of designing his current website, starting not with sketches or wireframes but a set of constraints he dreamed for his particular site. His process was this:

For an entire day, I sat at my desk and thought about my then current website. I thought about the obstacles that made updating it such a chore. I thought about the parts of the website I squeezed in later, which weren’t considered when establishing the original design. I thought of all the advances in the web world that occurred in the past two years. Then, I made lists.

You can see his final list here.

I thought Jonnie’s advice seemed sensible enough to reproduce for myself.[1] So here is a hobbled together list of my current redesign rules. They are subject to change and will be noted if they do, but I am comfortable enough with the current list to make myself accountable for them by putting them out for all to see.



  1. “Content,” whatever it is, should be featured first and foremost.
  2. The design should be mobile-first and mobile-focused.
  3. The design should, by the same token not forget larger viewport sizes.
  4. Take chances on the design. This is you in cyberspace, express yourself accordingly.


  1. No heavy Graphics (with a capital ‘G’).
  2. Simple colour schemes that can be easily modified on a site/section/page/post basis if need be.
  3. Bold typography with easy legibility.
  4. Use SVG wherever possible.
  5. Optimize for retina and responsive sizes (automate this).
  6. Account for “single-use” creativity and styling when you are inspired for a particular page/post/whatever.


  1. Reward users for visiting.
  2. Focus on performance.
  3. Encourage conversation without comment forms.
  4. No fancy parallax, scroll-jacking, hover-only interactions, etc. that are hostile to some (if not all) of your potential visitors.
  5. No statistics tracking because you don’t care, honestly.


  1. Creating new content should be as easy as possible (commit to setting up a sane content workflow).
  2. Think about how to connect your content together to make a richer narrative.
  3. Experiment with different types of content as often as possible.
  4. Never apologize (unless doing so is funny and doesn’t affect your self-esteem).

  1. I haven't yet put together a public repo, but I will soon. There are some experiments that I would like to try and perhaps someone might find some of that useful. ↩︎


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