Deja view

Posted: May 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Design & UX | No Comments »

I’ve often noted that design work done a just few years back can look dated – I feel this is very true with web properties.  So when a site I designed some four years ago finally went live recently, I was surprised to see that  it looked – pretty good!

Let me explain: when my job at Citigroup was discontinued in early 2007 I had been working on a strategic redesign of the Corporate intranet. New portal platform, personalization, customization, editorial workflow, global reach, multiple languages – a fairly complex set of requirements met with a careully thought-out approach. We’d done usability testing all around the world and were working hard on socializing it to get buy-in with the business lines (some of which have been sold off since then).

Given the turmoil Citi has gone through and the tens of thousands of people like me who were laid off, I wasn’t surprised to hear that the project wasn’t exactly front-burner. After a while, I forgot abut it.

The other week I happened to be looking over the shoulder of someone who was working remotely on Citi’s VPN and there it was – live at last. The visual layer had been tweaked but the information architecture, structural elements, personalization and user customizations were all there. Shortly after, one of my colleagues still at Citi contacted me to let me know it had finally made it.

It’s odd to think of that solution maintaining viability over time in some kind of suspended animation, and my instinctive reaction was to wonder how it could still be viable. And yet, I’ve worked on similar solutions for global companies since then and I’ve come around to thinking that a good architecture and well-planned foundational structure can have a greater shelf life than I might think, and in this case the changes to the visual design (generally simplifications – IMHO too much so) allowed the structure to do it’s work while providing a ‘skin’ that’s harmonious with the current brand identity.

So I’ve come away feeling a ‘job well done’ satisfaction, and I’m both pleased and amused that this solution that was sketched out so long ago has finally been released…the longest gestation I know of.