While open to the public redesign projects have lately been popularised by Mark Boulton Design‘s work for Drupal and by Happy Cog‘s work for Mozilla, it’s rare to find a commercial company involved in an open project.
When we redesigned New Internationalist in the open earlier this year, I discovered that people were genuinely interested in the process and were keen to share their ideas and respectfully air their criticisms. This undoubtably led to a better end-result and I'm sure it helped the New Internationalist team to feel that they were more involved in the design experience.
It's rare to find a commercial company willing to participate in an open process though. Maybe that's because companies have a learned perception that in business it's best to keep their plans to themselves. It may also be true that web designers are wary of revealing their processes or opening their work to criticism? That's why I am so pleased that my friends at CannyBill have agreed that we will redesign their site in the open. More than that, they have encouraged me to share the designs as they develop.
It is standard for me these days, I will be designing predominantly using markup and CSS, reserving Photoshop and Fireworks for making design elements and the very occasional static visual. This means that I will be able to react to your feedback and suggestions much more quickly and make new iterations of the designs faster so that you'll be able to interact with them in a browser.
As I'm designing in the open, your feedback and suggestions are going to be vitally important, both on the design work that I make but also on the existing CannyBill site and what it does right and wrong. I will be blogging links to the markup and CSS templates along the way and sharing research, inspiration and source materials on the CannyBill redesign Flickr group.
I'm also over the moon to announce that we'll be working with web copy writer Relly Annett-Baker. Relly has worked with some of the best known web agencies in the UK and I'm stoked that she will be lending her pen knib to the project.
If you would like to get involved, go take a look at CannyBill and get ready for the ride. (deep breath)