Deconstructing the www.netbeans.org Redesign
By Jiri Mzourek on Aug 01, 2007
Jiri Mzourek is a senior manager in xDesign, responsible for Sun Developer Products and SOA/BI. In his spare time, he evangelizes usability in the Czech Republic by organizing SIGCHI meetings, World Usability Day, and working closely with the Czech Technical University on usability and accessibility related projects.
In May of 2006 Jan Rojcek began a redesign of the netbeans.org web site based on the results of some out-of-the-box usability tests that we'd conducted. You can find one example of the test on our opensource website ui.netbeans.org.The main issues were:
With this (scary) list of issues, Jano got a "go" to go ahead with the redesign.
He worked with the stakeholders (NetBeans engineering, marketing and webteam) to agree on the main goals of the redesign:
- New visitor (potential user – not currently using NetBeans) is our primary target
- Make the basics clear
- “What is it NetBeans?”
- “How much does it cost?”
- “What is so good about it?”
- “Why should I start to use it?”
- Make download straightforward
- Make NetBeans.org more attractive
Jano created the first sketch of the new homepage:
Stakeholders picked the blue one. So Jano, Josef Holy (another interaction designer) and the NetBeans web team fine tuned that one and created a prototype, which was put on staging server.
So, what was next? Of course, Jano wanted to make sure the redesign met the design goals, so he created a script for a second usability study, which was then conducted in September 2006 by Jakub Franc (a user researcher) and Josef Holy. Sorry, that test report is not public, but here is a list of the main issues found with this design for the homepage:
- The upper banner with the main download button seemed to be ignored by significant number of participants.
- A majority of participants complained that information on the homepage did not inform them about NetBeans sufficiently. They expected "short", "summarized", "introductory", "high level" information about the product.
Based on those results, Jano polished the design:
The new website was launched on October 30, 2006, on schedule.
For NetBeans 6.0 there will be couple of new changes, driven mainly by simplified NetBeans packaging and download. We'll get rid of the whole "Add-on" section which will mean updating the layout of the whole front page. Details are still TBD.