What we learned from redesigning our website (again!)

Common Thread
3 min readDec 3, 2019

By Michael Coleman, Director, Common Thread

It always sounds so easy.

“Let’s redesign the website.” Or the ever popular, “Let’s give it a refresh.” How about, “We’ve outgrown our site. It doesn’t speak to what we do any more. Or who we are.”

Friends, if you hear these phrases running through your heads, I want you to pause. Make a cup of tea. Have a nap. Maybe go for a walk. Travel… try a 6-week trip where smiling people pronounce WiFi, “weh-fee” and shrug lovingly when you ask about 4G.

As a team we have built our fair share of websites: for ourselves, former bosses, and our clients. We’ve also spent a fair amount of time talking partners out of dreamy-sounding sites and apps — especially if their expectations are unrealistic, or removed from a bigger strategic objective. It is nearly always more difficult than expected. It is a “two-times” process: Two times the budget, the time, the content…

Having doled out all of this amazing advice to others, we suddenly found ourselves in that familiar space of delays, technical glitches, design rabbit holes, content gaps.

But then one day, you have to let it go. The CMS works (you hope). It hasn’t crashed (for a while). The content is good (enough). And your hair is grey(er).

Home page of the Common Thread website. www.gocommonthread.com
“Look into my eyes… think carefully you well-meaning website re-designers.”

Don’t get me wrong. We love when clients embrace the process and the inevitably messy journey ahead. And we love our new site. We worked with talented designers who took what we said about who we aspire to be, and transformed it into a look and feel that showcases what we do, and how.

We wanted the site to share our love of beautiful things that communicate simply. We wanted to highlight our experts, spread across the globe. This was not only to reflect our experience, interests and diversity, but also because as founders, Sherine and I have always believed that it is people who make Common Thread successful. Committed, talented, passionate professionals and partners set us apart.

We wanted to reinforce our belief that understanding behaviour and putting real people, in all their messy complexity, at the centre of public health gets results.

We’re coming up to our second anniversary. Common Thread is in a different place than it was in the youthful and naïve days of late 2017. We have a lot of work under our belts. We have learned to temper ambition with patience. We have learned to chase what inspires us and to avoid what doesn’t.

We hope our new site reflects that spirit, and who we are. As with the company, there are sections we’re still working on, pieces we’re trying out, but through it all, we’re proud to share it with you.

Let us know what you think.

If you’re interested in insights from the fields of global health, behavioural science and designing for change, check out Common Thread’s Newsletter, The Stitch, or find out more about what we do at: www.gocommonthread.com

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