More than any other medium, the web offers the opportunity to redesign, republish, reedit, revamp, and redo our work over and over again.
Print designers hit the deadline at 5pm on a Friday, send the artwork to a printer, and forget it (at least, that’s the plan). Web designers hit the deadline at 5pm on a Friday, push the update to the server, and then start working through the client’s revisions (at least, that’s the fear).
We know that trends in design, and wider culture, affect how sites are received. We also know that developing technology present new opportunities. And more often than not, we don’t know what’s going to work best for a client until we can gather analytics, and we can’t gather analytics until the site’s live; so the nature of web design is to always be iterating.
On the other hand, design patterns only become design patterns because they are user patterns first. When a site offers users a way of performing a task to which they grow accustomed, changing the process can be like pulling the rug out from under them.
Every time we redesign a site in a saturated market, we present ourselves to our customers as something new, to be reevaluated, rather than the business they’ve previously trusted. A fishing trawler is likely to be upgraded over the course of its life. How often would it be upgraded if in order to do so, all the fish it had ever caught had to be thrown back and (hopefully) recaught? A flawed experience that the user understands is, for most businesses, preferable to a perfect experience that the user has to reengage with.