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WHY redo a website???

Nothing better than refreshing some old new still fresh principles.

Here are some random thoughts - not to be read in top most items being top priority but as pointers to take in consideration before redoing a website.

A few definitions

A website is first and foremost a communication tool which is supported by technologies and interlaced with action programming.

A website is the general term used to define mixing communication content in an interactive and immersive experience.

A media is a broadcasting platform like traditional media are TV, Radio, and Print.

New media is the juncture of content communication (which includes text and sound), communication design (imaging, animation and graphical rendering) and interface (context design) and interactive (user actions) programming.

New media context

New media: a new broadcasting information platform still in emergent stage.

Website: a communication tool subjected to new rules and publishing constraints.

Real time: time zones are irrelevant - websites are available 24/7.

Worldwide: The world is in your backyard - geographical delimitations are invisible. Even though your client base may be local – your audience is global. Anyone, anywhere, connected CAN access it - keep that in mind.

Hypertargeted: Mass media is passé think niche media. You can't be all to all.

Brain bites

One-to-one: Talk don't shout! A user experiences a site in a private way - it's intimate – although many individuals will be accessing the site at the same moment. It’s still experienced individually.

Audience market: The new industry and economy generated by interconnecting the world is empowered by the people. Economic activities are no longer vendor based but audience based. Audience rules, judges, perceives and ultimately endorses or rejects, the value or non-value of a website.

Listen don't push: Know your audience which means, build a profile of what defines their tastes, their needs, their thoughts and decision-making patterns and build the website around that knowledge. If you've done your homework well the audience will tell you by their feedback and recurring visits; no traffic says you've flunked.

Stupid consumer marketing era is defunct: An audience can find information on almost any subjects and this is the boomerang effect. Online consumers can now track the best offers, dealers, suppliers and providers - and if still in doubt - they won't ask you - they will consult and share with like-minded communities.

The 6 seconds pitch: A website is not about grabbing eyeballs. A website shows your capacity to respect others. Time is your audience most precious asset. Nobody owes YOU to waste his or her precious time. Be concise and to the point right off the first page.

Only your Mother reads it all: Content is a smart and judicious balance of visual (imaging/graphics/interface) design knitted with text information. If you have dumped the corporate brochure in your website, your Mother will read it but your target audience won't. Summarize your website in 7 navigational choices and less - 5 bullet points and less - 3 paragraph of 3 sentences and less... You get the point: Online - less is best.

Uniqueness of concept: A concept is an array of different ideas held together with an overall thread that you can model to fit a media. If you don't have a concept you don't have a website. Each individual is different and so are companies! Failing to express this makes you history before even launching. There are no template one size fits all.

Eye candy: A successful myth, eye candy is JUST for designers! Not true! A good interface captivates and entertains the users and sustains interest in exploring it! Eye candy is equivalent to having taste, class and self-control in creating an environment that facilitates communicating with the audience.

Online, the brand is YOU: What you know and your capacity to express it fluently and efficiently is the seed of success. Zeros and ones are probably the closest we have gotten to having a permanent repository of human history - so what you do and what you say and how you behave is recorded... somewhere! If you think that exaggeration pays - careful - there is no witness program online where you can be smuggled out of the mess you might have created. The web is about people - and what people say and what people do. Make sure that anything you communicate has been fully thought through, assessed, reflects reality and is truthful.

Objectives? Why? Define what is the prime objective of the website and stick to it. Trying to be everything to all is suicidal. You can't launch a new project, promote your company good behavior to the Board and Stockholders while educating your clients in using the online inventory while Human resources and Marketing Heads are seeking interest from employees to provide content for the in-house intranet. Why? You need to document each objective in a phase level of success or failure and adjust your future development according to these results.

Organism or debris? A website is a living organism that will grow and split over time. Make sure you have identified a unique need that your website will launch with and provide to. Failing to do so - due to internal pressures (where's the ROI man?) - external pressures (a similar provider has this, this and that and we only have that, we need to show more). Failing phase one, guarantees failing any subsequent phases because… there's no basis to sustain growth. Some refer to failing web sites as the WWW – World Wide Waste - money shovelled down the drain faster than you can think with no results and no chance of recovery. Grow slowly and steady.

Know your user well: If you target corporate people speak the language and walk the talk. If your target audience is 55 years and up don't use 7 pixel fonts. If you target the press - provide the tools to facilitate their work. If you are advertising a great deal don't spam it with multi-colored font decorations and sizes. Keep in mind that they know your competitors' offering better than you probably do! Accept that: you can't win over all.

The vaporware syndrome: Pinstripes, Jaguar and Bullshit are out - get a life and don't get it at the expense of your audience. If you need to boost your (corporate) ego - seek a therapist! If you want to publish a site to get on top of the competition remember that the pie is the WORLD and there's room enough for everyone... even some more! Copycat collage of the latest e-business scam is a waste of reputation and money. A website is about having personality, expressing and affirming it.

Have a cause: The audience market endorse values – not a 5% save on your products or services but values as in having a cause, promoting community work, bettering the environment, tutoring education, etc.

The WWW syndrome: If you want to redo your website because you feel you need to be more out there and because everybody is doing it or to flash the WWW on your business card, these are NOT good enough reasons! If you don't know yet what is your unique opportunity - wise to refrain until you do.

The web is not a linear media on a temporal continuum it's more like an *on* and *off* signal media.

If you want to be part of the *on* signal do your homework and be ready to invest patience, professionalism and money to remain *on* and gain the confidence of your target audience.


Knowing your business is what got you where you are today. But today and onward - knowing your audience is what will keep your website / business / career going.

Stay tuned and learn more.


Editorials by Carole Guevin


Essays — ethics — business of design — brain bytes — digital creative culture.

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