How to Create a Great Website

Seth Godin’s got another gem up on his site: “How to Create a Great Website”  in which he puts forward among his 10 excellent points:

1. Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a dealbreaker.

My experience is that working with committees is the one way to ensure a tediously long process with mediocre results.  Most of the committees I’ve worked with have had at least a 50% mix of non-web types who simply have no place in making decisions about a site, as they really don’t understand what a great website is.  Take his advice – if the project is worth doing, it is worth getting behind the vision or one or two key people and letting them reach for the stars, not the donuts on the conference table.

6. Measure. If you’re not improving, if the yield is negative… kill it.

Part of the problem of going for the vision is that often it’s incomplete, or doesn’t work the way you expected.  Watch, change, improve – sites that don’t improve are like sharks that don’t move…dead.  And the other thing most people don’t realize about watching analytics and tracking performance is that it helps you to identify new opportunities.  “Gee, I’m seeing a lot more interest in our shoelace product pages…maybe we should expand the ad budget there…”

7. Insight is good, clever is bad. Many websites say, “look at me.” Your goal ought to be to say, “here’s what you were looking for.”

As Roy Catignani used to tell me when I started in business: keep your eyes on the cheese.  Don’t let your desire to use cool technology or design get in your way.  Aim to be where customers want you to be.

8. If you hire a professional: hire a great one. The best one. Let her do her job. 10 mediocre website consultants working in perfect harmony can’t do the work of one rock star.

It kills me everytime.  I have a discussion with someone about an incredible project, and the business critical need they have for their new website, generally replacing one that flat out is not working for them, and most likely hurting them badly.  Then they turn around and say they’re also talking with their nephew about the project.  Or I give them a fair price and they turn around and try to negotiate 50% out of the job. In the end it is the project that suffers.

If you want a professional site, you’re going to need the best…as Seth puts it, a Rock star.   Now, if you’ll excuse me, the limo is waiting to take me to my next gig.

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