Update: Website Redesign 2.0

Redesigning Website Design

reflectionToo many marketing executives have outdated thinking on Website design, which leads them down the path of spending a lot of money while getting low returns. They think, “Let’s sex up our website with some social media features to increase appeal.” Although a logical approach, what you will end up with is a camel (horse designed by committee). I’ve been talking to a few companies over the past couple months about “website redesign,” an activity that carries a very Web 1.0 context. You have a website that people visit when they want to find current information. Web 1.0 emphasized people pulling information down from the website.

During Web 1.0, the strategy and design focus were on making the website itself attractive, engaging and effective at helping people get done what they wanted to do. Depending on the company, the person might be trying to transact business; at a minimum, s/he was trying to find some information.

Web 2.0, the Spanner in the Works

Web 2.0 requires a complete rethink of “web redesign” because the focus of Web 2.0 is no longer an individual visiting a website to access information or to transact business. The individual is now in the cloud, and the “website” can only be effective by explicitly considering the ecosystem around it. The problem is, most companies and design firms and interactive agencies are website-centric. The viewer is increasingly friend- and cloud-focused. Survey after survey shows that people increasingly value the advice of (even) total strangers in digital environments.. because they more likely have a customer-focused viewpoints, and interactions are vetted by the crowd, adding peripheral vision and cred.

Website design firms make money by designing websites. Website design must continue to be excellent, engaging, etc. However, for websites to add the most value, they must explicitly consider the ecosystem. For starters:

  • Who are the stakeholders (aka “customers”), and where do they spend time online?
  • What bloggers (vloggers) are influential for stakeholders?
  • Where are the most influential conversations happening online? How can the website serve/add value to the conversations?

Questions like these have little to do with Website Redesign 1.0, which approached design from a relatively isolationist perspective. It wasn’t economically viable to address offsite clickthroughs. All that’s changed now.

Items for Consideration (updated)

  • You will probably get better ROI by interacting on other properties, not yours. Go to where the customer is, and engage there. By all means, provide links to relevant content on your site(s).
  • The conversation is the content. People repeat this, but they don’t get it. Engaging the customer to say something is more important than you paying a designer to say it for you. Who is more important than what.
  • Question your design firm. Their (and your) DNA is, “Make our content prettier and more exciting to draw more people and transactions.” This is less and less true every month. Engage customers in authentic conversations.
  • In fact, pretty content can detract from your cred and lower your appeal because it can come off as inauthentic. GM learned this with their videos.
  • Don’t necessarily hook your blog(s) to your website(s). Websites sell, blogs engage. Your blog can lose cred if it’s not seen as independent. Obviously, each case is different, but this is true in general.
  • People hate to be sold to, but they like talking about things that are important. Your website needs to be available to sell when people are ready to buy. But you need to talk more and sell less. That’s how you let people buy more. Confused? That’s part of the disruption! ,^)

What are your thoughts about Website design and Web 2.0?

3 comments to Update: Website Redesign 2.0

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