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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Don't let your designer bully you into a facelift

I was watching Dr. 90210 last night (a reality show about Beverly Hills plastics surgeons), and was astounded at how easily one of the doctors featured had manipulated a patient into agreeing to a surgical procedure he hadn't requested.

The patient had gone to the surgeon to check into rhinoplasty to improve breathing through his nose. The patient said he'd broken his nose a number of years earlier and, as a result, could not breathe through it. It affected his ability to be active in recreational sports.

As the doctor examined his nose, he commented to the patient that he had a weak chin, one that could be improved upon to make him look more masculine. (Frankly, no one would have mistaken this guy for not being masculine.) Amazingly, the patient agreed to the additional surgical procedure, which, unlike the rhinoplasty, was purely cosmetic.

Maybe the chin surgery would make the guy feel better about himself, but, in reality, the guy didn't have a problem with his chin till the doctor brought it up.

I relate this to web site design because too often I talk to companies that tell me they've just undergone a redesign. When I ask why, they usually say their designer recommended it, without giving a good reason as to why the previous site was a problem.

I'm all for making money, but I'd much rather see web designers approach a website redesign from the standpoint of solving a problem, ie getting more traffic, getting more leads, introducing a new product, improving SEO, improving site navigation, etc. The exception to this would be web sites that were never professionally designed or are outdated-looking, in which case a redesign for cosmetic purposes is clearly warranted.

Other than that, leave the facelifts to the plastic surgeons.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Internet offers the space to be creative

I was at a Bob Evans restaurant on Saturday morning for breakfast with my son, who was having a hard time deciding how he wanted his eggs prepared.

While he pondered his decision, it occurred to me that it would be a fun and useful feature on the Bob Evans menu and, even the web site, to have a "glossary" of all the different ways to cook an egg.

As a person who spent a significant portion of her career in print media, I really appreciate the flexibility the Internet offers as a marketing vehicle.

In my mind, some of the biggest advantages are:

  • Cheap, unlimited space;
  • Ease with which content can be edited (your mistakes aren't permanent on the Web!);
  • No deadlines -- you can add, update, edit whenever you want, without being at the mercy of a third-party publisher or mailing house.

As a result, the Internet offers companies (including yours) the opportunity to be creative in providing useful and engaging content.

Are you taking advantage of it?