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The Web design version of Do It Wrong Quickly

I updated the design on my Web site yesterday. (Yeah, I really know how to kick back on the weekends.) Take a look at it, if you dare. When you do, you might crinkle up your nose a bit, like when you come across this vaguely unappealing smell. I know that it isn’t that good, but I have a reason for doing it this way. Updating everything on my Web site at once is just a bit too overwhelming for me. You see, I have been trying to do that for a year and made no discernible progress until now. So, I could keep futzing around with it and never quite cross the finish line, or I could do it wrong quickly. I found that I strongly resisted the approach of doing it wrong quickly, even though I spend a good portion of my day imploring my clients to do so. We are all driven by the need to get it right, even me.

You know the story of the shoemaker’s children? I am the Web marketing expert whose Web site hasn’t gotten as much attention as it deserves. My wife has teased me that it isn’t a big problem that I am so busy with clients that I don’t have time for marketing, but the truth is that I paid for the new Web design and style sheet over a year ago, and I have implemented only part of it—the designer probably thinks this half-way version of the design is butt-ugly.

All I did yesterday was put in a new masthead and footer. They look nice. But the beautiful matching design for the content in the middle of every page is still on the drawing board. And I hardly changed the look of this blog at all—just updated it to say Biznology instead of Mike Moran because I have vague notions of moving it to its own domain at some point, so it needs its own new design. Someday.

So, if it doesn’t look that good, why do it at all? Honestly, I think it looks a little better than what I had. And doing it in smaller pieces makes it possible, I hope. It is easy for me to just live with the old design because it is too overwhelming to do such a big job. But now I have to look at it every day and it will seem reasonable for me to take a new, smaller step, such as updating just the home page content with its new design.

Or changing the information architecture to match the content on the site better—the information has morphed a lot in just a few years. Or taking one part of the site and producing the look of the new pages. If at least the masthead and the footer is the same, perhaps that wouldn’t be that jarring.

Why am I telling you all this? Because Do It Wrong Quickly is more than a cheeky book title. And it’s not just advice that I ladle out for others. Even though it looks a bit messy, I know that I need to take that advice myself sometimes. I know that the right way is to completely update the design in one fell swoop, but it was too hard to do, at least for me. I needed to do it wrong quickly.

But I personally understand how hard it is. It would have been more comfortable to keep delaying, not bothering with a halfway job. It is telling that it took me a year to do this—it shows that even the person who gives this advice struggles with it. When it’s my site, I don’t want it to be wrong.

But I know that the absolute wrong answer is not to take one step forward just because it is uncomfortable. Doing it wrong quickly (OK, maybe slowly in this case) is way better than not doing it at all, despite the discomfort. Now let’s see how long it takes me to make the next step. The clock is ticking.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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