Of late, I’ve been working with a number of smart clients and prospective clients that have big ideas and want big sites. They know that their competitors are developing online models for products and services that use sophisticated analytics, tools for building community, and big doses of social media. It’s not as if these things are impossible to do for a new site. In fact, in many cases it may be called for.
However, most of the time adding new technologies, widgets, social media tools, blogs, calendars, and keywords is a massive waste of time and resources, especially for a new site and a new company. We always try to be an advocate for our clients—and most of the time, the advice is this: “Start Small. Think Big.”
When I worked on one client’s first e-commerce site, we deliberately showcased less than 100 products. We went with non-sized merchandise that would help to capture the imagination of customers and gain some traction via search. The limited number of products also provided actionable data around what was and what was not selling–using the crummy analytical tools that were available in combination with visitor feedback. We went on to build out the site that could accommodate many thousands of products and the client developed an internal infrastructure that could handle both fulfillment and support.
The lessons are two-fold. First, when thinking about a new site, construct a master plan that will flexibly accommodate your vision and objectives. But more importantly, design and build that site with an equal amount of flexibility so that, over a short period of time, your customers can provide actionable feedback via their visits, purchases, and requests.
Then, let it grow.