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Unreal-time Web Design

The Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite films. It’s about redemption of the human spirit, and takes place in a cold, sadistic, Maine prison, mid twentieth century. In a particularly poignant scene, an “old crook” named Brooks is paroled in 1955 after 50 years as a prisoner. He comes out of the prison and can’t believe the world waiting to greet him… or eat him alive. Big, fancy, finned cars are whizzing by, impatient drivers yelling at him to get the hell out of the way. He mutters to himself, “somehow in all that time, the world got itself in a big, damn hurry.”

Imagine what Brooks would say if he had a web design firm working with startup companies in 2011.  Probably the same thing! While the mantra of startup companies is “speed-to-market,” and we are often the vehicle to get them there, we find time and again that blind speed — without an intellectual GPS — gets you nowhere…fast. If you try to create a brand new website inside of 8 weeks but haven’t worked out your corporate or product messaging, how successful will that speedy web experience be?

We’re all living a seamless existence with our laptops, iPads and mobile devices, reading and commenting on events and correspondence in real-time, so it’s become natural to think that a website should be a simultaneous experience. But we’ve seen a number of companies try to circumvent the necessary consideration and intellectual work required to develop differentiated messaging for their companies, products and services. Consequently the words, design and even navigation may need to fundamentally change three or four times in as many days, extending not only timelines, but budgets. And regrettably, these rush projects rarely deliver on schedule — not due to design, programming or service issues, but based on unresolved messaging or lack of corporate alignment.  Other bi-products of the “Brooks Syndrome” include, accelerated graying of hair, massively chewed fingernails, coffee hangovers and a crash diet of Humble Pie.

Taking the little bit of extra time to think things through, even in our “unreal-time world,” will pay dividends sooner rather than later.