The website is not a project
Rebecca's Thoughts on . . .

The Website is NOT a Project

The Website Is Not a Project

In my latest Search Engine Watch Article I present my case for updating the definition of the website. For years, countless websites have been lost in the gauntlet of what I call ‘project-dom”. Myopic focus on elements of the website process (design, SEO, content, programming, etc.) has distracted businesses and brands from embracing the website as an extension of the business. As a result, resources are invested before proper strategic planning occurs – resulting in disappointing, if not devastatingly dismal results.

The website is not a project

The New Definition of a Website

Rather than the historic definition of the website as a technological connection between pages using links, I suggest that the definition of the website be updated. I provide the following new and more current definition in my book:

“A digital environment capable of delivering information and solutions and promoting interaction between people, places, and things to support the goals of the organization it was created for.”
– from the book ‘Million Dollar Websites” written by Rebecca Murtagh.

This perspective has spurred a flurry of discussion in the industry. The reaction from the web industry has been overwhelmingly positive. However, the challenge will lie in educating businesses and empowering them with the insight and education to feel empowered to lead the website process.

For years, I have been educating businesses and brands to treat the website as a dynamic extension of the business or brand, rather than a static marketing or sales communication project that has a beginning and an end. This may seem complex to many, however a methodical approach and a little bit of planning is all it takes to transform the website from being an expense to a business asset.

One of the fundamental shifts I propose must occur for this perspective to yield positive results is that the business or brand take ownership of the brand. So, rather than letting the web designer, webmaster taking the lead, the website is more likely to deliver immediate and long-term results when the business leads the process.

The Website Does Not Begin With Design

This is where most organizations think the website process begins. High-performance websites do not begin with design, but rather a deliberate process that provides the necessary information needed to create the design that will serve the goals of the organization.

Web designers and developers tell me over and again that they are not mind-readers. And, that very often, a brand will provide a competitive website as a design reference and ask for something similar to be created. Unfortunately, this website will be destined to fail without being guided by the strategic goals of the business, being tailored to the audiences it serves, and deliberate consideration of how the website facilitates conversion. Design is a method of solving problems. It is incumbent upon the business to be able to provide the information needed for designers and developers to apply their talent. Being prepared, providing a strategic vision, sitemap, visitor personas, brand essence, etc. goes a long way in advancing the process to achieve optimum performance effectively and cost efficiently. I cover these aspects of website planning thoroughly in my book; Million Dollar Websites: Build a Better Website Using Best Practices of the Web Elite in E-Business, Design, SEO, Usability, Social, Mobile and Conversion accompanied by worksheets to facilitate the process of these important tools.

Hear a Podcast of web and internet marketing professionals Erin Sparks and Douglas Karr review the post and expand on my post here:

(Discussion about this topic begins around 14:20)

Thanks to all who have shared, commented and continue to support this discussion!

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Rebecca Murtagh shares website brandtips on
Media Room

Interview of Rebecca Murtagh featured on Features Website Tips From Rebecca Murtagh

In a recent interview by Entrepreneur Magazine, Rebecca was asked to share tips for using the ‘About Us’ page of a website. Rebecca offered various tips based on her many years of experience working with start-ups as well as established brands, many of which are shared in her book ‘Million Dollar Websites: Build a Better Website Using Best Practices of the Web Elite’ which was also mentioned on Entrepreneur Magazine’s featured on Entrepreneur com

Rebecca emphasized that organizations of all sizes in all industries tend to overlook the opportunity presented by the ‘About Us’ page. As one of the most visited pages on a website, this page must offer more than a two paragraph history. It can include images, photos, videos, links to blogs, social media profiles, calendars, or any number of opportunities to further engage visitors.

Rebecca explained that no matter who the intended audience is (customers, investors, media, employees or partners), the about us page is the ideal location to tell the brand story. “After all, its all about winning hearts and minds”, explains Rebecca Murtagh, “and the more transparent your brand story is, the more effectively the website can work to establish important connections vital to the success of the brand.

Because the interview included thoughts from other thought-leaders, many of Rebecca’s tips were not included. “Daniel asked great questions, and I know from example that most organizations view the ‘About Us’ page of the website as a boring necessity, yet it can be so much more – so I definitely see a blog post expanding on the topic in my future”, says Murtagh.

View the full article on

Rebecca Murtagh shares website brandtips on
image credit: Ed Wu

About Rebecca Murtagh

Rebecca Murtagh is a recognized futurist and thought-leader in brand, marketing, E-Business, social media, SEO and mobile. Author of Million Dollar Websites: Build a Better Website Using Best Practices of the Web Elite in E-Business, Design, SEO, Usability, Social, Mobile and Conversion, Rebecca shares insights learned from her 20+ years of  experience working with Fortune 500, Silicon Valley start-ups, small businesses and just about everything in-between.

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5 Steps for Brand Crisis Management
Brand Marketing

Brand Phoenix – Re-Invent the Brand After a Crisis or #Fail

Orchestrate a Brand Come-Back: 5 Steps To Reinvent a Brand5 Steps for Brand Crisis Management

Just as the phoenix emerges from the ashes, so too must a brand when faced with crisis or an epic fail.

In 1989, the San Francisco Bay Bridge suffered catastrophic damage during the earthquake that shook Northern California. While many were settling in to watch the World Series between two Bay Area teams; Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants, the earthquake wreaked havoc on the infrastructure of the Bay Area.  I remember this event well. I was living right on the bay at the time and remember standing on the water’s edge that night, seeing only blackness where I had enjoyed the skyline of the City by the Bay so many evenings before.Crisis management is vital to all brands.

I, and millions of others, have traveled the Bay Bridge many times. A vital connection between the city and East Bay, he bridge has been replaced with a better version of itself, and opened on Labor Day, 2013. Soon, the memory of the old bridge will fade.

Which got me thinking about how brands must also evolve over time – especially after a crisis or public #fail.

San Francisco Bay Bridge re-opens.

One of the worst thing a brand can do is to ignore crisis. In today’s transparent, social landscape, when **** happens, the brand that acknowledges the problem, solves the problem, and becomes better as a result, wins.

When your brand is faced with lemons – be prepared to make lemonade when faced with blow-back from a product or service failure, human error, natural disaster, or crisis.

Crisis Management

5 Steps to Bringing a Brand Back From Crisis or #Fail

  1. Listen: Understand where the brand has fallen short or failed to meet the expectations of those vital to the success of the brand (customers, media, investors, employees). Use existing platforms like social media, surveys, feedback forms and help desk/customer service reports to identify the problem and who was most impacted by the problem.
  2. Respond: Communication is key in the wake of a crisis, no matter what the cause. Use social media monitoring tools to respond to mentions of the crisis on public blogs, comments, social media, forums, etc. It is important to keep employees and investors informed as well by way of internal communication vehicles – these people play an important role in helping to manage fall-0ut, and serve as extensions of the brand.
  3. Learn: Parse feedback and comments through filters to prioritize the most frequented points of pain or frustration. Evaluate what can be done immediately to address challenges, as well as what can be improved over time. Be sure to document your process for future reference.
  4. Adapt: Implementation is key. Act as quickly as possible to improve mission-critical process and interactions with customers. Build a plan to improve upon infrastructure, process and communication related to this event. Integrate into culture to prevent, or respond to future events. A sustainable brand will be required to adapt many times over its life.
  5. Re-Emerge: Everyone loves a come-back. Once the dust settles, adapt brand messaging to reflect the improvements and success of the brand. And, be prepared to back them up. Over time, positive experiences and reviews will replace memories of any damage done. And, the newest version of the brand can emerge bigger and better.

Adapt or Die.

Truth is, the marketplace in which the brand must operate changes every minute of every day. And, every once in a while, just as an earthquake can disrupt business as usual, businesses will be faced with some event that could make or break the brand. The brand that is ready, willing and able to use a crises, disaster or #fail event to become better, will sustain and succeed.



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