Friday, December 4, 2009

Grey Matters #2 : Sectionitis

The second ailment in commercial web today is Sectionitis. From About Us, to Photo Gallery, the Section has been the de-facto way to organize a site. While the Section itself has been a solid solution for organizing content, the side-effect, Sectionitis, has led to the dilution of great ideas and a thought process that demands you create content for the sections, instead of ideas that makes sense for your goals.

Sectionitis says, we have these 4 sections, how does your idea fit into one of these sections? If your idea doesn’t fit neatly into one of these sections, you must either mold it to fit, or create a new section. If your idea is bigger than a section, then the only answer is to make it a completely different site.

What if you have four great ideas? Sectionitis would lead you to creating four sections for your site, one for each idea. Organized, yes. But now you’ve split your budget four ways, and the result is four ideas quarter-baked.

I’m going to provide an example for this one. Mountain Dew has a “Green Label Art” initiative going on where they have independent artists create bottle labels. The website has 8 sections total, ranging from Artists to Events to Gear. And of course a landing page that binds them all.

One section of the site is a Draw Your Own label. Very cool idea. Not ground-breaking, but perfect for what they are doing. It allows a visitor to “paint” their own label design. However, the interface and functionality is lacking. It feels rushed, and an after-thought. The signs of Sectionitis.

Instead of creating a section-based site, why not make this idea the site. Spend your efforts in creating an environment that encourages the visitor to express themselves while learning about the other artists participating. Allow the visitor the ability to change the canvas to other Artists renderings, while giving them the ability to draw on it as well? Is “Events” a section that needed any part of the budget beyond a easy-to use and post RSS feed?

Sectionitis makes every section equally important, so that no section is important.

If you are in the business of conveying pure information, then neatly packed boxes is possibly the best solution for you. But if you’re in the experience/emotional business as well, then it might serve you better to keep in mind that it is more likely that a structure for site will be the by-product of great idea, rather than the other way around.

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Grey Matters

I'm a Digital ACD in Advertising land. I have been in love with the internet for over 10 years now. And I have a Red Bull problem. There I said it.

I travel around different industries every week or so and look for interesting and tasty interactive bits. I hope to make this a place for ad folk to keep up to date. And I just enjoy the spelunk.

Brain Pieces from Me

"There is a creative solution for everything."

"Sometimes, to be successful with Social Media, don't start a conversation. Start an argument."

"This is no longer the Age of Information, it's the Age of Opinion."

"The work that comes out of an Agency is the result of not going crazy while doing it."

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