February 1, 2013

Get out of the Gutenberg trap.

For more than 500 years now, we’ve been producing documents in ways that stifle thinking.

We labor to perfect a document before it reaches a printing press, because it’s too expensive to correct later. We have to predict precisely how many to print, because waste is expensive, and reprinting is expensive.

Today of course we can make a company brochure for an audience of one, customizable and digital, freeing us from a dusty inventory of static one-message-fits-all pieces.


Which brings us to attitudes about websites. Unfortunately, 500 years after Gutenberg, many people see their site as a Document, meaning it must be perfected before launch and remain untouched after.

Digital communications are not documents, they are processes. You can design a website with, for example, multiple landing pages that later analytics can guide you to keep or revise or delete. You can/should/must measure traffic through the site, noting time spent on each page, which exit pages need adjustment, and then update often.

We still hear “We revised our site last year, so we’re not touching it this year.” But your search engine results suffer when you don’t add original content, edit, or swap out fresh pictures. It’s not a bible to sit on a shelf; it’s a living thing.