Italy made a brutta figura (egg all over its figurative face) when the project to create the country's official Web site went South.
Mamma mia! The brand connection has indeed timed out. Projects of the scale of this one will fail without a clear vision and direction. No Web site has ever made sense when designed by committee. What this project needs is a strong visionary to become the champion. Here's how I would go about it:
- Decide who the champion for the project is. She/he will then hire one agency to create the user requirements.
- Figure out who your audience is. Is it tourists? Good, now proceed to write up the requirements for what that looks like. What do they want to do? Where would you like to focus their attention?
- Get all the people who need to be involved on the same page. Interview designated representatives from the regions, associations, hotel owners - enough of them to know that you are looking at some trends.
- Collect their ideas and comments on paper. Summarize, call out the insights.
- Use the input from all interested parties and the information about your audience to write up a user requirements document.
- Take that document and translate those requirements into a wireframe.
- Mock it up in an interactive environment and test it. Does it allow a user to do what he wants to do? Good.
- Collect, index, write, edit and fact check all content. Repeat for photographs and illustrations. Do so in a way that allows you to connect the dots for your audience.
- Remember that you do not want to show them and give them everything on the site - just enough to whet the appetite and to provide an experience without overwhelming. Link to other, specialized sites for depth, if necessary.
- Find a good agency to design and create all the interactive elements of the site. They will work with the wireframes and the copy.
- Get the content up and test navigation and flow.
- Review, tighten, make sure the whole site is telling a story - the brand narrative.
- Launch and keep on top of it.
- Include a social media layer once you have a stable site. It will help you show the character of the people inside the story you are telling. Italians are fabulously hospitable. I can talk from experience.
This may seem quite simplistic, but getting this kind of project off the ground requires clarity and lots of direction. I'm sure you have plenty to add to this list. Heavens, it should not be so hard. Italy practically sells itself! Everyone back away and let the champion do her work. Put the brand personality in and the connection will be there.
[image of Valle del Panaro, Samone di Guiglia (MO), Roby Ferrari]