Here are principles I think you can’t avoid:
1. Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a dealbreaker.
2. Change the interaction. What makes great websites great is that they are simultaneously effortless and new at the same time. That means that the site teaches you a new thing or new interaction or new connection, but you know how to use it right away. (Hey, if doing this were easy, everyone would do it.)
3. Less. Fewer words, fewer pages, less fine print.
4. What works, works. Theory is irrelevant.
5. Patience. Some sites test great and work great from the start. (Great if you can find one). Others need people to use them and adjust to them. At some point, your gut tells you to launch. Then stick with it, despite the critics, as you gain traction.
6. Measure. If you’re not improving, if the yield is negative… kill it.
7. Insight is good, clever is bad. Many websites say, “look at me.” Your goal ought to be to say, “here’s what you were looking for.”
8. If you hire a professional: hire a great one. The best one. Let her do her job. 10 mediocre website consultants working in perfect harmony can’t do the work of one rock star.
9. One voice, one vision.
10. Don’t settle.