Many of the 37signals folks are fond of saying “it’s better to make half a product than a half-assed product.” I couldn’t agree more – in fact, I would say that applies very well to web design.
It’s better to make half a website than a half-assed website!
Often people come to us with a good idea of all of the features they’d like to see. E-commerce, a blog, user forums, message boards, etc. But sometimes it’s better to start with just the essentials, and make those great.
Say you’re a band planning a major tour, and it’s time to get your website up. You’re probably pressed for time, and don’t have a ton of money to spend. Concentrate on the things people will want to see for the next six months, and then take it from there. You might want a gorgeous website with a photo album, complete biographies and discography, and so forth. But you could end up watering down the whole project in your attempt to get everything up there.
In that situation, I would say pick the two or three things that are going to give you, and your fans, the most benefit. I would say put up MP3’s (so they can give their friends some idea of your sound), put up a forum (so they can discuss their shows… enthusiasm is contagious!), and put up a tour blog. Come up with a simple and consistent design for the site and don’t get bogged down with fancy Flash movies or features you don’t need yet.
Too often I see people trying to put up the same eight or ten sections that every other band puts on their site. But under a tight deadline or small budget, they get a lackluster site that doesn’t do any one thing compellingly. Focus on getting the features that sell your (band, art, product, whatever) right from the start, and your audience will eagerly come back for more.