Internet Strategy can be many things to many people and in the context of web design, a vague term becomes understandable. Here’s what I think it is.

So, you have a web site and spent thousands of dollars on that very expensive flash piece that’ll convert users? Or maybe an executive had a “brilliant” idea how to add value to your internet property? What ever the case may be, you need to know 2 things: where you are and where you want to be.

Where you are

Where is your business online? Is it on top? Do you have so much traffic that you can’t help but smile? I’ve seen different types of business conditions with different teams and I must say that honesty about where you are is the start of your success. Be honest. It’s not about being right for your sake, but be honest for the business’ sake.

Internet problems should be triaged and dealt with in an orderly basis. Everything isn’t critical. For example, with some business groups, their problems are the only problems they consider to be “critical”. Then we have folks over in IT that are running an old technology and can’t scale. During all this your users’ experience is degraded.

Look at the big picture. The business, technology, and user are all having issues. The issues may be different but there should be one goal. it’s not just one floor but an entire building. Be honest where ever you are, then design around your user in a balanced way.

Where do you want to be

Where want to be is pretty much easy when you know exactly where you are. Depending who ask though, “where do you want to be” differs every time. I want to be rich, says the business. I want better technology, says IT. Where is the customer service link, asks the user. Good design is user centered design and that’s where you want to be.

Getting past the politics of design is a big step to getting where you want to be. You want to have success online, yet there are obstacles (maybe even internally) in the business group you find yourself. Get user data to support ideas that are best for the business. Again, this shouldn’t be about who is right. Internet strategy should be about what’s best for the business in the long term and how to get there with-in a culture of usability and UCD as it’s direction.