Lessons from What Not to Wear

We’re doing a lot of website makeovers this month, so I thought we’d see how website makeovers compare with other kinds of makeovers. What better place to start than with TLC TV’s What Not to Wear, a program that made people over for nearly a decade?

In case you’re unfamiliar with the program, here’s how it worked: a pair of New York fashion experts (Stacey and Clinton) threw away all of their victim’s clothing, leaving him or her only enough to take on a New York shopping trip. They put the hapless soul up in a hotel in NYC, give them $5,000 to spend on clothes, and redid their hair and makeup as well.

Here’s part of an episode:

We don’t take our clients to New York or give them money for shopping. On the other hand, we don’t throw away their clothes, either.

Apart from these obvious dissimilarities, does a web site makeover have anything in common with a What Not to Wear makeover?

  • Stacy and Clinton take into account their victim’s preferences. Stacy and Clinton can be very harsh about the “before” wardrobe, saying things like, “Were you mauled by wild animals?” and, “Where did you get this — the stripper store?” However, they choose new gear that respects the victim’s preferences: people who love wild prints get wild prints and people who hate high heels get low heels. When you get a website makeover, you should get to keep the things you love about your current website. We’re working right now on a site whose owner wants a new website that still maintains a playful look, and she’s going to get a playful website.
  • Stacy and Clinton are big on appropriateness. They often chastise their subjects, saying, “Does this outfit belong in a courtroom?” or “No mom should wear a skirt this short!” We see a lot of websites that look a little shady or amateurish — and the company they represent turns out to be a major player in their space. If we’re astonished to learn that, you know their visitors aren’t getting an accurate idea of the organization. When you get a website makeover, you should make sure that your new design and content show the quality and stature of your company.
  • Stacy and Clinton pay attention to what their victims’ clothes are communicating. Sometimes a subject will protest that she likes her style — till Stacy and Clinton ask what kind of guy asks her out or how the people at work react to her clothing. A show about personal makeovers may seem to be about vanity, but often the result of the makeover is greater respect from other people and greater self confidence.

“Victims” is probably the wrong word. They might get some harsh insight into what they ought not to wear, but the subjects of the program ended up feeling happier with their new looks.

The website makeovers we’re doing right now will result in websites that look a lot different from the way they looked when we started. We think they’ll also result in websites that represent their owners in a much more positive light.

Does your website need a makeover? Call Rosamond at 479.966.9761. We’ll be happy to give you a free site analysis. We’re more diplomatic than Stacy and Clinton, but the transformations can be impressive.

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