Something that became very clear — both at the Carson Workshops Summit and at the many web app panels at South by Southwest — is that websites like these are never finished. Instead, the site evolves, growing (and occasionally dropping) features over time.
Traditionally, the mental model for websites has been architectural. Even the term itself, website, invites a construction site comparison. Plans are drawn up and approved, then the thing gets built, then it’s done.
That approach doesn’t apply to the newer, smarter websites that are dominating the scene today. Heck, it doesn’t even apply to older websites like Amazon and Google who have always been smart about constantly iterating changes.
Steve Balmer was onto something when he said “developers, developers, developers, ad nauseam”. Websites, like Soylent Green, are people. Without the people improving and tweaking things, the edifice of the site structure will crack.
I’m going to make a conscious effort to stop thinking about the work I do on the Web in terms of building and construction: I need to find new analogies from the world of biology.
Update: Paul Hammond told me via IM about a book called “How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built”. Maybe I don’t need to abandon the architectural analogies completely.