One question that comes to mind as I read the excellent UIE article The Freedom of Fast Iterations: How Netflix Designs a Winning Web Site the question comes to mind, what would have Netflix looked like if a big interactive agency had been involved? I Imagine it would have become an expensive, glossy, marketing web site selling people on the benefits of getting dvd’s in the mail. I think the reason this is a likely scenario is because the way agencies are compensated and judged it pays for them to create something glossy and expensive. Agencies are judged on the “deliverable”, the artifact they hand over, not how that site grows and flourishes over the course of years. People spending hundreds of thousands of dollars with an interactive agency want something delivered on day 1 that looks like it’s worth that money. Take for example The Coke Show, a very polished youtube-like contest that ran on the front page of Coke for a a month or two and got about a dozen entries.
Another question, are there any “fast iteration” agencies out there? The equivalent of IDEO for the web?
On a related note Peter Merholtz of Adaptive Path (who I had the pleasure of meeting for drinks the other night) wrote an interesting article that is somewhat related called Embrace the chaos – designers and systems with emergent behavior.
UPDATE: Don’t miss the great conversation that is going on at the UIE Brainsparks blog, great stuff