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Modest ambitions

Last week's Japanese godfather sites were examples of the Famous Architect Website.

They were designed to serve as electronic shrines containing illustrations of the buildings, designs, exhibitions, products, the writing, the encomiums - in short the oeuvre complete plus a bit of hagiography and maybe the enunciation of a few design principles.

You can afford to do that when you are a certified star. Think Renzo, Norman, Richard and Rem. But if you appear less than six times a year in Architectural Review the idea of a shrine-like website is a tad pretentious, not to say ridiculous.

The trouble is that if you (mistakenly) see websites as electronic brochures you are likely to end up with something which looks like a shrine and people will poke fun at you. Print brochures are much easier to use than websites; no typing in names, no scratching heads about how to get past the Flash home-page animations and then, where to find the Back button and how to avoid the 'philosophy' page.

I'm coming round to the view that the best function an architectural website can have is no more than to get potential clients comfortable with the idea of working with you while you spend their millions over the next three years.

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