Should web sites start with single minded propositions?

I used to work in advertising. There was a belief that great advertising was inspired by great propositions which in turn was a distillation of a strategy i.e. how are we going to get people to think/behave differently? It stood up. In most cases the best ideas were the simplest.

Propositions have come under fire in recent years as media has fragmented and the linear process of advertising has been challenged. Ad folk increasingly didn't like the idea of being hemmed in by a single thought and instead preferred the fast and loose approach that folk in other media seemed to take.

I now work in digital media and have rarely seen propositions in the way I did in advertising specifically in the area of web site design and build. Don't get me wrong, substantial thought goes into the development of sites. Their development produces an impressive volume of work in the form of strategy, user experience, design and technical specifications but rarely is a single-minded proposition in evidence. Received wisdom was that this level of reductive thinking, in getting to a pithy purpose, was simply redundant as the site needed to be so many different things to so many different people. Plus clients thought you were nuts for suggesting a site needed to stand for one thing.

However, over the last 12 months I have seen a resurgence in the idea of a single minded proposition when applied to the development of web sites. Why this is so I won't speculate here but I wondered whether anyone else felt there had been a shift towards single-mindedness and simplicity in purpose and execution.

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