"In fashion," says Kerry Clark, formerly an assistant designer at upscale clothing maker Nicole Miller, in New York City, "the eye is always growing tired. What it sees one season, it doesn't want to see the next." The same goes for Web sites, Clark says, only the "season" is shorter.

Management realized how true that was only after having paid a design firm $10,000 to build a Web site that company founder Nicole Miller later characterized as "crap." She quickly decided that the company should oversee the site's radical redesign.

The redesigned version, financed from the company's $1.2-million advertising budget, featured such interactive icons as TV screens with video clips of models dancing down a runway to hip music.

Clark objected to characterizing the change as a "makeover." That, she said, "implies a before and after rather than a continual evolution and growth with technology. A Web-site redesign is never really over. You never really figure it out. Just when you think you've created the coolest site in the world, you find out there's something even cooler."