Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A New Project

I'm breaking my hiatus to start some occasional posts about a new project I am working on, or rather, with. It could seem different than earlier posts, but in a way it is not. I am working on a technology project now, the identity of which I would like to withhold for now. But it involves more than technology.

We are well past the point where brochureware will do. The kind of static web site that is still common with many religious organizations is almost worse than nothing. It's one real use, one hopes, is to lay some critical contact information out where Google might find it.

This problem is the result of what I think is a fundamental error: seeing the web page as merely another graphic document among many. This would mean, for most organizations, that a primary goal of web site creation is matching the graphic rules already created for all other documents. This results in design and markup that is concerned first with appearance and presentation, with tools designed first to control those aspects, no matter what chaos resulted in the underlying markup. You get the tyranny of the original designer, creating pages that are time consuming to maintain, which usually results in a site that is inconsistent and out of date. It also means that the typical "web designer" in many organizations has stronger skills in presentation than creating content.

The problem with that is that few people visit a web page because of cutting edge design, at least not more than once. Current, compelling, and accessible content, on the other hand, has always been effective. And effectiveness is just what we need these days, not better Flash driven landing pages.

Starting off, I want to lay out some basic ideas concerning:

  • interfaces between organizations and their environments;
  • the basic elements and constraints of web design;:
  • the role that web standards can and cannot play;
  • fundamental organization processes involved with web site maintenance;
  • web patterns and microformats relevant to this case.
No great essays or tomes here -- others have better things to say about this, and where appropriate I will link to them. Just some speculation and working notes.

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