Revised with new information as of September 13, 2005


 
The Demise of a Terrific Web Site
 
It was a terrific web site by a nonprofit organization. It had a simple, easy-to-use design and was packed with information. It was quick to download and to navigate. It was a wealth of information, and a much-used and much-needed resource. Many web sites linked to it, I referred others regularly to it, and I noticed other people referring to it on various online discussion groups.

And this web site is, for the most part, gone. The new web master, or the new executive director, or the new consultant, or the new corporate "partner" -- often people with no nonprofit management experience -- decided to change this very successful site completely, to give it a more "cutting edge" design, which makes the site quite hard to use; to drop several of its popular pages and features ("we need to streamline!"), much to the dismay of people who needed and wanted that information; to add bandwidth-hungry graphics and coding, and even to change the URL of the entire site ("We need a better brand!"), which means hundreds of links to the site no longer work, and the site is now hard to find, or hidden under an unnecessary layer ("we've moved!").

Which web site am I talking about? Five are coming immediately to my mind. I'm sure I could think of a dozen more if I thought more about. Which ones were you thinking of?

The point of this is that, while responding to changing situations and circumstances is important, completely changing a web site for the sake of something "new," or because someone from the for-profit sector tells you to, is not. Your mission and program content should drive the mission and content of your web site. Always.

Lament over.

For a similar lament, see the Tech4Impact article "When is a Web Upgrade Not Really an Upgrade?"

Also see "When Newer Isn't Better," from NetAction Notes.

 

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