Revised with new information as of September 13, 2005
When is a Web Upgrade Not Really an Upgrade?
The designer said he wanted to upgrade the nonprofit's web
site. He talked about the new software that would be used
to maintain the new web site, how he would make the site's
design more cutting edge, more "exciting", "integrated"
and "bundled," and would make the site easier for him to
maintain. The nonprofit staff listened quietly to his long
presentation with its many technical terms and fancy
graphics, and then staff began to ask questions:
- "Will we still be able to make text changes ourselves
and add new pages whenever we need to, or will we have to
contact you every time?"
- "Will simple text changes or page additions take just a few seconds, as they do now with our current web site, or will changes now take hours, days, even weeks?"
- "Will users still be able to download the pages
quickly, no matter what kind of browser they are using or
what kind of Internet access they have?"
- "Will bookmarks that users have already established for pages on our web site still work after this 'upgrade'?
Will page addresses change?"
- "If you stop working with us after this 'upgrade,' how easy will it be for the next person to take over
maintenance of this site?"
My point, and I do have one, is that what a web developer
may consider as an upgrade may actually be a major
obstacle that will impede the organization in serving its
constituencies. Making a web site more "cutting edge" from
a designer's point of view may not be easier, quicker or
better from a user's point of view or the point of view of
Web developers should remember that the goal of a
nonprofit organization's web site is to support the goals
of the organization and to communicate with the
nonprofits' primary constituencies on a sustainable,
meaningful basis. Developers need to be conscious and
respectful of not only this goal, but also, of the
organization's resources: don't just dazzle with the
latest technologies; build organization's capacity to use
and sustain what is developed for the company long after
you are gone.
For a similar lament, see the Tech4Impact article "The Demise of a Terrific Web Site".
Also see "When Newer Isn't Better," from NetAction Notes.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]