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:

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 the staff.

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.

Sermon over.

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.

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