Dorothea Salo just posted a really great piece about The dreaded redesign over at the TechEssence.Info blog. As my library’s web manager (who just finished a “minor” home page revision), I read this post with extreme interest. I really like Dorothea’s message about breaking down the web site to just content. Looking at sites this way should enable people to focus simply on the content and not get too bogged down in presentation (We often think about the presentation way too early in the design process – sometimes even let the design influence the content). The point about needing to weed material is important also. We often have a tendency to leave material on our web site forever once it is created. Weeding is always a difficult task, but I think it can help eliminate the problem of page bloat.
One of the best things that I got from this post is the idea that we need to be thinking about our sites in their entirety rather than on a page by page basis. Given time restraints, changes to library services, man-power issues and a whole host of other factors, we often have to edit pages without regard to how they fit into the overall picture. We have a design that may or may not work well for our current infrastructure. However, once we make changes to that infrastructure, our web site may become choppy. Things may start to lose their place and the overall design of the page starts to suffer. I personally do not think that this problem will go away until we start to think about how library decisions will impact our web site, our services and how we present material to our users (and get decent content management systems – we are not even close to this point where I work).
I’m really looking forward to the promised future posts about information-architecture tools and techniques. I find web site management to be one of the most challenging aspects of my job and really feel as if these types of discussions help me become better at it. Thanks for taking the time to write about this Dorothea!!