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Web Content Development (or herding cats). John Fritz December 12, 2000. If architects worked like web developers . Dear Mr. Architect,

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Web Content Development (or herding cats)

John Fritz

December 12, 2000


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If architects worked like web developers

  • Dear Mr. Architect,

    Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. . . .(full text)


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What is web content?

  • Text

  • Images

  • Audio

  • Video

    • Anything that meets a user’s information needs.


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Planning/Research

Look at Users & Sponsors

Design

Testing

Production

Launch

Promotion

Evaluation

Planning/Research

What is web development?


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Sample Web Development Processes

  • Carton Donofrio Interactive

    http://www.cdinteractive.com/expertise/process.cfm

  • Razorfish

    http://www.razorfish.com/

    see “process”


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Web Content Report

Web Content Report is a monthly newsletter of tips and tactics for creating effective web sites (www.ragan.com/wcr).

  • Report Card is a recurring section evaluating websites.


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WCR “Report Card” Criteria

  • Strategic focus. Does the site present the organization effectively? Does it have goals, or does the site seem like it was thrown together because creating a Web site is the thing to do? Do its goals seem to make sense for the organization and does the information at the site further those goals? Is it clear who the site targets and why?


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WCR “Report Card” Criteria

  • Content. Is the site worth coming back to? Does the site have an effective strategy for luring viewers back? Is it using the medium effectively? Any unique content or interactive features?


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WCR “Report Card” Criteria

  • Navigation. Is it easy to see what's in the site and move around to it? Are users likely to understand where they are within a site, or are they going to become lost or hit dead ends? Any unique navigation ideas like linking relevant content?


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WCR “Report Card” Criteria

  • Design. Does the site have a distinct look and feel? Does the personality of the site fit the organization's image and further its strategic goals? Is the site pleasing to the eye and is information easy to read? If the site offers bells and whistles such as Java or Shockwave, does it use them effectively or are they distracting and causing users to bail? How long are download times?


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12/2000 “Report Card” Sites

  • City of Alexandria (A-)

    • http://www.ci.alexandria.va.us

  • Knox College (C)

    • http://www.knox.edu

  • Ford Motor Company (C-)

    • www.ford.com

  • American Massage Therapy Association (B+)

    • http://www.amtamassage.org


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WCR Report Card

  • Using the web is usually a solitary exercise. We rarely do it in groups, but we learn from each other’s tastes what is or isn’t helpful in supporting real users’ information needs.

  • Reading WCR’s “Report Card” gives us a way to talk about websites that can be supported by facts & inferences.


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Further Reading

  • “The Middlemen of Content,” 9/25/2000 NY Times.

  • Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen, New Riders Publishing (2000)

  • Collaborative Web Development: Strategies and Best Practices for Web Teams by Jessica Burdman, Addison Wesley (1999).

  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld & Peter Morville, O’Reilly & Associates (1998)


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Closing Thought: What It’s Like to be A Web Content Developer

It reminds me of being a radio DJ. You just talk with no idea of who's listening and what they think about what you're saying. When you develop web content, aside from web stats, etc. most of the time you've got no idea how it's received. This forces content creators, I think, to really develop a sense for the voice and mission of the site for which they are writing...and just go with it, feeling confident that it's what the people want.

Keeping up with the constant deadlines of a website is quite an undertaking. Web content

developers don't have the luxury of a monthly, daily or even hourly deadline. It's constant, and frustrating. The dynamic nature of the Internet is both its greatest strength and most aggravating quality. To stream or not to stream, to flash or not to flash... How does a content developer decide how far to go with available technology to ensure that all the eyeballs are in the right place and not closed out because they don't have the right

plug-in?

Charlie Melichar, UMBC Director of Media Relations & Webmaster, www.prsamd.org


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