Friday, January 25, 2008

How a web site isn't like a house...

On Thursday, January 24, members of the School of Education, mStoner and the re.web project team gathered in Dean Virginia McLaughlin's office to discuss the SOE's web strategy. mStoner laid out their carefully-prepared plan and we talked about ideas, revisions, and the next steps in the process. It was an invaluable meeting.

Immediately before the web strategy presentation Ginnie McLaughlin and Tom Ward had had been discussing the School of Education's new building with architects and contractors; making final preparations before construction begins. I was struck by this dichotomy: the permanence of the building project and the constant transformation of the web project.

The re.web project is bringing about many lasting changes (our site's underlying architecture and W&M's model of web governance to name a few). If mistakes are made while creating something out of concrete and steel, those mistakes are going to live on for a very long time. A simple error can cost millions of dollars to fix. And poorly designed buildings pose a health risk to their inhabitants.

Now consider the web. Don't like a certain picture? Delete it. Obsolete font? Change it. A page is inaccurate or wrong? Update it. Naturally we should get things right the first time. Believe me, we are trying very hard to do just that. But it's comforting to know that if we are guilty of an oversight, it won't linger on for decades to come.

It's days like these I'm glad I'm a web developer.

-Posted by Joel Pattison... who believes the School of Education's new building is going to be amazing and completely free of oversights, thanks to the hard work and dedication of its future inhabitants.

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