“A Website? Yeah, We Got One Of Those”

Dilbertwebdesigncartooncomicde

Some people look at a website as a necessary evil that has to be completed to keep up with current trends.  To them a website is something that gets done, the box gets ticked and that’s it taken care of. They get a website because everyone else has one and it seems like the right thing to do. They don’t have a better reason than that.

The information they put on the website is copied directly out of their latest brochures complete with company history and mug shots. The site goes live and they tick the box.

Organizations like this never get any business from their website and they don’t deserve to.

Linda Caroll has a great piece on her site titled “Why Websites Fail” : http://www.lindacaroll.com/why-websites-fail.html

It’s not surprising to find that the town’s website hits every single point bang on.

There were some great questions in Richard Johnson’s recent letter to the Auroran regarding the town’s website.  I have attached it here:

V10N15P06.pdf
Download this file

I have some additional points that I feel need exploring.

Issues with the landing page:

1.) There is an image and link to “Aurora 2009 year of business”.  It’s the 2nd month into 2010, do we not have an initative for 2010?  Does the town not circulate calendars?

2.) The image of the “price of Wales prize” is still posted incorectly.  I have already commented on the crude bastardization of the Price of Wales plumes in an earlier post, and to the Auroran.  not to mention that it’s over 2 years old.  Don’t we have a more recent accomplishment we can showcase?  Clinging on to past accomplishments makes the town look desperate.

3.) The Code of Conduct complaint pertaining to the July 21, 2009 that was ruled on by the former integrity commissioner is still on the landing page.  If there is no outstanding business from the old integrity commissioner why is it still on the site?

Issues with the menu:

1.) The first menu item is labeled “Mayor & council”.  When expanded the first 5 items have to do with the mayor.  Members of council is the 8th item.  Why is the town showcasing the mayor and not the council as a whole?

2.) The menu item for maps does not include the “Downtown Aurora Parking” map, considering how important it is for citizens as the mayor claims why is it not listed?

Having built websites and been involved heavily in Information Architecture and User Experience Design over the last 15 years I can safely say that approaching a communication tool as valuable as a website doesn’t require rocket science, but it does require that arrogance be checked at the door.

I’m particularly fond of referring to the following diagram when discussing effective web design:

Website_organization_1b

Take a look again at the town’s website after looking at the diagram.  Whoever designed it and maintains it is obviously unfamiliar with such a concept.

As we are accustomed to our mayor micromanaging the town staff I can only imagine a meeting regarding the website going something like this: 

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