Today’s workshop “Building Websites From The Ground Up” has proven very valuable for us and I assume everyone else. We’ve had a range of diverse speakers from a wide range of backgrounds who have really covered building a website from the ground up from concept to delivery. Viveka kicked off the day with a hugely detailed presentation on the Victorian AIDS Council’s efforts to develop their new website. She let us into the finer details of the planning process including objectives, constraints, assumptions and a lot, lot more. The key thing to take away from their experience, I think, is that documentation and planning has to be paramount in the process of developing a site, if you’re to end up with what you want! Also critical to the process was ensuring Government accessibility standards were met and that the staff were adequately trained in using the new software backend (Drupal). Have a look at their site which was launched late last year – great effort! http://www.vicaids.asn.au
Following on from Viveka’s presentation we had Andrew Johnson from FII who detailed a developer’s perspective on processes and jobs very similar to Viveka’s. He really emphasised the personal aspect to developing a website, encouraging looking at the task as developing a relationship between the developer and the organisation you (they’re) developing for. Returned to frequently was the idea that it was a good idea to actually like the client you’re working for. If you don’t…consider not taking the job! FII are big on Joomla which is great to see. They’ve got a range of projects on the go and we can recommend checking out their site! http://www.footefrancis.com.au
If that wasn’t enough (and it could have been) Gary Barber from Radharc weighed in on all things Information Architecture. Detailed, to say the least! He offered suggestions on how to better survey and study a userbase so that more appropriate development decisions could be made. He also showed us multiple ways of considering content, how we might look at it differently and how we might spot patterns. Surprisingly, something as mundane as sorting cards turned out to be a great way (through discussion, not necessarily the final arrangement of the cards!) to organise information in way everyone can understand or at least is happy with. Survey, observations, interviews, analytics! Details about these and more can be found at Gary’s site http://www.radharc.com.au
A slightly re-arranged schedule and a relateively relaxed atmosphere after lunch resulted in an expert’s panel on web content management systems. Joomla, Wordpres and Drupal all represented (Silverstripe gets a mention), the importance of keeping ALL of your web software up-to-date was reiterated by myself a few times. Seriously, you’ll get hacked if you don’t stay up to date. Andrew and Vivecka got to field followup questions from an engaged audience and everyone seemed pretty satisfied.
Following afternoon tea an enthusiastic/passionate discussion about domain names in Australia and abroad ensued. Darrell’s position on the auDA policy review panel allowed everyone to get a bit of insight into the domains industry and the history that preceeded it’s current state. Do .com.aus get more traffic? Are they more appropriate than asn.au? What would happen if Australia’s domain policy ended up matching the American free-for-all? There were a range of diverse opinions and everyone came away with something to think about…
Overall a very valuable day and we’re glad we attended! This is actually an event that runs prior to Making Links 2010 proper which of course we’ll be attending. We’ll continue the coverage here and of course you can follow the Twitter stream at #ml10 http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23ml10