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Kruger Rant
A post by one of fandom's great organizers, kevin_standlee, reminded me of one of my pet peeves. Fandom is filled with great artists and technical professionals, and yet we have what I feel are some of the least appealing and most unfriendly web pages out there. Yes, I know it makes is a bit of a sod to say it, and I apologize up front to those of you who put in long hours working on web pages that I'm about to criticize. But here's the thing, I think this is an important enough issue to speak up about.

There are many standout web pages of course, but for many others the design, usability, appearance, professionalism, etc, of fannish pages generally is inadequate or even completely lacking, by current standards and often even by any standard. In particular I find that the web presence associated with our most treasured institutions (Worldcon, The Hugo Award and WSFS) is amongst the weakest of all.

kevin_standlee was annoyed by people not simply reading the information on the WSFS page. He is of course right, but on the other hand, I would argue that they should not have to. We should make things easier to browsers, just as any well designed web page out there does. It's not just about the information anymore, it's about finding it. And this is a simple example and yes Google finds everything and it is right there on most every page, but even I missed it on my first skim through.

Years ago I created a web page with a ton of useful information on it. My design sucked, and in point of fact it was the same kind of design as the primary pages I refer to. As a result many people struggled to navigate my page, despite its simple layout. I therefore received a greater number of emails with questions. As I later learned, I could have spared myself much of that by simply improving my web design (you will never eradicate stupid emails because the world is full of the dilly and the lazy).

Beyond fixing the poor layout of these pages, I believe that anyone visiting these pages should find themselves looking at something professional. Why should anyone browsing to find out more about Worldcons, the Hugos or WSFS take them seriously if we appear to be treating it like someone's pet project? I say this because they look like simple web pages done by hand, not even ones using tools like Dreamweaver or FrontPage (edit: in the sense that an amateur with no HTML knowledge can use tools like these to create more professional web pages, not in the sense that I recommend any cookie-cutter solutions, which I don't). I don't see anything elegant or prestigious about them. All three of these institutions have great value and prestige and I think their web pages should reflect that.

Finally, there is no recognizable symbol or logo for any of these three. We have never branded ourselves (I'm going to use words derived from "brand" in the design sense, not the corporate sense, so no, this is not an attempt to create something like Worldcon Inc). One can't stick a Worldcon logo in a newspaper/magazine article, unless one picks a specific year's own logo. Not even in a fannish publication. Publishers can't put a Hugo logo on reprints books (or anything) that have won the Hugo. Winners can't add a Hugo banner to their web pages. People who want to link to any of these pages can't do so with a striking banner. There is no unifying symbol for Worldcons, which are held in different cities every year. None of these web pages or institutions has anything distinctive about them. I believe we need them to have this distinction, primarily for the Hugo, secondarily for Worldcons and also for the WSFS.

In short I believe we should tap into the resources at our disposal and fix these pages. For example, many people in fandom now know that agrathea is a professional web designer and yet nobody has tapped into her skills. More to the point I believe it will add to what we hold most dear, in prestige, interest, visibility, marketability, etc, and it would be a visible representation of our own reverence for those aspects of fandom most precious to us. And it would bring us up to date... the future we can tackle next.

And not to merely be a complainer without a solution, I can offer this: agrathea is a professional designer who specializes in web design and branding. She volunteers (in the fannish sense of volunteering) to brand all three of these institutions and to do a formal web design for them (including possibly having a non-tech content management). This is no small thing I assure you and it represents an enormous amount of work. The logos could be designed as part of contests, but the judges should include people familiar with design work, as great artwork does not necessarily equate to a great logo that can be used in both the print world and the web world. Regardless of how it is handled I believe it should be done, by someone.

Yes, I'm not so naïve as to believe any of this will be easy and I know that many fans would be concerned with several aspects of this. And there are many questions: Who would approve the design and branding? The MPC? The smofs list? One of the twenty-seven thousand mythical secret cabals? Would this make us an Inc by osmosis? (I believe NOT because it is simply souping up our image and need not go any further, semantics about the word "branding" aside.) Who would maintain the pages? I could go on, but enough for now.

I feel we can and should do far better. I Also think it is in our best interests to do so. Am I full of it?

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94 comments or Leave a comment
johnnyeponymous From: johnnyeponymous Date: February 15th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
You're absolutely right, though a lot of the folks who have the great talents at webpagery also do it for a living and aren't exactly thrilled at the idea of doing so in their fan life.

A clear site is a wonderful thing, and the offer is a great one that I hope someone will take advantage of.

I've got little to say bad about the current WSFS site because it's pretty clear, just not very attractive and certainly not as comprehensive as it should be. In fact, design isn't really too much of the problem, it's more getting the right content adn that's usually the harder part to make happen.
thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 15th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree, though I also think we should do more to make these pages look elegant, and behave that way too.
kevin_standlee From: kevin_standlee Date: February 15th, 2007 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
FWIW, there is a committee trying to work on an official Hugo Award logo. I'm going to point the committee at your post.
thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 15th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, you mentioned this committee to me before. I would love to have been involved myself.
kevin_standlee From: kevin_standlee Date: February 15th, 2007 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Another thought I've had is that regular Worldcon attendees -- in particular the SMOF types who populate the Business meeting -- strike me as being highly resistant to anything that would even hint at a common identity for Worldcons. A WSFS logo such as the "White Star Federated Spacelines" logo we made for use with Interaction was met with cool disdain from people who would in practical terms have to approve of such use. A common Worldcon logo? No matter how much you say otherwise, you'd get a bunch of "WSFS Inc! To the barricades, comrades!" reaction.

Individual Worldcon committees are immensely jealous of their prerogatives, and many of them tend to think of their own immediately concerns long before thinking of the Worldcon as a whole. Many of them don't really even care about Worldcon as a whole -- the rest of the society can go pound sand for all they care. It's a very Balkanized situation, really.

Oh, you get individual conrunners who have the ecumenical attitude -- I've tried to be one of those -- but even on our own committee for 2002, I found people who thought of ConJose as a big one-shot with not connection at all to its predecessors and successors. While that's true in a legal sense, it should not be so in a moral and social one.
bovil From: bovil Date: February 15th, 2007 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
That's something you get everywhere. Bruce and Nora from the CC25 committee tried to do a co-branding thing, but they weren't terribly capable of selling the idea (they weren't capable of selling the idea to us because we already had "here's where CC is going to be the next few years" fliers and have revised them three times as the years passed).

I'm wondering, though, if (like we were talking about hugo nominator/voter lists) it wouldn't be worth suggesting that departments start thinking in terms of the "pass along" model to develop traditions of greater cooperation and mutual support.
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boywhocantsayno From: boywhocantsayno Date: February 15th, 2007 07:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree wholeheartedly with you. The WSFS pages are ugly - even I could do better after my one class. They look like they were created in 1995 and have since only been updated with additions to the lists of Worldcons and Hugo winners.

My only point of disagreement is your suggestion that a website needs to be designed using something like Dreamweaver or Frontpage. I had to use Frontpage for my class, but I'm just as happy to write my code in Notepad.

I'm not terribly fond of our design for Polaris this year either, but I'm not in that department and so I have no influence (and not much can be done about it anyway, since it's a template from a content management program that they started using this year).

As far as people not being able to find things on the WSFS page, site maps are an essential item that don't get used as often as they should be, IMHO.
gurudata From: gurudata Date: February 15th, 2007 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

My only point of disagreement is your suggestion that a website needs to be designed using something like Dreamweaver or Frontpage.

boywhocantsayno and I are 100% on the same wavelength on this one. One does not need to use such evil tools to get an attractive and functional web design. Notepad/pico/vi can still churn out excellent web designs. The key is with the coder, not the tool.

supergee From: supergee Date: February 15th, 2007 10:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I am of course in favor of making information easy to obtain, but I think of fandom as a subculture that doesn't give a shit about appearance, and I'm happy if our sites give that impression.
thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 15th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with your sentiment to a point, but not on these points, because at the same time as we have these feelings we also want Worldcon and The Hugo Award to be respected and I don't think these two approaches are entirely compatible, certainly to the degree that the average 13-year-old has a better web page. However your point has much merit and I certainly think that the designer needs to be concerned about how fans feel, act and behave. I have talked about this with agrathea -- in fact she brought it up to me. I know we fans don't want these pages to look like a corporate page, but I do think we do want them to look an awful lot better. The whole idea of getting a professional designer involved at any time is to get someone to create a web presence for you that feels like you/your group and reflects you, and by extension the goal would be to do something similar for us.
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bigblued From: bigblued Date: February 15th, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Kevin already mentioned that there is a committee looking into a Hugo logo so I will address the web side of the discussion.

First thing, the sites you point out are not bad, really. They are plain to look at but present the information in the simplest, cleanest, way possible. Believe it or not, this is at (a segment of) fandom's request. We have people out there who cling to their 486s like a life raft and will not look at the web with anything but a text viewer. They will scream holy heck if you present your info with anything resembling style because then they can't access it. It's a really tight dance trying to make something look good, and be as close to plain text as possible, so it's just easlier on the volunteer to err on the side of caution.

Also, most of the volunteers tend to be more geek than creative. Most of the people I know who do con sites can do amazing things with code but don't know the first thing about graphic design. Which is fine, as long as the information is there and presented in a logical manner.

Two side points,
1) no geek worth their salt would even touch Front Page. I couldn't write code to save my life, but I can read it, and the code generated by FP makes my skin crawl. It is seriously overloaded with unnecessary junk and it makes pages that often don't work outside of IE.
2) to see some really bad web page design, go to webpagesthatsuck.com I used to use their site as a tool when teaching Web Design & Usibility classes. After you look at what they consider bad you will discover that the the WSFS page is a model of clean sensible design.
thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 15th, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the plain web pages, there is a balance, but it can be found, including having a mirrored text version of the page. However I feel the argument still stands. Right now agrathea is working on a web solution for an international non-profit group who want a web presence that is compatible with older browser versions (which you would find on older PCs) and many of their clients will be worse off than these fans you mention, but even they want their page to have a designed look and feel. Not for a moment are they, or any of their competitors, considering making their web presence exist at the lowest possible level.

A better example is Google. How simple is Google? But is that an accident? No. The interface was designed. A designer can still come up with something simple, but far better.

And while the sites are not bad, they certainly do not reflect anything close to the prestige we ourselves attribute to them and nor to that make information easily accessible. But certainly an artist as talented as yourself likely has many thoughts on ways they could be improved?

On FrontPage -- I agree and I've never met a professional web developer who uses it. As I explained above my point was only that a novice without HTML knowledge could create a better page than the ones we have. I added an edit to that effect.

On webpagesthatsuck.com (cool link BTW), if you go to their "Does My Web Site Suck?" checklists then you'll see we fare quite poorly (Checklist 1 and Checklist 2). I think we should be comparing ourselves to the other end of the spectrum.
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thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 15th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Web Pages

There is a lot to be said for how our current approach is NOT reaching out to compatible fans out there who would love to be members of our cons. I've heard many fans go on about how they dismissed us as a serious entity after seeing our web presence. Nothing about our web presence suggested that the cons we put on would be well run. In fact they suggested the opposite.

I do know from personal experience that there are cons out there with someone clinging to their power base, but I have to say that in most cases I have seen, given the sheer workload of the con web page, they are just using whoever they can find to volunteer to do it. Many cons would quickly snatch up a designer who volunteered. But a designer will not fix their problems, unless they want to be web master as well. ArmadilloCon is lucky to have you, for a host of reasons.

I love your current ArmadilloCon theme BTW.
kevin_standlee From: kevin_standlee Date: February 15th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
The comments you've received so far are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the near-religious fervor that people in fandom can express when it comes to web pages. Numerous rounds of being flamed by people for using any web development tool or including anything except plain text in a web site makes people leery of trying to do anything. Oh, and there are also security-obsessed web hosts who make it nearly impossible to do anything using modern development tools; ask Cheryl sometime if you want an earful about that. Since a lot of fannish sites are hosted for free, you have to put up with whatever conditions the host imposes on you.

(I use Dreamweaver to maintain the SFSFC site, but Cheryl did the initial design. Also, I'm not trying to do anything too ambitious there; I don't have the skills for it or the time to acquire them.)

Don't get too discouraged. I'm just telling you realistically what the challenges we face are likely to be. However, I do know that the HASH committee established at last year's Business Meeting (technically, it's a subcommittee of the Mark Protection Committee) has seen your posting and is discussing it. And the WSFS web site certainly could use work; almost everyone (except the anti-design crowd) agrees that this is so.
thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 15th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have answered every comment. I know some fans will object to any approach, no matter what. Such is our nature (I'm doing my objecting now to something many are happy with). However the fact is one of our biggest issues is how we are not attracting enough new fans. Well let me ask you (or anyone reading this) this, when you go out on the web and see a web page that is horrible, does that give you confidence in a group? The reverse, right? If you were someone interested in cons or who might be interested if you had any concept of what they were like, and you saw our web presence (with the aforementioned exceptions of course), would you think our cons were organized? Would you think us capable of some of the little miracles we actually regularly pull out of our hats? Would you even think us competent?

It has to be said that fans have a far higher number of tech-oriented people in their midst and such people would turned off by our web presence, even when they might love our cons. The current web presence suits only those who are already in fandom (and even then, not nearly all of us) and is unfriendly to most others. This does not help us to overcome some of our biggest issues, like the graying of fandom or dwindling membership numbers for many cons.

On security issues one has to remember that the web is filled with well-designed secure web pages. The issue of free-hosting is a big one, but surely there are those out there with the willingness to help? Regardless I don't believe that a web page with CSS code in it for design purposes is going to be any less secure than an HTML one.

On FrontPage I answered that too as I was making a different point and worded it badly. I don't ever want to use FrontPage and I certainly don't advocate it. Dreamweaver OTOH is a marvelous product.

I thank you for your encouragement. Not to worry though, I've been involved with fandom too long and I knew I'd get my butt kicked some. I even like that because it ensures that all voices are heard. However I will not be shouted down. I believe strongly that we need something like this and I'm going to push it. Fandom at large may ignore me, but I'll at least be heard and it can then be said that the issue has been raised and ignored.
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agrathea From: agrathea Date: February 15th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
After reading some comments regarding logo design for things like Worldcon and the different reasons people are likely to resist such a thing, it brings to mind another reason I think having a logo/brand is important. I think maybe people could see it as supporting other events, but trying to give Worldcon an easily accessible public face is actually better for all Worldcons, because it is going to, over time, help to improve visibility for the idea of Worldcon. To invest in such an effort could be considered a selfish one for those promoting their own Worldcon, because what's good for the goose is good for the gander (or maybe it's vice versa in this case?)

I'm a newbie to the con scene, and if it hadn't been for the fact that I had a boyfriend heavily engaged in cons, I never would have found Worldcon of my own accord, or even understood how it was organized. A brand shouldn't be seen as a thing to dilute the goals of Worldcons as a whole or as individual events, but as an umbrella. Not all brands are about commercial ends alone, they can equally be about a value statement and a sort of organizational flag. As an outsider who was almost completely lost as a con-going fan and almost never brought into the fold, I can see how many fans never find the mecca because of a lack of coherency in the marketing of Worldcons. If you make things more easily accessible/understood to random fans who don't have the advantage of friends in the know to bring them in, and more appealing and inviting to boot, you're going to increase con attendance, which seems a common goal to all cons, if my impressions are correct. I still have fan friends who I couldn't encourage to attend with me, because the con scene still has this odd unpolished appearance to the general world, and even scifi/fantasy fans have a hard time seeing the value. I think it's because cons make a misplaced effort in reaching out to people, forgetting that this is a world of an inundation of information; as a self-professed geek, I remember seeing all-text ads for cons in the past and having a sense that there wasn't much to what happened at a con as a result, despite what a more in-depth reading might have revealed (an unfortunate side effect of living in a media-rich world). Granted, this is when I was younger, but even now (and this could be my designer bias), I have a hard time taking a business that doesn't invest in marketing very seriously. I think that might be the general view, yes, even amongst intelligent, aware fans. Now that I have been at cons I see how cool they are on so many levels, and how a few marketing projects could show the fan world at large how cool the Worldcon scene is. (cont'd)
agrathea From: agrathea Date: February 15th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
A good designer is going to keep the goals and values of the organization at the forefront in helping to shape a brand image. It doesn't have to be about making a "Worldcon Inc." And it doesn't have to mean that con-runners can't have a distinct con from others. It just means that those people who would be inclined to go to a fan-run event because it had the overarching values of Worldcon will more easily be able to find Worldcons and will be more inclined to invest their time and money in attending.

It's also harder to get the attention of younger fans, and marketing just has to be considered for the culture to survive.

On the note of web page design, I agree that keeping a site clean to make it widely accessible is very important (i.e. Google), but also something a good web designer can do. You can make a visually attractive, clean site where it is easier to find information as a result of the design efforts, that breaks down elegantly in older browsers, or is coded semantically so as to be easily viewed in a text only mode or accessible to the blind.

There are certainly some tough interests and biases that complicate the matter, but at the core the health of the institution of cons and fan organizations needs to be put on a high priority, and realities need to be evaluated and responded to instead of resisted due to long held assumptions or biases. What I love about fandom is that those who are a part of it are generally progressive and willing to take on huge challenges, and I think maybe (and I note that my perspective is still significantly as that of an outsider--or at the very least a relative newbie) that this adventurous and questioning nature needs to be employed more where fan-event marketing is concerned. Adopting a brand is not selling out, it's a public face for a mission. And there are all sorts of fans, and some of them are going to need to be reached out to in ways that may be different from what fandom is used to doing. Creating attractive marketing materials, done intelligently, does not mean tossing the desires of the fans who want a clean site out the window. You just adopt a broader approach that satisfies the basic needs of everyone. And maybe creating a Worldcon brand could encourage individual cons to think more in terms of a whole, too, to consistantly be reminded they are part of something bigger, the relative health of which needs to be preserved to keep Worldcon as lively in 2070 as it is in 2007.

In business, the companies that say, "Well, Precious, if they doesn't like the way we does things, then they can go elsewhere, Precious," usually doesn't bode well for that business.

I do think a lot of the way of doing things has been adopted out of necessity, and relative accessibility of resources, so I don't poo poo what exists. But, quite frankly, I feel like I have made my experience and time quite publicly available to fan causes for a year now, and very few in the relevant positions have actually pursued using me. So it does cause me to wonder how much of it is connected to availability of resources, and how much of it is a resistance to change.

I had an excellent time working with avt_tor on the potential Chicago Con website, and through collaboration we had no problem meeting a variety of needs in our work. It was a great example of how the good qualities of fandom could be harnessed to create something elegant and functional. And I know, had it gone live, we would have been able to do even more. And that doesn't mean just overloading the page with long downloads and unnecessary gibberish. It means working towards clean, easy to understand navigation, good site organization, quality content, and wider accessibility. Is that really so awful?
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orangemike From: orangemike Date: February 16th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Part of the problem is the language. Terms like "marketing" and "branding" are tainted by association with the vile reek of Madison Avenue insincerity, so there is a knee-jerk reaction to them which you have to lead people past. (And some of us, as Arthur implied, are purely text-oriented people, so visuals strike us as a waste of good bandwidth). But I am glad this conversation is going on, and would be eager to help (at least as a beta tester) any way I could.
thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 16th, 2007 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)
You are quite correct of course, and I knew that. That is why in my text I avoided as many of those words as I could, but I'm not sure what to call them otherwise. I just want us to give prestige to the things we attribute our greatest reverence too, regardless of the semantics.

I have seen agrathea working with a client who wanted a logo that broke all the rules. She tried to reason with the client but the client insisted on the complexity she wanted. In the end agrathea found the most elegant way she could of accomplishing the task and the client was delighted -- to such a degree that their final product exceeded their wildest expectations. However agrathea knew it was far from ideal. I mention this story to highlight that agrathea is a professional and is not going to impose anything on fans. She is going to listen to everyone's comments, possibly tell us if she thinks we are on the wrong track, but in the end she will aim to deliver something that suits us and will not seek to impose anything on anyone. In a sense she will be professional in how she makes us look unprofessional ;). I kid, but I really want what is best for us, whatever the buzzwords or terminology.

Oh, on the bandwidth and visuals, one of the things a professional web designer does is keep all that to a minimum and to ensure what is there loads as quickly and efficiently as possible. But as I said elsewhere, for those who don't want it we can maintain a simple text-based version as well. And beta-testing? Time will tell if any of this even happens. I sure hope so. Bet you want us to have an orange logo ;).
avt_tor From: avt_tor Date: February 16th, 2007 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
The real difficulty is that nobody wants to take responsibility for making a decision, so things are done simply in a maintenance mode, which can be done without management decisions. The decisions belong, IMO, first to the current seated Worldcon committee (and I'm sure you see the problem there) and second, to the Mark Protection Committee. A Worldcon or WSFS logo would certainly have to be approved by MPC.

Unfortunately I think that bad web sites fall into the category of "if it's done twice it's a tradition". There are technical, artistic, and organizational challenges in fixing this. A few of us understand the technical issues, an even smaller number of us understand the artistic issues, and the basic organizational challenge is a lack of leadership, which seems very deeply entrenched.

Hypothetically, the decisions that would need to be made would be something like this:

1. MPC could decide to have a WSFS logo. They could have a competition to select a logo, as is sometimes done for Hugo bases.

2. The seated Worldcon committee would have to say "maintaining these web sites is our responsibility, we're going to revamp them, and if the next committee wants to change them, that's their right too". Then the committee picks a good web designer or team to implement a new design.

As I'm not on MPC or a seated Worldcon executive, this kind of isn't my problem. The discussion probably belongs on the SMOFS list.
the_magician From: the_magician Date: February 16th, 2007 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Anyone can make a proposal to the worldcon business meeting (there are rules but there are many people who delight in explaining them!)

So, at Japan, have someone show up with a Worldcon logo and a proposal that this logo be accepted as the one true Worldcon logo and that all future Worldcons be required to feature it at least once in their website and once on each publication, perhaps next to the necessary trademark wording.

If it is accepted at Japan (possibly with amendments to change some of the requirements) then in 2008 it can be ratified and would apply to all future Worldcons ...

... that's one approach anyway, and it's the quickest that the Worldcon can "force" any future worldcon to do anything ... or just present a fantastic logo now and hope that Japan and 2008 decide to use it and that it then carries on by tradition (until such time as the business meeting mandates its use).

Or not.
dd_b From: dd_b Date: February 16th, 2007 07:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I see two basic issues being raised.

Branding -- my advice here is simple: don't even think about it. It's far too close to the third rail of Worldcon politics. Any attempt to impose consistency across years will be very actively resisted.

"Improving" web sites -- I've been a professional web developer myself (back to real software engineering at the moment, mostly). (I've only got one ongoing web contract right now, but I'm also teaching a course on it at a local community college, so I'm thinking about it a lot right now.) The "Worldcon" and "Hugo" websites are basic, but they contain actual information, in pretty much the right order, easy to find. Your reference to pages done "by hand" as inferior to pages done in Dreamweaver makes me laugh -- no good page I've ever seen was done in Dreamweaver (never mind Frontpage). All the best pages are done by hand. Dreamweaver is sometimes useful for prototyping things quickly, but the final result as posted has never, in my experience, come out of any GUI HTML editor.
thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 16th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the branding, well I see a strong need for it and the politics of the issue don't really concern me. Sure I'll get my butt kicked, but I'm going to say it none the less because I think it's important, and I’ve highlighted my reasons all over this thread.

On FrontPage, as I've said elsewhere, it's not a suggestion and in fact I’d be dead set against it. I was merely pointing out that any novice with software like this could come up with something better designed. I clearly disagree with your assertion that those pages are well designed. Checking any web design checklist, like one brought up on this thread, quickly shows the many ways these pages fail.

On Dreamweaver, if you meant using templates to make pages, well then we both agree. Template approaches are for amateurs. However, if you meant that the package itself is terrible well I'm boggled by your statement. I do not have your web development experience and I’m sure I could learn much from you, but I’m rapidly building up a circle of friends who have many years of web development experience. As a result I'd say the exact opposite was true. At the very least the product will save you time, even if all you do is use the post-coding tools (expanded on slightly elsewhere in this post). Until recently I was doing a lot of html and PHP in a text editor, but it only took a 5-minute walkthrough on Dreamweaver for m to see how much better my productivity would be if I moved on.

Portland is filled with design firms and I've gotten to know a lot of designers in a short amount of time. Some of the web pages I've seen have been simply incredible, ranging from the clean and simple through the arty and stunning (but still fast). Most of those designers are using Dreamweaver, and the rest are using competing packages – but not text editors. Additionally most of the programmers are using some kind of software -- Dreamweaver in many cases, other tools for some -- and the same is true of the few developer jobs I’ve looked into so far. Hell even the Linux users group guys use some for of editor, though they argue endlessly about which one is best.

And it makes sense to me. I have limited web experience, but I have been a developer and programmer for almost 20 years, doing most jobs in our field and I strongly believe that a solid development environment is way better than the old text editor approach. And yes, I've done both, both in web work and other languages. I can tell that Dreamweaver is not ideal for web coding, but it is vastly superior to text editing. Certainly I know old-style coders who resist change like it's an opposing religion, who might code in a text editor if they did web coding, but I've yet to meet a designer who would do that. Not that it matters what everyone else thinks, except as a strong indicator, but simply seeing how much faster everything went with my straight-up HTML pages and PHP (doing all my own coding of course) was enough to convince me.
cogitationitis From: cogitationitis Date: February 22nd, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree that the Worldcon.org site, like many other fannish sites (like NESFA), is too text-dense, at least at the top level. I was told that it's because they're written for the lowest common denominator--people still using Netscape 3.0 and a 300 baud modem, and who are blind, or something like that. Which I find ridiculous (though a low-tech mirror site is not).

Perhaps this is the time to plug this year's Smofcon (see mcfi.org), which focuses on marketing.
thirdworld From: thirdworld Date: February 22nd, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is a very good point. Financially I'm not sure I'll make it to Smofcon this year, but the point is strong.

I also agree that catering for lowest common denominators in this way is absurd. As I understand it well-designed web pages are friendly to blind people. But as we have both said, a low-tech mirror (still designed by a professional) remains an option for those who prefer the current page -- it just should not be anything close to the default face we present to the world.
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