Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

8 December 2005

St. Catherine Church Site and Usability

While I was gone on vacation, one of my sites went into soft launch, meaning, it’s live now, but not a whole lot of people know about it yet. Check it out, and if you find any bugs, send me a note

St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church

This is the first website I’ve designed of which I won’t be the primary caretaker. That really changes the way you think about the administrative tools for your site, and the usability thereof. (by the way, we’re using Wordpress), So far, it has been going fairly well, but it really made me think twice about how the site is organized. Organizing information for yourself is one thing, but making it easy to understand for someone else is entirely different. They need to feel like they can own it.

The problems arose when I discovered times that I was lazy in programming some of the templates with the Wordpress system. Sometimes, and I don’t realize I do this till later, I make a little compromise here and there that makes the usability a little more difficult in favor of being able to program something the easy way rather than the hard way. This would be something akin to dumping all your silverware in the same drawer. It’s less work, but there’s no organization, and it’s more of a pain in the long run for the next person who needs to find the grapefruit spoon. So I kind of had to undo my laziness, but I needed help.

In this case, I had to sit down with the caretaker of the website face-to-face and walk through the website. After she started using the site a bit, we had several follow-up meetings, and discussed how it was organized and how it could be improved. For the visitor to the site, nothing much changed, but for the administrator, things got organized better and the maintenance of the site became easier for this person.

I’ve read a lot about usability testing for front-end interfaces, particularly as it relates to navigating websites. I’d say testing and listening on how the back-end of a site is organized is just as, if not more so, important.