[thelist] web site maintenance woes (rant)

Rebecca Milot-Bradford RMilot-Bradford at nsca-lift.org
Tue Jul 23 19:05:01 CDT 2002

>  >
>  > But updating the content is a very small piece of the
>  overall work of
>  > maintenance.
>  Depending on the site. If your aim is to have a site that is
>  constantly
>  changing, it's the biggest of the tasks. What's the point of
>  a website
>  that has little content - that's whats known as a fluff site.

I think we are talking about different things, here. When I referred to
updating content, I was thinking of the department-specific stuff that
really doesn't change a whole lot -- such as info about membership benefits
and rates, descriptions of the different publications, meeting minutes,
bylaws, position statements, stuff like that. And by the way, although that
content doesn't change a whole lot, it is hardly fluff and is considered
pretty vital to the people in the industry.

NEW content is a whole 'nother bird. Creating NEW content is the fun,
exciting part of the job that I am trying to make more time for. Creating
new content is why I got into this gig, having been a writer and magazine
editor previously.

>  There's also all the stuff like search engine positioning,
>  Content and change brings traffic, that's why we are so keen on large
>  amounts of it. For instance, try this:
>  http://www.google.com/search?q=rum%20punch
>  Look who's number 4
>  and this
>  http://www.google.com/search?q=anguilla
>  between 1 and 4 consistantly

So you are saying that you never feel the need to check on your search
engine positioning and perhaps tweak content to improve it? I have a top ten
Google listing on every keyword our management team has identified as being
important to us, but I still find that it requires a certain amount of
maintenance to stay there.

>  > log/traffic analysis,
>  Built into eZPublish

But at some point an actual human being has to sit down and look at the
numbers and decide what they MEAN.

>   tech support for the users,
>  A lot less goes wrong when it's dynamic

It doesn't matter how good the technology is, we will still have people who
want to call to find out their member ID, or to check that their membership
application really went through (despite the fact that they received an
immediate confirmation plus a confirmation email), or to ask WHY they can't
get the early registration price two days after the early registration

>   tweaking site architecture,
>  Pretty hard to do with static content

How so? Let's say I run a site that sells equestrian gear. I have all of the
content and products categorized as tack, clothing, grooming supplies and
accessories. However, after analyzing my logs and tracking user behavior, I
notice that users are either looking for English gear or Western gear. I try
out some new categorization/navigation schemes on a small number of users.
In response to what I found in testing, I tweak the site architecture so
that everything is now categorized as either English or Western, and revise
the navigation accordingly. The content hasn't changed, but the site
architecture certainly has.

>  maintaining any databases the site uses
>  all done through the admin interface

The particular interface doesn't really matter, this task must still be
done. I won't bore everyone with some additional complications I deal with,
but I will say that the database interface is the least of my problems.

>  , updating forms,
>  users can do this

I could maintain 10,000 pages in the time it would take me to teach one user
to safely add a field to the database that will be holding the form data,
and to then update all of the related queries.

>  > servicing sponsor agreements,
>  Click throughs are shown, easy to add revenue stats

Not ads, sponsors. All those contracts that say things like, "every time
event X is mentioned, your name will also be mentioned" and "no other
beverage company will receive more prominent mention than Beverage Company

>  creating ads, etc.
>  Design, which is what we would prefer to be doing.

Heh, wish I could turn that over to you. I loathe creating ads.

There are some good ideas in here, and as I said in the last post, I am
looking into implementing some of the ideas as quickly as possible to
relieve the pressure. But I think it is unrealistic to claim that one
product cures all ills. And throwing around comments like "that's whats
known as a fluff site" makes it hard to focus on the constructive advice. So
sorry if I took it the wrong way -- I've tried to keep my aggravation from
coming through here but it probably did anyway.


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