Friday, January 4, 2008

Bad habits die hard

I have a bad habit of pulling away into my own "zone" and losing touch with people. One of the things I've done to combat this is to participate as a volunteer on the local town parks and recreation advisory board, volunteer to help the Chamber with its Web site, and serve as organizer for local Web Design meetings:

One thing I've learned from volunteering to set up a site for a local Chamber: most people still do not grasp the idea of single sourcing. The Web is just another conduit for information, so if you've typed in "XYZ" into a newsletter, you might as well have just typed it into an article on a Web site. Instead, people insist on doubling-up on the work and adding the expense of having Web Designers cut-and-paste materials they've already written into a Web page.

Moral: If what you're really looking for is help doing the copy-writing, then who you really need on a regular basis is a good writer, not a designer. On the other hand, if you've got information to publish in periodically through multiple channels, you don't need someone else to cut-and-paste for you, you need to put an effective single-sourcing workflow in place.

Incidentally, although I completed the Web site for free, and set in place automated advertising, calendars, event registration, search capability, and fully automated membership updating from QuickBooks; even though the site was for practical purposes self-maintenable; even though people liked the style; the Chamber decided that they needed to ask for a round of sealed bids for maintaining the site. I realized that something else was going on, but I could only speculate. I made a competitive but-by-no-means-low bid, but never heard back from the Chamber... that is, no formal bid award announcement was made. I decided I had to focus on my studies and other clients. My reasoning was that if free wasn't low-cost enough, and the organization was going to demand formality but not provide it in return, I probably couldn't afford them as a client.

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