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September 19, 2005


Paul Evans


Firstly, I think that an impartial critique of someone's website is a very benevolent thing to offer. Most people that reach the (near) top of their professions didn't do so by managing a good website. The medium is only a decade old, and most well-managed websites have only emerged in the last four or five years.

Such advice is, therefore, always (grudgingly) welcomed.

On the one hand, I don't agree that the lack of a contact form is a problem - a ‘mailto’ address is usually OK (though some users will be using other people's PCs or handheld devices). On the other hand, you have to go through lots of clicks to actually get to the ‘mailto’.

On a wider note, their website definitely has a tokenistic feel about it. It doesn't appear planned, and the main reason it exists is because someone high-up thought 'we'll look a bit daft if we haven't got a website'. And then - every now and then, they dump some (context-free) info on their site with a view to profile-raising.

Websites need to be planned as well as a good blog is. Googling terms like 'platform neutral', 'Search Engine Optimisation', 'accessibility', 'metadata' and so on will give an idea of what's at stake.

In my job, I advise people on this kind of stuff - but I've never really found a good 'Idiot's Guide to Website Development'-type book. They are always written for coders.

Non-tech managers are the ones who really need this advice - but I've not really found anything in print that helps. Given the amount of money spent (and the value of doing it properly), this lack of demand – and supply – is very surprising.

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