Brave New Web

Are we ready for the change?

My husband just sent me this interesting article in how “DreamWeaver is Dying.”

This isn’t a matter of bells and whistles, it’s absolutely fundamental. Ultimately a web site is all about content – posting it and making it findable – and Dreamweaver and the other static HTML editors have proven fundamentally flawed when it comes to these two core tasks (and features such as Dreamweaver’s libraries and templates are patches not solutions).

I think the lack of searchability is what really bothers me about putting pages up for our courses with DreamWeaver.  As the article points out, the model of authoring static webpages and managing html files from a central point may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I want to take some time to think about the future that is being hinted to us in this article.

The only feasible course for the future is for content to be posted by the content contributor, whether that’s the site owner or site visitors, and for the best possible navigation to be constructed around that content on the fly.

I’m okay with this, because I’ve been trained to ‘look for things’ using searches and to search for wording using the built in text finder in my browser. I’d argue that I have this so ingrained in me that I feel powerless and helpless when I cannot search for anything electronically. This afternoon I about had a fit because I was finding it difficult to use the Postal Zipcode index/book at the Post Office, so I called my husband and asked him to look up the postal code on the net. I even wondered… why the heck doesn’t the post office have access to this information via their computers? I and many others know how to navigate and search on the web, but what about those countless people who honestly don’t know how. We need to train them how to do this.

Not to mention we have to break them of the thinking that only ‘experts’ can manage and create content. Also, will this ability to have multiple ‘loci’ of control for content creation/editing cause confusion or even conflict? How can you train people to work with each other effectively and follow rules of etiquette for changes?

I know that it will probably be at least a few years before the idea of dynamically created and shared content will be universally accepted or as normal as e-mail.

As Tom Arah points out, this sort of change will present many opportunities for the “web designer who can adapt.” But how? I can think of a few things:

  • Designers will need to chill out and let go of their old ways (no more sacred cows, more tasty innovative burgers)
  • Designers will need to be able to effectively partner & communicate with developers to both learn how to manage dynamic content as well as the different possibilities available to them
  • Designers need to know when different tools & widgets will be appropriate for managing and presenting content
  • Designers need to learn how to manage & leverage user contribution/management of  content and build this to their design plan and possibly user training plan.

2 Responses to “Brave New Web”

  1. 1 naturalelegance March 16, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Natalie,

    Not to mention we have to break them of the thinking that only ‘experts’ can manage and create content.

    I’m not disagreeing with your post but I think that this one line has a fatal flaw. There will always be experts, even if they are so for a very short period of time. We will always need the trailblazers, the people who know how to do things first, who can teach the rest of us so we, too, can become experts. I think the main problem is making that transfer of knowledge smooth and quick.

  2. 2 Christy Tucker March 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    But who did the experts learn from?

    The idea that we have to learn from someone else and we can’t figure it out ourselves (collectively, at least, if not always individually) is the fundamental shift here. Focusing on transfer of knowledge from expert to novice is very cognitivist; focusing on everyone contributing and learning together is more constructivist and connectivist.

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