Friday, September 01, 2006

One local website back up, no signs of another

This week I checked the website for the Highlands School District again, and discovered it is back up. It had been down for most of the summer after some kind of security breach.

I like the appearance of the new website, and find it warm and inviting. It appears that there are still parts of the website that have yet to appear, but the existing website does have a lot of the useful information that I would expect to find. There is an unnecessary disclaimer that the site is still evolving (what part of the web is not?) The promise that content is being added daily makes it exactly what I would want to see in a large organization's website.

My main criticism of the school district's site is that takes a very long time to load on a dial-up connection. What loads first does not help a visitor start navigating to the desired information. Instead, the visitor must wait until lots of pretty but useless items load on the main page before finding how to get to the useful stuff.

Meanwhile the Tarentum Borough website ( is still down. Advertising signs at all the entrances to the borough show the url for this non-existent site. I was told that the site was taken down so that incorrect information could be corrected and the site could be redesigned. I simply don't understand this philosophy. One establishes a website in order to have a presence on the web. Continuous presence is important. Typos could have been fixed in an hour without requiring the whole site to be taken offline. Redesign can be done offline, and for a site the size of the borough's the actual posting of the redesigned site would have taken 15 minutes.

I have some understanding of the delay for the Highlands School District site, which is more than a set of web pages -- it is also an interface for sharing confidential information between teachers, students, and parents, and absolutely has to have a lot of secuity features. I am baffled by the missing Tarentum website.

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