Time for some web design collaboration

Earlier this week I talked with Daniel Bachhuber of CoPress about forming a group this summer for the college news organizations that will be redesigning their online presences. Daniel wrote up a quick summary and posted the audio from the call over on the Inside CoPress blog.

Since talking with Daniel I’ve done some more thinking about this and come up with a rough outline of what I would like to see happen.

Weekly or bi-weekly conference sessions

These would be designed to be roundtable critiques of each school’s design. Depending on how often people are working on them, it is the summer after all, they could be every week or just once a month.

Ideally those involved would spend time before the call poking around through one another’s designs and drawing up a list of what’s working and what isn’t.

This would allow for the calls to stay a manageable length. Hopefully they would be able to remain under an hour (assuming about ten minutes for a handful of participants).

A couple staff members at the Whitman Pioneer attended the ACP Conference in San Diego this year where Bryan Murley hosted such a roundtable website critique and they said that it was one of the most helpful things for them in thinking of how others viewed our site.

I think that sometimes it becomes to easy to just assume that a design decision works because you’re familiar with it without finding out whether it works for people unfamiliar with your site. These virtual roundtables would be designed to combat that problem.

Collaborative design

There is no way that I can emphasize how important I think collaboration is in regard to web design: it’s why I will be releasing¬†News Evolved early and before it’s complete. I think that the best way for college news organizations, many of which have small web departments, to advance their websites is to take advantage of the crowd. The more people involved means that more ideas will be thrown around and implemented.

Everybody’s got their strengths and their weaknesses and that’s something that’s particularly true of designing something as massive as a news organization’s website.

The ideal situation in my eyes would be one in which the weekly roundtables were not just discussions but were opportunities for everyone to get involved in different projects. There’s no reason why the college news community cannot come together and take advantage of everyone’s strengths to push their designs further.

Those are the two biggest aspects of what I would like to accomplish with this during the summer. What do you think? Know anyone that would be interested?