While it’s still early 2006, I thought it was time for a review of Moore Consulting’s first full year in business.
It’s been a great success, and a lot of fun — here are the basic facts:
We built (or contributed to the construction of) ten sites, with most of our clients being public sector bodies (including the NM State Economic Development Department, the NM Office of Science and Technology, NM Tourism and Santa Fe Economic development). Among these site was the main NM Economic Development Department site, and the very well-received travel and tourism project, Off The Road.
I (that’s me, David Moore) did the lion’s share of planning, construction and project management on all these jobs — I think it’s important that the person working on the overall strategy and information architecture of a site (the higher level decision-making) is also well-versed in the minutiae of construction issues. However, I was ably assisted by a talented group of designers and programmers who were responsible for making many of the sites look and work the way they were supposed to.
On the consulting side I did accessibility reviews for other website developers, helped a multinational e-learning firm build a new developers’ section on their site, and co-wrote an influential review of British and Irish e-government sites for Irish web consultancy, iQ Content.
I also saw a dozen issues of iQ Content’s popular newsletter safely off the virtual presses as the editor and main writer.
Trends and Conclusions
A few things stick out from the year.
Cost-effective CMSs please everyone — almost all the sites I’ve built this year have had a web-based back-end (or ‘content management system’ (CMS)) to allow easy updating. Sometimes this has been the free and great WordPress (http://www.wordpress.org), sometimes the cheap and powerful Expression Engine (http://www.expressionengine.com), depending on requirements. A web developer I know once told me that they always lost money on the original construction, but aimed to get it back on updates to the site. That’s outrageously unprofessional, in my opinion, not to mention a recipe for dissatisfaction all round. Clients should be able to change existing pages and add new pages (especially to a news or events section) without having to come back to the developer with more money, and it doesn’t cost a fortune to build that into the original construction.
Basecamp makes me look good, and keeps us all organized — the online project management system Basecamp is a great way to track projects and communicate with clients. Setting milestones, uploading samples, discussing issues — Basecamp keeps all the information in the one place, and makes it easy to find and use. My project with the e-learning company saw stakeholders in five or six locations (none of them Santa Fe, except me) in two countries, with more people being brought in over time. The Moore Consulting extranet (powered by Basecamp) kept everyone informed and on the same page.
New Mexico public sector website aren’t very good — from my review of 42 British and Irish e-government sites (and lots of earlier consulting and training on a number of central government projects in Ireland), it’s clear that New Mexico public sector sites need a lot of work. Of course, the ones I’ve been working on are better than most (though I would say that), but there’s a desperate need for standards and guidelines, and some emergency work on the usability and structure of most of them. I won’t say more now, but this will be one of my goals for 2006.