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Computers & the Web

by NANCY ROBERTS Back to Brochures Once upon a time - yes this is a story of long, long ago. Like, about 20 years, tops. That

would take us back to the early 90s, when computers were not a staple in everyone’s home - scratch that, pocket - and a “website” was a “home page” and the “Internet” was the “World Wide Web,” and you “surfed” it. Quaint. Now we have the computing power of the very best machine of those days on our smart

phones, in fact, more, and people have long since given up looking for the furthest reaches of the ‘net. So it makes you

“home page,” er, web- It wasn’t that long be a graduate of one qualify for admission having a Facebook

“The arc for the complexity of website development has reached its zenith...”

wonder: what is a site, for any more? ago that you had to of a few colleges to to Facebook - now, page for your busi-

ness is what having a website used to be: a requirement of authenticity. News and updates are more rapidly done - and more widely disseminated - via social media posts - so the requirement to “visit” a website is nearly non-existent, unless said website is like Amazon, a shopping hub, or like YouTube, an entertainment center (I have to chuckle as I write that, thinking how that term has evolved, as well). But a website is still a requirement.

Because I have been in the business of devel- oping them for about 20 years now - more or less since they began to proliferate - I have watched the purpose and nature of a website change from a bro- chure, to an “interactive” space (well, the owners hoped it would be inter- active, with customers and clients avidly read- ing every word, signing up for “client rooms

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access,” or RSS feeds (get all our news the minute it’s posted to our website!) to, well, more or less back to a brochure! The arc for the complexity of website development has reached its zenith, and is now

sliding, predictably, back down. Again, I will exclude websites that have a truly interac- tive function: shopping, entertainment, medical records - anything that depends upon a database, in fact. The real purpose of a most websites now, from the standpoint of the user, is basic information. By basic I mean BASIC. I’d better find your address and phone number as soon as I access your site. If you have

activities such as the hours that your bricks and mortar operation is open, that information had better be readily accessible, too. The purpose of your busi- ness or organization should be clearly stated, especially if there is anything similar but not identical in operation (I went to a website recently and the event has two names - don’t ask me why - but it took me several searches before I was sure I was in the right place), so that I know that I’m in the right place. The Department of Redundancy Department at work. Something some busi- nesses and many .gov sites do that is maddening in the extreme is try to hide from the public. That is, no phone number is available, or the phone number is there, but it’s a general number than sends you down a rabbit hole of “press one for...” menus. Simple answers are not to be found. Simple answers are usually why we went to your website to begin with. A good website needs a


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