Articles

We recently met with a university who was in the market for a web redesign. To kick off the discussion, we handed index cards to their 15 stakeholders who represented multiple departments. We asked them, “What’s the #1 thing this redesign needs to get right to be a success?” and had them write their answer on the card. Guess what almost everyone wrote down?Read more
It starts off wonderfully. Everyone’s excited about the new website, and eager to get the project started. Meetings are full of big dreams, friendly banter, intense brainstorming, and poking fun at the old site. The client shares their vision, the design team brings their experience in, and it all seems like it’s going to go great. And then it doesn’t. We frequently hear the horror stories from cl...Read more
Keeping track of the images, videos and sound clips in your website can be difficult. Here's what happens: an organization plans for their new website. They make a huge push to get its content in place. Deadlines are established, arms are twisted, articles artfully produced. There isn't time or patience to fuss over the site's directory structure when p eople are busy finding just the right media...Read more
We always hope that the websites we build will make our clients’ day-to-day lives easier. What keeps our job interesting is that no two clients define "easy" the same way. During the planning process, we explain to our clients that at one end of the spectrum lies a website that give you complete control and flexibility, and at the other lies a website that automatically takes care of everything fo...Read more
Long before I started making websites, I was a biology nerd (ask me about my favorite echinoderms sometime). So I can’t help thinking of websites as organisms that are born, grow and change over time, and ultimately, pass on to that great Internet Archive in the sky. Sadly, they age fast, often becoming outdated or unusable after just a few years. Why does this happen, and what can you do to slow...Read more
If you’re working with us to rebuild your organization’s website, there has probably been a lot of hard work (and a lot of meetings) to get the job done. And the great news is, the new site should let you reach a lot more people. But here’s the bad news: now you have to write your content. Spreadsheets Fix Everything We've seen this difficult task undertaken by lots of clients, and we saw patterns...Read more
On April 21, do you recall anything weirdly apocalyptic happening? Did you notice corpses rise from the graves, the sky splitting open and raining fire, or at the very least a few flashes of lightning? Probably not. We're guessing that April 21 was just another normal day to you. But was it just another normal day for your website? What is MobileGeddon? It's the term coined by web and search engin...Read more
Back in August 2014, there was an intern working for a Washington, DC think tank called The Center for Strategic and International Studies. We don’t know a lot about this fellow—how long he had been working there, who he worked under, what he was supposed to do there. However, thanks to the wonder of modern technology, we do know one thing about him. Using his employer’s Twitter account, he publis...Read more
There’s a common belief that Drupal is inherently less user-friendly than some other open-source content management systems (cough, cough—Wordpress). I hear it from prospective clients all the time when I tell them we work exclusively in Drupal. “Isn’t it harder to use?” they ask warily, as though I’m about to suggest a nuclear submarine for their next fishing excursion. In response, I say that th...Read more
A typical “above the fold” conversation The scene: a web design presentation for a global health organization. Twelve of us sit around a huge conference table at their Cambridge, MA office, while another handful participate via web conference in D. C. We walk them through design concepts for eight page templates, asking for feedback along the way. One of the client's funders raises her hand. “And...Read more
We at Digital Loom are finally going to take on the age-old question: how do I choose an open-source CMS? But first, here’s what we’re NOT going to do. We are not going to provide a point-by-point analysis of the merits and drawbacks of Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla, and Plone because other very smart people have already done so. You’d be wise to download Idealware's open-source CMS report before you...Read more
We’re web developers. We always thought of usability testing as something that one could only do in fancy labs with two-way mirrors and eye-tracking software. But a few years ago, we were inspired to start incorporating usability testing into some of our projects after attending usability guru Christine Perfetti’s Usability Bootcamp. She impressed upon us that even a few quick-and-dirty tests with...Read more
A client posed this very question to me over lunch as she described the difficulties she's had working with another technology vendor who was building a database for her small non-profit. "It's been so frustrating," she lamented. "I ask them to make a change to the database, and they'll make the change, but it has a negative impact in several other ways I didn't anticipate. When I complain, they s...Read more
In our decades of collective experience making websites, we’ve seen a recurring pattern in the web development process that frustrates us and our clients, drags projects out beyond their launch date, and pushes budgets up. Our solution is something we call “Collaborative Development.” Planning is great. But it can only do so much. Like any good web design shop, we love planning. We spend lots of t...Read more
It's admittedly a minor point—but if you are at all responsible for writing content for the web, I'd like to make a case that removing the phrase “click here” from your writing can improve your visitor's experience, help them find information more quickly, and as a bonus, improve your search engine rankings. “Click here” might have been helpful back in 1996 when not everyone realized that the text...Read more
Often, as I find myself talking with a client about improvements and additions they'd like for their website, they suddenly switch to a tired, resigned, and slightly self-deprecating tone, and sigh, “I know we really need to have a blog. It's ridiculous that we don't have one by now, everybody else does.” I am here to tell you: you might not need a blog. Yes, you heard me right. I am an industry p...Read more