Why are website redesigns such a challenge?

Author: Mark Parsons
Posted: 8 Apr 2013 | 16:01

Welcome to the new EPCC blog – a source of what we hope will be regular musings on the activities and challenges that make an HPC centre tick.

If you’re viewing this page then the redesigned EPCC website has finally gone live. A huge sigh of relief will be heard across EPCC as the stream of nagging emails asking for rewritten content and images reduces for the first time in months.

This is the first time in over a decade that EPCC has redesigned its website. Before then we regularly redesigned it, often to match the design of our Annual Report. As the general quality of content on the web has become more professional, the time and effort required to design and implement even a small website has increased massively. EPCC’s website only represents the activities of 75 staff but it’s a complex challenge all the same. It’s an important investment because, rightly or wrongly, we view it as one of our main windows onto the world.

We started to talk about a redesign of the EPCC site over two years ago. Numerous meetings were held, with long and boring discussions about content management systems and the amount of work required by all and sundry. By last summer we’d decided to out-source the development of the website to an Edinburgh company called Basestation. This has proven to be an excellent decision; removing the inertia inherent in trying to please all of the people all of the time (you can’t).

Building a new website also allows an organisation to look at itself and to think clearly about what it does. In a multi-funded environment like EPCC this is no bad thing and probably something we should do much more regularly. Representing what we do clearly and cleanly has been one of our biggest challenges. It will be interesting to see what we’ve got right and what we’ve got wrong. If you can’t find what you need on the website, let us know.

I wonder how long we will have this design? A new website in 2023 or earlier? By 2023 we’ll be entering the age of Exascale systems – perhaps we’ll celebrate our first Exascale system with a new website design. 

Contact

Mark Parsons, EPCC

Comments

I couldn't agree more! If you want to put together a communal document, website or promotional materials, the first thing you need to do is agree that not everyone is going to agree.