Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Next Bright Idea

I'm in the midst of trying to create a web site manager for use with small groups. I've put pieces of it together on several different web sites, but I have never put a whole package together that would solve most of the management problems for a small, not-so-tech oriented group.

The impetus for all of this is my experience in working with small organizations. Most small organizations and boards lack the institutional memory and resources to remain effective over long periods of time. Each time the leadership changes, the new board starts from scratch and reinvents everything. Most records are kept in dusty boxes in board members' basements.

Also, in many organizations, members don't have good access to resources that their group might offer such as upcoming events, contact information, a directory of members, news, etc. So I've been working on a web-based application to do all that. And believe me, it's not been pretty.

So far, I've put together an authorization and contact module to track changes in a group's membership. My next task is to add a content module that will enable a group to build and maintain a website. The mechanics of doing all of this is relatively straightforward.

The challenge is to create a design that is simple for users, but also powerful. Many contact and content management programs are out there. Some of them are even free or open source. Most of them, though, are far too complex for a small organization to implement without significant technical help, and most small organizations would be hard pressed to maintain any such program.

So I'm continuing to work this. I'm trying to make something that a reasonably intelligent person who has some web experience could deploy. That's a very difficult task, because most developers, me included, assume that our users know far more than they do. But at least I know my goal: a simple software package that even my mother could deploy. I may not accomplish that, but it gives me something to aim for.