Web Design, Content, Interfaces

I have been donating my time (and frustrations) plus a subdomain, to a small group of people with some good ideas. After getting a Joomla-based website set up for them, I got anguished mail message from them as they attempted the long hike up the Joomla learning curve. One suggested that a drag-and-drop interface was essential. I said that if so, then Web Easy Professional, at about $45 US is probably the right thing. I hope so. Anyway, my reservations about commercial non-open-source software remain, not because the commercial software isn’t worth the price, but because tying your website maintainance to some business worries me.

I think there is always a trade-off between ease-use-and power. There doesn’t have to be, but that’s the way it is, so far. The people who want drag-and-drop functionality, for example, will be able to make pretty pages easily, but will probably have to design each page so that it is pretty, being forced to work on appearance instead of content. But in the end, content is everything. An ugly page might scare off a visitor, but few will visit and pay attention if the content isn’t there and isn’t useful.

I will have to be a bit careful about what I do and especially what I recommend. But I am not too concerned, my focus has to be content too.

I would like to note that Joomla, Web Easy, and other packages are really just interfaces, visual ways writing PHP, HTML and Javascript code, especially PHP. They are like Visual Basic or Delphi in that respect, code writing tools. But whereas the computer languages are functionally complete, the visually based code generators are not, they cannot generate code for arbitrary purposes. Though my basic concern is social technology, just a subset of general technology, and websites are just a small part of social technology, I would like to ensure that website design is adequately handled. When I write about advanced hi-tech social technology software, I would like it to include website design software too — and also to be as functionally complete as possible. There is a continuum between simple drag-and-drop visual interfaces for limited purposes and coding for something like number crunching. I see no reason for arbitrary divisions in this continuum. — dpw

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