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Budget Web Sites Can Still Do the Job

Magazine article Information Today

Budget Web Sites Can Still Do the Job

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Budget Web Sites Can Still Do the Job Web Design on a Shoestring by Carrie Bickner Boston: New Riders Publishing, 2004 ISBN: 0-7357-1328-6 215 pages $24.99

When I first created Web pages (in the dark ages of the mid1990s), there were no Web-authoring tools, templates, or style sheets. Making a fill-in form was a major programming accomplishment. Now there are so many options that you can spend a fortune on Web site development.

Unfortunately, most of us don't have lavish budgets. If you're in a business setting, your Web-development budget has likely been reduced recently. If you're at a nonprofit, you probably never had a big budget to begin with. Our users' Web skills are more sophisticated, and their expectations have risen as well. But don't panic. According to Carrie Bickner's book Web Design on a Shoestring, it's still possible to make an appealing and usable Web site without break.

Bickner is currently assistant director for digital information and system design at The New York Public Library, where she coordinates Web development and works on individual NYPL projects. She also has freelance experience with developing Web sites for smallbusiness clients. You can see her personal site, The Rogue Librarian, at http://www.roguelibrarian.com. In addition, Bickner offers information about Web Design on a Shoestring, including reviews and excerpts, at http://www.rogue librarian.com/shoestring/index.html.

In the book's introduction, Bickner talks about her years of experience working as a shoestring Web developer. In 1999, she hoped to get a big monetary infusion for her projects, but the city's budget collapsed. She then developed a lean approach to Web development, promoting efficiency and creating some great products. In the process, she realized that she didn't necessarily need lots of money and a big staff. Since many of us are in the same boat, she wrote Web Design on a Shoestring to share her ideas.

The eight chapters focus on different aspects of successful Web design and development. Part I covers production techniques. The first chapter, "Secrets to a Successful Shoestring Project," gets the reader into the right frame of mind. While going through this chapter, I could see immediate applications for my own library's Web site. Some key points: Have a clear focus, and dare to do less. If you're on a budget, pick a limited number of things to do on your Web site, and do them well.

Bickner continues her discussion of focus in Chapter 2, where she talks about the importance of creating a project plan and sticking to it. …

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