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Web Design and Engineering


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*Web Design Engineering*

 

The inherrent problem with any kind of design engineering, or anything for that matter, is when one is unfamiliar with the specific subject matter.

 

A Medical Doctor is a doctor, right? Well yes.

They All (in the U.S. anyway) go through the same accredited premed curriculum.

They all essentially have the same initial qualifications upon graduation.

They then attend an internship, and most often pick up a specialty.

This is where they begin to really differ.

While one may becoming an expert in cardiology, another may specialize in pulmonology, and so on. They are all doctors, but one knows more, has greater expertise about a specific part of the anatomy: how it functions, how other systems effect it, what can happen to it under a variety of circumstances, how certain medications and other substances and systems interrelate with the function of this specific organ. And yet even these experts can become befuddled, misdiagnose, misprescribe, miscalculate, make mistakes.

One hopes that this would not happen very often, but it still does happen, to the very best experts in their field. No one starts out being an expert in anything, there is a great deal of trial and error in gaining experience.

Still if one has a skin condition, the likelyhood of getting a proper diagnosis and treatment is enhanced if one sees a dermatologist rather than a cardiologist, even though the function of the heart does effect the skin, and vice versa.

 

In construction there are architects and there are architects.

A general contractor (GC) farms out a host of his contract to roofing contractors, plumbing contractors, electrical contractors, and so on. These subcontractors often further sub out the labor and often have a forman that they rely upon to hire the best people to do the specific jobs. The GC ideally works closely with architect in implementing his plans, oversees all of the specific subcontractors and intermediates between them.

 

But all architects are not the same. There is a host of specialty fields. For example an environmental engineer/architect has a level of evolving knowledge in that special field regarding materials, and energy efficiency design, etc. that an old school architect likely would not have. It's very easy to have systems work against each other, if the person in charge does not know how all the various systems interrelate, and how they should function in a specific terrain/environment.

 

There are a host of variables that can effect the final outcome, or product in any of the above. Not the least of these is the cost factor.

 

A specialty dentist can perform miracles in restoration if money is no object. However, the reality for too many persons is no or insufficient insurance, policy constraints or lacking specific coverage for specific procedures, etc. it all boils down to inadequate funds.

So rather than give the best service using the best materials that are available, too often there is a compromise and what is provided is hopefully the best that the client/patient can afford, or is willing to spend, which many times is less than the optimum treatment if the limitations of cost were not a factor.

Often in dentistry the patient who can't afford the proper restoration simply ends up having the tooth extracted.

 

But, aside from the cost of obtaining the "best" service from the "best" people in any field, I'd say that the most common reason why the end result is not what the purchaser had imagined it would be, in engineering design anyway, is that the designer is unfamiliar with the specific subject matter.

 

A design engineer may be able to design a camera, but unless that person is also a photographer they are likely to make a poor camera, or a good camera that has some stupid built-in design flaws that wouldn't have occurred had that designer actually been a photographer who was familiar with how that camera would be used.

 

Most early/original products/machines were designed by persons who actually used them.

Originally carpenters designed and built the specialty tools that they needed to make their job easier.

Bicycles and motorcycles were designed and built by bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Cars were designed and built by people that drove them, and specialty cars such as high performance race cars were designed by persons who would risk their lives in them.

Henry Ford raced cars and initially designed and hand built his own (i.e. the model T and all preceding models were literally Ford designs).

Airplanes were designed by pilots who flew them, and pilots were an integral part of any design by providing instrumental data and feed back on how a design should ultimately work.

The Wright brothers designed and flew the Kitty Hawk. Had Lindbergh not been intricately involved in the design of "The Spirit Of Saint Louis" that plane would likely not have been able to cross the Atlantic.

The most practical, functional, "best" cameras were once (and still are) designed and built by photographers and cameramen.

 

The original computer games were written by computer geeks who understood programing and liked to play games.

Electronic gaming companies, interested in making a profit selling computer games, hire game program designers that are also gamers themselves and, ideally, provide an adequate budget and time for the design development, and sufficent beta testing on a variety of platforms to insure that the product released will be as functionally bug free as possible, with the least amount of required patches (read that as "upgrades") to make the game work.

There are many game genres and it's not enough to just produce a bug free game.

If one is producing a real time strategy (RTS) game or first person shooter game, there are enough differences between them that you want to hire designers that are very familiar with the gameplay of the specific type of game that you intend to market.

Those particular game specialists will catch much of the minutia and intricate details that can make the difference in success or failure.

They are aware that disatisfied customers will tell their friends, and their investment could easily and quickly end up being a flop. Some very good gaming companies that had reputations for releasing excellent quality games eventually went under with the production of a single major flop. (this same truism also applied to some major motion picture studios that went away long ago).

 

The list goes on and on...

 

*So how does all this apply to Web design and Information Technology (IT) specialists today....*

 

Just as there are many types of computer games there are a variety of companies that want web space today, and web design can be just as difficult as designing a successful game in that each design must be a custom fit for that particular customer/client.

Sure there are basic similarities that most web designs have in common, but not just any web design company can make a successful web design for every customer.

In my opinion, this is the reason why there are so many buggy web designs produced today and why it takes so long to sort them out, with many never reaching the functional level that the client/customer had envisioned.

Most customers do not possess the technical savvy to communicate precisely what it is they want. And most designers, unless they are very involved in that particular customers field, can only make subjective guesses as to how the customer actually wants his design to perform and with what specific features.

The designer produces a product, it is implemented, and then the bugs appear.

The design had flaws that were not recognised on the "drawing board" and only materialized after the poduct was released because the product does not live up to the clients expectations.

So the "fixing" begins, with each fix having the potential to produce new bugs.

Sometimes the initial product is eventually scrapped, and everything started over again, often with different design personnel, sometimes with an entirely different web design company that has greater expertise in that customers field, because now the client has learned that all web design companies are not alike.

Worst case is the client cannot afford to begin again and must either stick with the inferior design, or return to what they had before.

End result is a lot of lost time, frustrated clients, disatisfied customers, and lost revenue. Some highly competitive businesses never recover.

 

If you are a hospital administrator, and you want to digitize your facility, it would behoove you to seek out IT specialists who are very familiar with what hospitals do, in particular, what your hospital does, and how you manage your patient treatment and billing records, etc. The best systems are designed by persons with a medical background in whatever specialty the customer intends to apply the product. Since this is often not feasible, the designer that works closely with his client, soliciting input on practically every level will most likely produce the most functional and least buggy initial product.

 

*When it comes to the TCM website, I really have no idea what is actually going on in the background. I can only surmise based on what I see from my end.*

 

But, based upon my experience, I would guess that the current Web design was not produced by an avid TCM Web user. Someone who personally used the old site in their own home because they were a big fan of this program and watched and recorded TCM movies, visited the fan boards regularly and used all of the preexisting features.

If they had, my opinion is that this intial "Upgrade" wouldn't have flopped as badly as it has.

There are simply too many blatant functional design flaws that would have been very obvious to a Web designer who was also a practicing fan of this website.

In lieu of that, the Web design company would have to have worked so closely with actual web users that they would obtain the same "feel" of the uniqueness of this Website as if they were in fact, an actual active fan.

 

What further complicates things is I'm getting the impression that there are two TCM camps here.

The actual using fan base camp (my end). And the Web site Administrative/Controllers who have a different idea as to what they want this website to do.

It's obvious that the two are not in harmony.

It's almost like an employee vs management labor dispute.

The employee likes things that make their job easier, more enjoyable, and even fun to come to work, or in this case visiting the website and using the features that make their total TCM experience a "warm fuzzy."

The upper level of owner/management may have an entirely different vision for the company and not be considering employee needs beyond the cost of essential overhead.

Aside from Mr. Hershey or Ben & Jerry's there are few examples where employees and management seemed to be on the same plane.

 

The big difference here is that TCM and the viewer/members need to be one.

 

TCM's greatness stems from it's fan appeal.

The Website was created (I thought) to better serve those Fans and make them feel like they were actually a part of TCM.

TCM fan input is a vital part of making TCM grow and reach out to newer fans. They (we) are the ones which can tell you (the administrators) what works for us and what doesn't, what we want to see more or less of...

Sure, try new things, to make everything even better, but without our input you will have no real idea whether your "vision" and what we like and want are in harmony.

In my opinion, Major disruptive overhauls such as what we are now experiencing, should not be undertaken without open discourse between Admin and members.

Had that taken place perhaps you wouldn't be experienceing such a wave of discontent right now.

 

Perhaps they (admin) are simply overwhelmed, I don't know, but *loss of familiar website functions, combined with locking and deleting threads and deleting posts without explanation and lack of communication certainly fuels the doubt that they (admin) really share our (the TCM member/web user) concerns.*

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