In my last post, I noted how crazy it was that such a resource intensive site as Americorps Alums didn’t have a search tool on their site. I also contacted the site admins to get their take on the issue, and here is their response:
Thanks for your constructive feedback. We are actually in the process of adding a site map, and the idea you present is another fantastic idea. In doing a little research, it seems that there are some reasonably priced “web site search” tools available, so stay tuned for its integration. Thanks again.
Member Engagement Manager, AmeriCorps Alums
First off, I’d like to thank Greg for responding so quickly to my comments. That proves that not only are there real people behind the site (which I already knew), but that they’re promptly responsive to visitor input as well, which is always a good thing.
Secondly, I applaud the site’s efforts to grow and improve, and to take feedback seriously. It’s a good sign that this isn’t going to be a “set it and forget it” endeavor, as is sometimes the case with resource sites.
But I do have to say, I’m a bit taken aback and somewhat bemused that my suggestion to include a search tool was received as a “great idea” that triggered some research into the prospect on their part (which is how I read it, anyway), because that’s a core concept of building accessible, user-friendly websites that should have been a no-brainer for any web designer who hasn’t been hiding under a rock since FrontPage rocked the Internets with those newfangled scrolling marquees and flashing graphics.
I mean, dude. Yes, real people are running the joint, but what people? Have any of them ever run a professional multi-level site before? And if so, how does something as basic as putting a search tool into a resource archive/member community not get on the drawing board well before even the color scheme and layout?
Eh, maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. And I’m glad they’re finally considering the idea (and I hope they pick a proven, brand-name implantation that actually works, and not some bargain-basement off-brand kludge that some back-alley programmer hand rolled because he just had to have a piece of software with his own name on it).
But for me, going into a site with the Americorps name on it and seeing these sorts of basic usability issues is like going into a supposedly upscale nightclub and seeing a plywood bar and cheap carpet – it gives the impression of either fly-by-night cheesiness or, more likely, big dreams being carried out by people who are in over their heads. Neither prospect is particularly comforting.