The Web Cube:

The internal landscape of a distributed website

Spider Redgold {s.redgold@mailbox.gu.edu.au}
Information Technology Services, Griffith University, Queensland Australia

Introduction

Web teams are the 'maids of the universe', keeping beauty and order in a world where executive management want branding, business units want independence. Every one thinks their site should be higher, more obvious and more interactive than it is currently, and everyone knows someone who will do their site better cheaper or brighter than the current one. Web team members and managers struggle through a morass of conflicting needs; like swimming in baked beans.

This poster introduces the Web Cube, a tool for website managers. This cube provides a 3 dimensional model for classification of the issues and tasks of managing a mature and distributed web site. The Web Cube will be used to demonstrate a methodology for organisations that have large sites and are committed to site management as well as content production..

"Many websites do not address the issues arising from continued growth, are not managed beyond the initial phase of enthusiastic growth and are so difficult to maintain that further activity ceases."( Oliver and Johnson )

The cube is a tool to focus on the issues relating to large site management rather than those of content development. The centre of the cube is investigated from each surface, asking the questions relevant to a robust site management and maintenance regime.

The Web Cube

shockwave model of cube

The Web Cube is for organisations which are focussed on site management, where the web team are responsible for timeliness and future-proofing of the site as a major communication tool for the internal and external community and as the avenue for current and future business functions. Three faces of the cube represent the tools, user experience and ecology of the site. These form the choices and challenges of any web site. A further two faces are communications and the solutions. The base of the cube, the final face, is formed from the questions within the unique context of each site environment.

Issues in Site management

The 27 small cubes are ordered to represent the daily challenges and issues in web management: operational control; appearance and usability, rate of change of appearance, cost of change of appearance; governance, infrastructure requirements and resource limits; timeliness, and communication with the communities of interest. Each small cube represents a unique set of relationships within the larger issues. The base being the questions to be asked while the rear face represents the solutions specific to the site for that small module. Each cross -sectional slab adds perspective to the investigation.

O-dentification

"IDENTITY IS THE CRISIS - CAN'T YOU SEE" Poly Styrene, X-ray Specs 1978
This issue is the heart of the model, the central cube, where a client finds the information sought, a visitor enjoys the site experience and the content providers are confident that they are reaching the audience they address.
DEFINITION: O-dentification is the moment of achieving a match between one's unique identifier and the materials, portal or interactive interface that is being accessed at the authority attached to the role linked with the unique identifier.
O-dentity is on-line identity. Every person must be identified, allowed access to on-line materials based on their authority, within the life life cycle of a document. Every document must be identified, to ascertain which person has authority to authorise the set(s) of users allowed to access the document, to update the document and to subsequently authorise it as correct and appropriate for publication according to its security/privacy category.

Communication

Site management communication is about technology and site management issues, policy and procedures and the state of the content, rather than being about the meaning of the content contained with the documents and web pages.

Conclusion

The web cube describes a topography for the internal landscape of any site. This poster provides an opportunity to consider the operational strategic issues specific to managing a large and busy web site, and to separate the issues of site management from content production and from infrastructure management.

The Web Cube offers a structure to measure current practices and plan to meet future needs
- a schema to represent site management tasks to decision makers in a way that shows clearly that content management tasks are valuable operational work quite separate from content production
- a tool to aid solution delivery to match specific needs within a large site, and
- a modular view of the specialised skill set needed for large scale site management.

References

  1. Oliver and Johnson "Growing Websites", Ausweb99; http://ausweb.scu.edu.au/aw99/papers/oliver/paper.html
  2. Fraternali, Piero "Web Development Tools: a survey" http://www7.scu.edu.au/programme/posters/1835/com1835.htm
Spider Redgold 2000 [print version pdf]