Laurel: I think it’s pretty amazing art.yale.edu has been around since 2007. It’s probably one of the oldest sites I know of this type. And around the web, I’ve seen students try to redesign it as a project.
Ayham: Oh yeah. I’ve seen that too. As if there’s something wrong, and we need to fix it.
Sheila: Is there something that you’d imagine doing that would make it more current or is it current the way it is?
Dan: For one thing, it’s not mobile responsive. It’s true that for such a simple site it doesn’t matter that much, but there are some basic ways in which people use the web now that are different than in 2007.
Sheila: Is there one kind of way they use it now that’s of interest to us or to you?
Dan: Well, mobile is one. But also it’s been a process of just entropy over the years. This homepage is pretty far from what we envisioned.
Honestly, we didn’t think very much about animated GIFs when we designed it. Now they’re a huge part of the site. One day we received a really powerful email from someone who felt like the animated GIFs one particular day could trigger a seizure in himself. When we talked about “This site should appeal to prospective and current students,” I don’t know, you really have to think about it. Who did we imagine being our student body, and who does that leave out (regarding physical requirements, etc.)? So we’re doing some technological work on figuring out how to ensure that the animated GIFs are safe.There might be some visual things to tweak here and there. The calendar, which is such a huge part of the homepage, literally broke because of some external dependency. But this has led to this opportunistic, inventive, entrepreneurial solution where events are pasted one at a time onto the homepage. Which is neat, in its own way, but could be dialed back.
Taylor: It’s interesting how much maintenance work goes into a project like this. With it ever-changing with the times and culture, sometimes it changes in a way that excludes particular groups when that was never the true intention. Although you want users to be free to change the website however they please, there is follow-up work to be done to ensure every type of user can access the site and enjoy its beauty. The open collaboration is great, but it requires a good deal of maintenance and poses challenges that other projects that don’t allow collaboration, don’t have to deal with. Until now, I never put much thought into how difficult it is to run a collaborative project like this.Back