why creating a school site was a disaster

I'm not a detail person. I mmispell works frequently and often my speller check won't pick it up. I don't notice when my shoe is untied. I forget to brush my horse. My wife has been known to write "Wash Me" onto the coat of dirt of the poor mare. I'm sure she has a complex by now.

So, I was the wrong person chosen to design a site for the school. It began fairly innocuous. My principal pulled me aside and said, "Techno-Tommy, I have a great opportunity for you."

Internally, I cringe when he uses the term "opportunity," when in fact, I can never turn it down. The correct term is "coercion."

"I need you to build our school a site."

"Build it? I'm not exactly a construction worker. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a fop."

"Nonsense, Techno-Tommy. You're a creative man. I've seen the way you sketch and paint. There's a whole program set up for you. All you need to do is design it. You can set up one of those fancy plogs you talk about and design it like a visitor center."

So, I begin the process and enjoy it. I invite students to help take pictures and write sections of the site. I use various paper colors to design the layout. When it is done, I invite people to come tour our visitors site.

"You'll love it. It's like there is a whole web of information all in one site. I call it a website. It has our calendar and our contact information and bulletin boards with updates from sports and, well, just come out and see it."

Five people visited the site and only one had anything positive to say. I received notes of "constructive feedback" asking me to add more pictures or switch to stock photography because apparently having pictures that look like all other sites is quintessential for looking "professional." Two teachers informed me that their subject didn't have enough information. They pointed out any place where a line of text wasn't centered or any dates missing from the calendar. I knew it wasn't personal, but it hurt.

A few teachers pulled me aside, "Why did you use holiday break instead of Christmas Break? Are you trying to take the Christ out of Christmas?"

"I assure you that it was only to include our students of other faiths. I'm a big fan of Jesus, really I am."

"What about Columbus Day?"

"I didn't include it, because we don't get the day off from school. Besides, stealing land, committing genocide and then claiming it in the name of God and country is nothing to celebrate."


What's hard is that I can't imagine the same feedback in other areas. When the band performs, do people feel the need to tell the band director what colors the students should wear and what songs they should select? When the baseball team plays, do the staff members send letters to the manager explaining what position each player should play or a note to the custodian about how low the grass should be cut?

To make matters worse, the site is hosted at the district office and I no longer have a key to our supply cabinet. Thus, I can't update the site as often as I had hoped. The process has turned out to be a bit of a disaster.

I tell Mr. Brown that it's a mudslide and he informs me that it's an avalanche. A Mudslide is a drink ordered by pansies who are afraid to have a pint but are also too coward to admit they want a milkshake.

Mr. Brown explains it to me, "They chose you because you're a pencil geek and you know technology. But know one looked at the human side of the job. If I had done this, I would have created a staff survey, interviewed staff members individually and made each person feel like it was their site. I'd smile and pretend to listen to their feedback and then end up doing it my way. But Tommy, we both know that's not you. Ultimately, you're an introvert and those in leadership never considered the issue of personality when choosing you for the job."


  1. Now why didn't you include a link to this site? I really love Brown's exposition in the last paragraph. If it is anything like Social Voice, then nobody should complain.


    Nothing like a dynamic website without an administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.