Announcing the redesigned SLA website

When the Society for Linguistic Anthropology was discussing a site redesign, I volunteered to be an advisor. When they started talking about paying thousands of dollars to a web designer who designed static sites which failed to conform to web standards, lacked an easy to use administrative backend and contained no integrated blog or rss feeds, I offered to do the site for free.

Well, you get what you pay for. The new SLA website may not be pretty, but it does have an RSS feed!

Society for Linguistic Anthropology

The site is very much in beta, and we decided to simply replicate much of the content form the old site before adding any new features, so stay tuned for some exciting developments down the road. For those who are interested, the site is just a WordPress install with a standard theme – nothing more. I think it took less than an hour to get it up and running. The hard part is migrating the old content over to the new site and educating and training SLA folks about how the new site works. Fortunately I have an assistant helping me with all that, and the SLA folks have been incredibly supportive.

One exciting thing about the new AAA website is that it will offer better content management systems for sections who want to host their sites on aaanet, but considering how long it takes the AAA to roll out changes to the site, we decided to do it ourself. Hosting is provided by Blue Host for less than $7 a month (including the domain name). Having gotten burned by discount webhosts in the past I was a little apprehensive, but so far we’ve been quite happy with them. They offer one-click WordPress installs via Fantastico, which made setting things up that much easier.

(NOTE: That “edit this” link you see at the bottom is only visible to registered administrators. The site is not some kind of a wiki – but it does make it easier to make changes on the fly. WordPress is also what powers Savage Minds.)

3 thoughts on “Announcing the redesigned SLA website

  1. Kerim, it’s beautiful. And by beautiful, I mean it doesn’t look all corporate and expensive and hence scary. It looks like an academic website should look. It’s functional. It doesn’t have pictures of happy people skipping through meadows of wildflowers like a pharmaceutical company’s website. And it was free.

    Can I tell you a little secret? I’m not going to sign my name on this one because it’s probably not a secret I should tell. In the last place where I was employed, a sort of medical-organization that we work with collaboratively got a grant from a big name Foundation to revamp a medical information website that we ran. The grant was for $400,000. We — I mean me and the other people who ran the website and maintained it on a daily basis by adding new stuff and keeping it updated and hence useful — got none of that money. Well, actually, there was a meeting with sandwiches and they might have paid for the sandwiches. It all went… I don’t know where, but I think most of it went to the dumbass company that redid the website. And in the end it was no more functional, in my opinion, than the previous ugly but functional website. All that $400,000 bought was spent on giving it a slick new corporate look that makes it look like it’s sponsored by a pharmaceutical company (even though it’s not) and probably scares people off.

    Can you believe the money people waste on stuff? Couldn’t that $400K have been better spent buying mosquito nets or something for places where people die of malaria?

  2. I very much agree with @next time. The pages are simple and functional, which make them beautiful. No nonsense, uninformative media and the reader knows where to find what without guessing.

    I wish more pages were like that. Good work!

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