The Dated News Item On the Front Page

So, here is one of our pet peeves which is both a design management and content management issue for associations and other organizations:

The dated news post on the front page.

What do these organizations have in common?

The answer: They all have items headlined as News, dated from February 2013, taking up valuable space on their front pages.

Most of the time that you see such items on front pages, they come from web site codiing that takes the most recent Nth items that have been posted as news in the news subsection of the site, and shares them on the front page… and there hasn’t been enough news posts to have it scroll off.  Or they have been coded as also front page items and they just haven’t been decoded to not show up on the front page.

In either case there has been a disconnect between the content management of the site and the design structure of the site, and the result is a front page that blares at the visitor that content is DATED on the site (whether this is true or not). 

Content management SOUNDS easy.  Just make sure you post something online every x number of days, keep the main pages current, WALAA!   Except that’s not really how it goes.  Organizations have approval processes for information release – intent, content, audience, format, design.  Every step can slow the process down for purposes of the web – or make it less than useful to post in a high profile position such as the front page.  When the site is being design – particularly when looking at how the various elements of the front page should be prioritized – there should be honesty in assessing how flexible the organization is – and how committed the organization is – to getting information to site visitors in a high profile way. 

The design can complement that honesty.  If your organization is only going to release one front-page worthy item a month, then don’t design the site to show the 5 most recent items.  If your organization is going to be spotty and irregular about posting such content, then don’t commit at all – just provide a space that can have more static information on the front page, but if the need arises for something more dynamic in a high profile placement, you can do it.

And if your organization DOES want to commit to more regular content on the front page that is NEWS, then set up the internal infrastructure to get it done.  Calendar it, not only as a release point but also how it should coordinate with the efforts of the organization in other facets of its existence.  Coordinate it.  It will not write itself – but it will get easier if it is planned ahead and coordinated.