March 6, 2004

Weblog as Corporate Web Site

I’ve decided to build my Photo Album Pro web site as a weblog because I wanted to, as they say, “eat my own dog food".

I was emailing a good friend in San Francisco the other day, Steve Hagler, who runs an experiential education program at Galileo High School (it used to be called GOAPE, but has been recently changed to Get Out And Learn, or GOAL for short). I host the GOAPE web site on my servers, and Steve wanted a new web site for Get Out And Learn. I’ve been telling Steve about weblogs for a couple of years now, but I hadn’t been able to convince him that it was right for him. I believed it would be less work for him than building and maintaining a “real web site", and at the end of the school year not only would he have a better site, but he would have a record of the program that would be unmatched anywhere in the San Francisco Unified School District.

The other day Steve emailed me, “Hey, can you set up the Get Out And Learn web site?” It’s been on my list for, I hate to say it, many weeks now, but I’ve been working so hard on this Photo Album software that I kept putting it off. That and the fact that it isn’t just setting up a web site, it’s setting the DNS servers at Network Solutions, adding DNS entries to my DNS servers, creating email accounts, adding an ftp site, and only then after all that, setting up the web site.

Well, it was midnight, and Rachel was still in the States on her speaking tour, so I fired up Safari and Remote Desktop and started making the changes needed to get Steve up and running. When, two hours later, I finally got to the last item, setting up the web site, I said to myself “Ok, I’m going to see if I can’t get Steve on the weblog band wagon this year.” And so I copied the format and css of my A Year In Cornwall web log, and created the new Get Out And Learn web site as a weblog.

But what does that have to do with “eating your own dog food” you’re probably wondering? Well, as I thought about what kind of web site I wanted for my new products Photo Album and Photo Album Server, I realized that if I truly believed that Steve’s outdoor education program would be better served by a weblog, then why wouldn’t my product be better served by a weblog as well?

And there you have it, I’m going to build this web site as a weblog. I’ll write entries discussing the product features, show screen shots, write documentation, even answer user questions. And I’m hoping that if I do it right, I’ll have something that will serve my users better than the typical corporate web site. Check back and see if I’m right.

p.s. Steve emailed me this morning and told me he’d written his first entry. It’s a great first entry, and already I feel like I know more about his program than I did from his old web site. if he keeps it up, he’s going to have a dynamite web site by the end of the school year.

Posted by: Frank @ 3:14 pm — Filed under:

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