Friday, 16 January 2009

Small is beautiful

I wanted to report on two small-scale TASH meetings this morning, the first with Steve Collier and Danny Monaghan; the second with Luke Desforges, all of whom are from LeTS in various guises. Willy, Chris, and myself discussed with them the structure of the resource, and made some really good progress on thinking about how it can achieve what we want.

Essentially, we've simplified and stripped back the structure to make it easier for users to navigate and find what they want. This has involved slightly re-thinking our division of skills and clarifying what fits where (sometimes, understandably, in more than one place), and drawing up rough typologies of users of the site. We guess there will be people coming to it for the first time, and needing to see what it does overall; those who will be familiar with the general idea, and wanting to develop specific areas; and others who will come in very focussed, looking for something to help them solve a particular problem. The ways we offer to navigate the site should cater for all of these (and more), and getting the structure right is essential for making sure it's used in the most effective ways. We also (excitingly and a little geekily) discussed some of the add-ons we could use for the site - stars for users to review resources (a la Amazon), tag clouds (an idea filched from Canterbury Christ Church), this week's top ten resources, and so on.

The meeting with Luke sketched out a Theory of Change for the project, so we know what we want to do, and how we know whether we've done it. This is in its final draft stages, so will be available from the main project pages in the next few weeks. What I gained from the process is a clearer sense of the timescale of the project, and also of the scope - there's plenty it'd by *useful* to do achieve through it, but they're not necessarily all *essential*. Doing the Theory of Change helped filter out the essential from the useful, and keep our ambitions more grounded in reality - less Napoleon, more Nye Bevan.

There are lots of small things for us to do next, and plenty of hands to do them. The next immediate deadline is the end of Feb for creating content that Danny and Steve can turn into a testable resource. We'll see how things go from there...