Maine Area Website Design Report Web Development Committee April 2006

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1 Maine Area Website Design Report Web Development Committee April 2006 This report summarizes the process involved in the creation of a newly designed website to replace the Maine area website maintained by the PI committee at namaine.org. Large changes in any community are often met with some skepticism. One of the troubling aspects of this process for us was the lack of local area guidelines specific to this complicated and very public resource. This report is intended to acquaint the Maine area with the principles we considered in our decision making throughout the process. Why a new website? We would like to acknowledge the time, care, creativity, and effort that the previous web masters have put into our website. There were no major problems with the previous namaine.org website and our area has been well served by it. Their research, ideas, and outcomes have been central to our design decisions. With any new technology, as the years pass people become more aware of its strengths and weaknesses. This new design is intended to reflect what we have learned from maintaining a website over the past several years as well as our areas growth and the likelihood of an increase of sophisticated users that visit our site. This paper is in three parts representing different aspects of our process. First we outline the major practical considerations. Second we consider the Twelve Traditions, Twelve Concepts, and our relationship with the WSO and NAWS as it relates to our website. Last we will present our suggestions on how to move forward and the future of the namaine.org website. Major Considerations 1. Purpose Principles: Humility, Clarity, Unity There is a lot of excitement about the promise of the web. The principle of humility compels us to recognize that the web has strengths and weaknesses. If we are swayed by all the hype we run the risk of expecting a website to do things it is not designed for. The website is our introduction to an increasing number of people. This is a diverse population of local and world wide NA members, newcomers, professionals, and researchers. We feel we have the best chance of success if we clearly define what our website is and what it is not, and steer clear of internal and external controversies. Our website will perform different functions for different people.

2 a. Newcomers We consider newcomers and people who think they might be addicts to be of primary concern to our web site. The NA message of recovery is predominantly carried by our members at our meetings. Although the web can broadcast information very well, it was not designed to convey the belonging, compassion, empathy, identification, and therapeutic value of one addict helping another that have proven to be indispensable in carrying a spiritual message of recovery in NA. We feel that steering an addict toward a meeting gives that addict the best chance of hearing our message. We do not try to explain the whole program to them or link them to other websites that will take the focus away from getting to a meeting. The web is full of websites with all things NA. Any surfer can find all the literature and catch phrases of NA at a thousand different websites simply by googling NA. Our approach is a humble, clear, unified message. When a local addict finds our website they are sure to find this simple uncluttered message: Addicts in Maine do recover through the NA program. We suggest you go to a meeting or at least call our helpline. b. Professionals & Researchers Our web presence is an easily available resource for professionals who are looking for information and services related to addiction and recovery in our community. We believe that this makes the website the de facto primary public relations resource for the Maine Area Service Committee. Our purpose in this area is to offer a clear, intuitive, easy to navigate, content rich website with a unified look and feel. Because our reputation in the community reflects on our fellowship as a whole, presentation, correctness of content, and a timely response to inquiries are important. Humility dictates that we should be sure that whatever resources we claim to provide are in fact in place. We are a small, mostly rural area that does not yet have the resources to offer all the services that a larger metropolitan area might be able to. We are clear about our relationship with others from the home page and direct them to the appropriate contact or informational web page. c. Local NA Members Our purpose is to provide a means of communication between the various service committees and the Maine area fellowship. In the interest of unity we have placed the service related pages in an area of the website that is only accessible through a virtual portal. Users that visit the service page are presented with information about the nature of service in NA and the local Maine area before they can access the various Maine area committee pages. Our intent is to create a distinction between the unified purpose of carrying the message to the addict who still suffers and the bureaucratic and sometimes controversial realities of service in NA.

3 2. Ease of maintenance Principles: Simplicity, Functionality Group servants, webmasters, committee members come and go. We tried to design a website that would be easy to understand by the trusted servants who are responsible for its content as well as the webmaster that is responsible for keeping the content up to date. a. Quickly and easily update meeting list We considered timely updates for meeting lists to be critical to a useful website. For Functionality, we have created a form that any addict can access to instantly deliver new meeting information to the web master via . The web master can then review the material to insure it is appropriate and meets the requirements for a meeting listed on the site. For simplicity a template is provided clearly detailing where the information should be placed and each change only needs to be made at one place on the website. b. Usable with little training for web master Third party software such as FrontPage, Dreamweaver, or Netscape Composer, requires some training and adds unnecessary complexity to the HTML code that produces the web page. Not using third party software leaves maintenance open to a broad range of members with varying degrees of computer knowledge. This also preserves functionality across a broad range of hosting companies and web browsers. By using a simple template design and an online tutorial a user with basic home computer skills can learn to maintain this website in a very short time. c. Intuitive file structure The basic elements of the web pages are stored in clearly named folders. Each service committee has a folder with web pages that are associated with them. This is a simple and highly functional way for subcommittees to review and submit changes to their specific areas of the site. It is easy for the webmaster to locate and update pages as well as identify and remove unused files. d. Simple basic functionality By excluding extras such as moving text or scripts like the clean time calculator, overall complexity is greatly reduced. Enforcing page and font styles through CSS (cascading style sheets) and SSI (server side includes), functionality is guaranteed on all browsers. We used only the most basic and broadly supported technologies at all stages of design.

4 3. Links, lists, calculators and games Principles: Clarity, Simplicity, Unity In the early years of the internet, searching for a web page was difficult. Links between pages that contained similar content was a groundbreaking concept in how people access information. Without a link to, say, the Montana NA meeting list from some NA page that you knew about, you might spend a long time searching using search engines that required specialized syntax. Today s search engines easily perform such tasks in a fraction of a second. In fact, it is easier and more convenient for even a novice user to google for an NA meeting list rather than use a website link. This profound evolution has made us rethink the principles behind links and web knickknacks. Much of the content that made good sense 5 or 10 years ago is redundant and creates informational noise that obscures our clarity of purpose. In the interest of simplicity, clarity, and unity of purpose we chose to end some practices that have become functionally obsolete. a. Links to other areas We chose not to link to other areas directly as the diminished convenience of it does not justify the added responsibility of maintaining these links. We do link to the NA World Service website that maintains a comprehensive world-wide meeting list. Linking directly to other areas would require regular checks to the linked pages as well as all pages those pages link to. The enormity of this task increases at an exponential rate for each single link that is included. This is discussed in relation to the sixth tradition below. b. Internet knickknacks Similarly, scripts, online periodicals, and interfaces such as clean time calculators, and message boards have proliferated throughout the web. These are easily available to users through commercial search engines. We believe that the controversy and/or diversion inherent in their use does not justify their presence on our website. 4. Technological considerations Because of the esoteric nature of technological considerations it is not in the scope of this report. In the broadest terms, our decisions were guided by an eye on portability, extensibility, standardization, ease of implementation, minimization of complexity, and cost. Concepts, Traditions and the FIPT The general content of the website is, to the best of our knowledge, inline with our traditions. Some design decisions are directly related to our Concepts, Traditions, and the Fellowship Intellectual Property Trust. Here is a listing of the rationale directly related to these principles and rights issues.

5 Sixth Tradition An NA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the NA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property or prestige divert us from our primary purpose. A link to outside websites is considered an implied endorsement. In keeping with the sixth tradition as well as the resource paper PI and the world wide web, we do not link to ANY websites that may link to non-na sanctioned websites. Tenth Tradition Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films. We believe that if these traditions were written today the tenth tradition would include the internet in its list of media. We have chosen to not to use more sophisticated graphic tools and animations. These tools are generally used to entertain and impress visitors as a way of promoting a website. Eighth Concept Our service structure depends on the integrity and effectiveness of our communications. Our website can be a very effective tool for communication to our members and the professional community. Incoming communication is in the form of s to addresses associated with the various service committees. Lost s or s that sit in peoples inboxes too long can reflect poorly on our area or worse yet, leave a suffering addict alone and hopeless. To ensure that the integrity of these communications is maintained, we have recorded all s that are sent to committee addresses. Responding to these s is a critical and time sensitive responsibility that can become overwhelming to a single addict. It is our hope that the area will follow up on these communications at each meeting to insure they have been responded to appropriately. The final responsibility for the integrity of our communications lies with the entire service body, not a single member. Fellowship Intellectual Property Trust (FIPT) Use of NA approved literature by members and areas is well defined in the FIPT. The information we have copied and reprinted on our website is informational bulletins available from world and not NA approved recovery literature. We do not post any NA approved literature but we do have a resource page that includes a link to the WSO website and information about the resources available there.

6 A vision for the future The Maine Area of NA website is a critical, sensitive, complex, and highly visible service resource. Although this report discussed many aspects associated with it, there are many more issues that we did not include. Up to this point the design, content, and maintenance have been left to the discretion of the single addict that is given the responsibility of webmaster. We believe this is impractical and unfair to both the webmaster and the area that is serviced by the website. We recommend that a set of guidelines specific to the website and in keeping with the Twelve Concepts of Service be created. These guidelines should include a clear description of the tasks, training, and required knowledge of the webmaster, the purpose of the website, the specific functions desired by the area, how they are to be implemented, and procedures for changing basic content. The graphic design, architecture, and basic content should be consistent. We recommend changes in these areas be guided by ad-hoc committees assembled when the area identifies a need for change and not at the discretion of the webmaster or public information committee. Non structural changes should be implemented as the need arises. The guidelines should include a procedure for requesting new services or changing existing ones so that the area can determine if the requested services are appropriate for the website. Working on this website has been a rewarding experience for us in many ways. We hope that the new website and our report are received in the spirit in which they were created. We do not presume that the opinions and decisions we have presented are what is right for our area. We have applied the principles to the best of our ability to our work and are willing to let go. We leave the rest up to a loving god as he expresses himself through the group conscience of the Maine Area of NA. Thank you so much for this opportunity. In loving service, Web Development Committee

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