I'd like some advice about a work project. I know there are many wise and teched-up folks on this friendslist; if anyone has anything to suggest I'd be keen to hear it.
I'm leading a project to completely revise the website of the research centre I manage (current site: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/cacr/
The vision we've developed seems, to me, entirely doable in the current state of play on the web, but I haven't ever encountered anything quite like it. I'm wondering if I'm missing something!
The short version is this:
- The Centre has a bunch of researchers and students attached to it who are all working on their different stuff. Much of this stuff is of interest to researchers outside the Centre.
- It also has relationships with a bunch of external agencies (government and NGOs) who like to know what's going on.
- At the moment communication isn't working well among all these points.
What we're keen on:
- Something that feels like Facebook for Centre users - they update their own profiles, create event pages when they organise a public talk or a seminar, create project pages for the pieces of work they're pursuing, etc.
- Much of this is collaborative, so users can attach themselves to events and projects they are involved in.
- Everything is database-driven and updates dynamically.
- All activity across the site feeds out to Centre users so they can see what's going on.
However, this isn't a working environment - this is a communications environment. The main audience that all this content is set for is external govt and NGOs and researchers.
So for outside users, it doesn't look like Facebook, it looks like a content-rich website with clean navigation. On the homepage you can see upcoming events, and recently updated projects; you can look at all the staff profiles and search through themes to find related projects (either ongoing or archival). Etc.
I've checked out Ning, SAKAI, various Wiki approaches, and the institution's current CMS and none of them can do this. I begin to suspect we're going to have to find a developer with some chops to build a custom tool.
So tell me, LJ friendslist: is this a sensible kinda vision? is it way harder than it seems? is it, in fact, way easier than it seems?
I await your wise counsel...