I’m happy to mention here on DesignNotes that the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) has redesigned their frontend of the site at http://gdc.net. Thanks to Mark Busse and Christina Peressini for the heads up. Unfortunately the redesign is three years late in coming and while there’s some great new additions GDC National has stood still for too long. The fact that local chapters had to create their own blogs and a number of Facebook groups speak to how people are unwilling to wait for a top down mentality. I say this as a former GDC member (Chapter Student Rep, Chapter VP of Education, Chapter President and for a brief period National VP of Communications) who unfortunately left b/c of the laisser faire attitude within National. So please keep that in mind as you read the remainder of this post.
If there’s one huge improvement to the site, it’s their homepage b/c it now looks like there’s some activity. There isn’t a time stamp to mention when new information is posted though hopefully it was just an oversight and not intentionally done. I say that only b/c if they don’t have new content they might not want to advertise how old it is. The other big improvement in my eyes is that they have recognized the need to communicate to members and the world in a efficient manner. I hope this is how they will use their blog functionality. The way the blog is currently set up I’m not too sure if they entirely know how it is going to be used. The posts that they have are chronologically set up backwards and it’s not entirely apparent who is actually posting. When it comes to posting information that members think are important to other members I would be all for giving every GDC member the opportunity to post. If you’ve passed the test to become a member you understand the responsibility of sending appropriate information. I may have missed it but I don’t see tags associated with the posts. Tagging the posts would make it easy to filter posts with user preferences. But their biggest error is that the blog nor any other part of the site is RSS feed friendly. When sites like FriendFeed or Facebook live on streaming information it makes you wonder why that wasn’t considered.
When I was the chapter President for Alberta North a couple years ago I found it incredibly frustrating to update my information as both a personal member and Chapter President with the cms provided. I can only guess if the cms has been improved. I’ve been a member of AIGA NY since my move to New York and have noticed how easy it is to update and find information on their current site. One thing that I noticed right away going from Chapter to Chapter on the GDC site is that there isn’t really a way to find out who the Chapter Executive is in a timely manner. They’re the people that run the real show and should be the face, not the static template.
I’m currently reading a review copy of the book Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. In the upcoming weeks I’ll be posting a number of quotes and eventually a review. One quote that may put things into perspective with the laisser faire attitude of the older GDC set is this. “Our electronic networks are enabling novel forms of collective action, enabling the creation of collaborative groups that are larger and more distributed than at any other time in history. The scope of work that can be done by non institutional groups is a profound challenge to the status quo”. These networks are already exist in Canada and have left the National part of the GDC behind. That’s why I mentioned above how I think the new GDC site was years behind in execution. I still have the out most respect for the local chapters trying to do what they can with their limited resources. I hope that the new site can invigorate the fact that they are the only relevant spoke-people about Graphic Design in Canada and build further momentum that may have not been as good as it could have been for the last couple of years.