Yesterday a site I designed went live. My employer had taken over management of an online academic journal—the Journal of Humanitarian Assistance—but in its 1994-2006 version, the method was simply to post the text on static HTML pages or as PDFs.
When we took it over, it was clear there was a lot of potential for relaunching the site on blogging software—Wordpress—so that readers could give the authors direct, public feedback. While there are journals covering the same topic (Disasters Journal for example), ours is the only one set up to allow academic-quality writing with turnaround times of a month or less. This means, for better or worse, JHA isn’t peer-reviewed, but when a humanitarian crisis hits, researchers can get feedback almost right away.
Even though there was a built-in readership, I was shocked to fire up JHA this afternoon and see 9 comments on the newest article. It’s reassuring that after 24 hours a) the site works and b) the site works for the various kinds of people reading it. But the best thing of all is that something that challenged my coding knowledge ending up doing what it was intended to do, on time, and isn’t ugly.
There’s still more work to do. There are some bugs in the archives, our work-study folks will take months to get the 1994-2006 articles formatted and posted, and I haven’t done nearly enough testing for cross-browser compatibility, accessibility, and page sizes (the front page is 213kb, not acceptable for our readers in Africa). But it’s up, it works, and people like it. I’m very proud.