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Web Redesign | An Interview with Timothy Esposito

by Matthew Milsop
One of the most important ways the Society for Technical Communicators communicates with the world is through its websites. The Society itself has its own site as do many individual chapters. And, while it has served a good purpose over the years, there is always room for improvement. Good websites are not static things. Web design is not a static field, either. Along with styles, the actual coding has advanced over the decades, especially as technology allows for more expressive communication.

More importantly, the needs of the users have changed. Websites are no longer accessed strictly from computers. Phones have internet browsers and some computing systems are as thin as booklets. Web code created even five years ago may no longer be adequate. Accessibility becomes a major problem and, with that, communicating the message of the organization. When this happens, web redesign is needed.

Heading up the redesign of STC's main website is Timothy Esposito. Timothy is currently the Board of Directors as a secretary for STC. He has been a past president Philadelphia chapter, a Fellow, and a member since 2005. He has been a technical writer since the year 2000 and works for Oracle software, his position a Senior principal technical writer. His group at Oracle makes logistics software, used in the shipping industry to load freight and route it around the world. 

Timothy became a technical writer because he enjoyed helping others and enjoyed creating documentation. He became a member of STC at the suggestion of a former boss who pointed out the opportunities for career growth and the great networking opportunities. She sponsored Timothy and the rest is history.

Timothy was given the task to help with the redesign of the STC website. The CEO of STC, Liz Pohland asked Timothy to organize a team to review the site and make recommendations. STC has begun working with a new company, Association Headquarters (AH). AH handles the maintenance of the website, while STC provides the content. Timothy's team was started in September 2020 and has a one year lifespan. It is all unpaid volunteer and, if needed, its existence will be extended for another year.

Timothy said, “We will see what we can get done. It's volunteer work. It all depends on what time we have available.”

Timothy said the STC site did not have comprehensive plan for several years. He explained when changes were made, when content was added, it was done in an organic process. In other words, most updates and changes were not done with a large goal or vision for the site in mind.

The website taskforce team will try to reverse engineer the entire website. Timothy explained the team has a collective experience in user interface design. What they are able to do and what they accomplish is all based on how they can leverage their experience. They have several goals, such as deciding the best way to structure the content. Soon they will have a sandbox for this website, allowing them to mock up changes to the site. This way they can test, observe reactions, and learn from it, before changing the live site.

One of the bigger goals is to make the site more user friendly.

Timothy explains they are making all kinds of discoveries about the site. “If a person stepped away from a portion of the site,” Timothy explained, “their replacement might not know to take over that person's work. We found corners with abandoned projects.”

Another goal they have is a technology audit. The STC site is built on the WordPress system, using a variety of plugins. Part of the project is to review all of the plugins to ensure they are being used and are up to date. 
“We need to strip everything down to make it as simple as possible. But, we have to do it carefully,” Timothy explained, “If you take it out, does something else break?” He adds, “We've already cleared up dead end pages. But there is still a great deal of things that need to get done.”