For this week since the instructions were simply to “think about your favorite Websites and the architectures they utilize,“ I thought I’d take this on a different track and look at one of my favorite sites by one of my favorite authors on dogs. Patricia McConnell is a Certified Animal Behaviorist and Ph.D, who teaches classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in between writing books, speaking engagements, etc. I think it fits in well with some of the ideas we’ve been thinking about this week with regards to free software (bear with me, there is a connection, at least in my mind!)
Like the philosophy behind free software, Dr. McConnell is generous with her ideas. If she has a great idea about a strategy for dog-training, she shares it in her blog, The Other End of the Leash, rather than just directly people to buy her books or DVDs or attend her seminars as seems to be the model for most others. Typically, spirited discussions ensue via the comments, which she also actively participates in and often builds on in the subsequent posts. She seems focused on helping people understand dogs (and other species too!) rather than just making a buck. Her site does sell a wide range of products, from books to dog toys (always vetted by her own Border Collies), and while she occasionally mentions this through text links if appropriate, it’s not forced.
McConnell’s philosophy is immediately evident the minute you enter patriciamcconnell.com. The header contains a number of connection points for users from the picture at top showing McConnell being kissed by an exuberant dog to the audio message (points for the site that it is an option listen, not one that automatically begins playing). Global navigation is clearly labeled with product categories (books, dvds, toys) as well as training tips, events, and blog. The left navigation expands as you enter each category to display subcategories within that area. Language throughout the site playfully uses “dog” language as in “Join the Pack” to sign up to receive notifications or “Writer of the year? Oh boy! Our tails are wagging!”