The Web should be driven by needs not visions [Debate]

We will hold a debate on the topic of how institutional Web services should be driven by the views of visionaries or by listening to users needs. The motion will be:

“The Web should be driven by needs not visions”

Speaking for the motion will be Sarah Agarwal (ILRT, University of Bristol) and Ian Upton (University of Birmingham). The speakers arguing against the motion will be Mark Stiles (Staffordshire University) and Tom Franklin (TechLearn).

The debate will be chaired by Tracey Stanley, University of Leeds.


At the IWMW 2002 event Andrew Aird from Kings College, London gave an impassioned presentation on the need for increased centralised control of the institutional Web. Andrew argued that the web is a key tool in attracting customers in an increasingly competitive global market, and as such, it should not be left to amateurs. Institutions need a strategic approach if the Web is to be used as a successful marketing tool. This includes the requirement for strict controls over content, style and presentation, and the banning of authoring tools such as Dreamweaver in favour of a centralised content management system. Web content should be produced by teams, not by individuals, and the Web team should have the ultimate say-so. Is this the way forward for the institutional Web, or will this approach lead to the eventual disempowerment of the users?