In early 2016 I finally accepted a long-term request to help friends at Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery, a non-profit Tibetan Buddhist Nunnery based in Northern India, to develop their Archive.
They hoped to create a centralised archive of all the audio-visual material of teachings given by their director, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and make these teachings available to her international support base. But when I arrived it quickly became clear that the first step in this process was to build their new website, and this became the main focus of my 5 month contract.
The old website still looked good, but the DGL team had never been happy with the information design, as it lacked clarity about the relationship between the founder and Abbess, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, and the Nunnery itself.
Jetsunma is the main focal point of international interest in and funding for the Nunnery (the URL of the site is of course www.tenzinpalmo.com), but the interwoven information about the two was confusing for visitors to the site. Additionally, Jetsunma wanted to ensure that the site would support the Nunnery far into the future, beyond the tenure of her Abbess-ship, so it was important to distinguish her life and teaching from the operations of the Nunnery.
The DGL team had been involved in tense negotiations to make changes to the site for almost 6 years before I came on board. During this time the software had become almost non-functional and they hadn’t been able to update any information on the site for more than a year. I had previously worked with Brian, the web developer, on the Tushita Meditation Centre website and DGL were therefore keen that I step in and help make their often quite different wishes for the website design manifest. This involved diplomacy, lateral thinking and practical skills in CMS management.
Brian and I collaborated in the same way as we had on the Tushita build; he worked on the technical aspects while I extensively restructured the information design of old site into the new one, researching and writing articles, editing old text and images, and uploading galleries, sound and video files.
I’m very happy with the outcome of the information re-design, security and ease-of-use of the site for both user and client. However, the aesthetic of the site was more of a compromise. A lot of diplomatic effort went into meeting the multiple stakeholders’ desires for the look of the site and while I would have made different choices if the site had been my own, I’m satisfied that we maximised client satisfaction.
The completed site is active on www.tenzinpalmo.com.