Stuck into the web, but stuck in school


The trouble with school is . . . it exists - and it keeps getting in the way when you're trying to live a life. Web Works is a new web-site design company run by 17-year-old Rowan Nairn. "I'm ready for commissions," Rowan says. "The only problem is finding time between homework and school." He started messing around with computers about five years ago, and recently began designing pages for his father's company, Natural Environment Consultants. "I taught myself how to design pages, it's very easy to learn the language and work out the codes. There was a lot of trial and error involved initially but it was sort of a hobby.

"Then I started doing work for my father so I set up the company and designed pages with a friend of mine, Diarmuid Torney." Last summer the first big commission came in - designing a web site for La Leche League of Ireland, the organisation for breastfeeding help and information. Breastfeeding is not an obvious area of interest for teenage guys. "Both our mothers are La Leche League leaders," Rowan explains. "Myself and Diarmuid have known each other since we were four and met at a La Leche League annual conference! We knew they were looking for someone to design a site, and it just seemed like the obvious one for us to do."

`We didn't have a specific end product in mind when we began," Diarmuid says. "Rowan's original design was quite plain, but we built on it, trying out different graphic ideas until we came up with the present design." The design includes subtle but attractive use of animation, and a handy map of Ireland for finding where La Leche groups are active.

Graphics and design, as opposed to a passion for any particular subject matter, are what interest Diarmuid and Rowan. "We both enjoy trying out different ideas and using different graphics," Rowan says. "I like the software and the codes you use. When I leave school at the end of the year I'm hoping to do a computersoftware course, and I'd like to do something which involves design."

The main objective behind the La Leche League page design was "to make the information easy to access", Rowan says. "I have a style, which is easily navigable sites. There are a number of pages with information on different aspects of breastfeeding with this web site. It is easy to get from one page to the next and back - you always have the option of clicking on some text or an icon to get you wherever you want to go. "It's usually really frustrating trying to find stuff on the Internet."

The design is "quite straightforward", Diarmuid adds. "The site is for mothers who want easy-toread information. But with any new commissions we get, we will probably have more graphics." Not unusually for sites on the Internet, the La Leche web site's "news and events" page is currently out of date. "Well, school again," explains Rowan. "We've both been really busy since we went back, but there are plans for a media launch of the web site, so we will update pages and also develop the site a bit."

This particular job is a freebie, but once it gets properly off the ground, Diarmuid and Rowan don't anticipate much hassle with it. "The codes would be too complicated to hand the whole lot over, so we'll be stuck with it for a while," Rowan says. "But it shouldn't take up much time." Web Works is currently open to feepaying commissions. "There are lots of very poorly designed web sites out there," Diarmuid says. "We're offering good designs which are easy to navigate and have interesting graphics. But depending on what the client is looking for, it could be next summer before we'll be able to come up with a finished product!"

The URL (address) for Rowan and Diarmuid's web site is lalecheleague