Context

Context in design means that we place our work within the framework of our surroundings, that we try to give it a distinction based upon the sense of place in which we are working.

Community definition is based on constructed and social elements. We want to understand the cultural setting into which we are moving and adding elements.

Finally, we are concerned with use of immediately adjacent sites. This is likely to have great impact on design decisions because activities on them influence our site and what we do affects them.

Our design needs to respond to functional requirements of our program, from the inside out so to speak, but it also has to respond to the larger setting, from the outside in.

These words are like a splash of water in my face, especially for someone who has built community sites in the past. What is being said here is that your site doesn’t exist in its own little space (i.e. my site, my world). Your site exists upon the Web and it therefore coexists with other sites around it. By around it, I referring to where most of your visitors may come from or go to. Those are your neighbors. You probably know them already because you probably visit them frequently yourself. Therefore, when designing your site, you not only need to think about your own local framework but of the framework of those around you as well. This is even more so true today with many blogs forming communities amongst themselves.