Organizing a Chapter Web Site


by Scott DeLoach, Senior Member and Web Manager, Atlanta Chapter

In the last few years, the World Wide Web seems to have graduated from college and become an international superstar. TV shows, music groups, restaurants--even shampoos!-- now boast dedicated web sites. At the beginning of the 1997 term, we recognized that the growing popularity of our own web site presented a great opportunity for us to reach more members. A year later, our web site has become our primary means of communicating with our members. This article discusses the different information we currently provide and how we keep track of it.

We try to provide as much STC-related information as possible on our web site. Many members cannot attend meetings, but they are still very interested in staying informed. To meet the needs of these "virtual" members, our chapter secretary writes summaries of every chapter and board meeting for the web site. In addition, we posted our 1998-99 chapter election slate, our revised bylaws, a salary survey, and a chapter workshop survey. Members can add their resume to the resume database and learn about our faxback job line. In fact, we frequently receive feedback about the jobline service from STC members in other states and occasionally from international STC members.

For members who can attend meetings, our main draw is the monthly calendar of events. All of our chapter activities are noted and summarized, and maps to the different meeting places are provided. On our "chapter officer" page, we provide e-mail and phone numbers of each board member and SIG coordinator. In the near future, I plan to add photographs to help new members "put a name with a face" at chapter meetings.

For board members, I maintain a separate archive directory. Board members are encouraged to store any information related to their position such as letters, notes, and reports in the board member archive. An archive of past board meetings minutes and STC artwork is also available for everyone to use.

Our latest addition to the web site has been CommLink Online, an electronic version of our chapter newsletter. With CommLink Online, we can publish more articles to an international audience using words, pictures, sound, and video. And, as we continue to scan and tag every article from our 18 year old newsletter, our web site is becoming an invaluable record of our chapter's history. Its Place
How do we keep track of all of this information? Internally, our web site is divided into three separate sections: the main web site, board information, and CommLink. The main web site is updated at least weekly and is redesigned around the major holidays for each month. The HTML files are stored in our root directory and the images are stored in a sub-directory. Since the page redesign includes a new banner and often small clip art, I also maintain a directory called "not_used" to store older images.

The board information is maintained in an unlinked directory and is updated about three times a month. Each board member is provided their own sub-directory, and general files are stored at the top level. Board members email their files to me, and I post them when I upload the latest changes.

CommLink occupies the lion's share of our web space. A complete, 10-15 file "issue" is posted monthly and updates and corrections are usually made about once a week. Each CommLink issue, including CommLink Online, has its own sub-directory that contains its graphics and HTML files. CommLink Online is currently created with RoboHTML so that we can begin offering HTMLHelp versions of each issue later in the year.

Final Thoughts
As you can see, we maintain a lot of files on our web site. Keeping everything in very discrete sections really helps when I have to track down broken links and other problems. It also makes updating the site much easier. Based on our feedback so far, our efforts have definitely made an impact in increased membership and member participation.