As I finish up on the last really critical portions of the website that are necessary to launch, I’m quite excited about what’s about to happen. Our “old” website (the black-background one w/the menu at the bottom) was developed sometime around the year 2000, maybe earlier — I can’t really remember. Anyway, it’s lasted us for more than five years! Pretty amazing when you think about it. Our new website, however, incorporates many great new features, and will serve a much more interactive and integrated role in our group. While the old website functioned mainly as a static place where information was stored, our new website can be much more. The groundwork has been laid with what we have now (pre-launch), but we have the potential to grow our website into something truly interactive.
I have just recently found a way to utilize the forums as a back-end to our website, which will allow us to offer some really neat functions like the protection of certain areas of the site for members only. We’re already using this on some of the taskforces pages so as to ensure that only those who need certain information have access to it.
Similarly, we will also be launching a command area for our staff which will expand on what they already have available to them on the UPDS. This new command area will allow staff members to have greater access to learning materials which will prepare them better for captaincy, and will put the tools close at hand that will make their job easier.
One of the things I want to mention about this new site is how much of it has been built on software that is open source. A good deal of what I’ve used to create this site has been free, like the forum integration package, called “IPB SDK.” It’s amazing how much I’ve been able to do with free stuff, and it’s definitely helped us get our website online faster.
Of course, it’s necessary to mention Ian Townsend, who put together this great template for us and made the new website a reality.
In closing, I just want to reiterate how excited I am about this new site. I think that it will really draw a lot of people into our group as they see better, cleaner, and more modern organization. The Cadets area was the first step in our facelift, and this second step will really do the trick!