The New Phonebook’s Here, The New Phonebook’s Here!

As I sit down to write this column, I have just finished reviewing the new VCBA website. This has been a work in progress for many months, and there are probably dozens of metaphors I could use to describe the feeling I have about the launch of the new site. But I’ll spare you. As happy as I am about the new site, it simply doesn’t compare with the birth of my children, or the three-day brisket we barbeque for the Fourth of July. But it is a great new website, and I expect it to be up and running by May 15th.

Before we began the design of the new site, the IT committee and the VCBA staff spent time reviewing the current site. We talked to users to find out their likes and dislikes, and we also talked to people who work in IT to get a professional point of view on changes we had in mind. That process yielded a long list of complaints – an exercise not unlike the one I endure when my family reviews what I make for dinner, or when I have to buy a new bathing suit. In any event, it turned out to be the best way to go about designing the new site, and a lot of the constructive criticism yielded some great improvements. Here’s a bit of what you will find when you visit.

The home page and the overall look and feel of the new site are quite different from the old one. The new site has a polished look, and the links to find information are intuitive. The previous home page was criticized for being too cluttered, and for having too much information posted in a somewhat scattered fashion. The new home page is cleaner, and I think you will find it easier to find what you are looking for.

The new website was built using new technology – “behind the scenes” stuff that makes it easier to keep the page updated and current. So today, for example, as I write this, the Law Day 5K is given prominence. But once May is over, we quickly and easily can – and will – start to publicize the next big event. As visitors see regular changes to the home page, they should visit more often.

As you navigate through the new site, you will discover how much easier it is to find information you are looking for. Most of what was contained in the old site is still there, but some of the content may have changed location, and some of the less-frequently used information was omitted. We have also tried to make some of the data easier to review. For example, you no longer have to scroll down multiple times to review the lists of our sections, or of our board members – small changes, but ones that make the site easier to use, which will hopefully make it used more often.

So, we’ve put a new spin on some of the same old things. But we’ve also gone beyond that, and when you visit, you will find some entirely brand new features. One of the things that I’m most excited about is our new blog. The VCBA blog is the virtual town crier for our new website. It will become the place where our bar leaders can publicize upcoming events in their sections, or where members can educate others about their practice areas or developments in the law. Some of the content you regularly see in Citations – like the President’s Message – will become blog entries, along with some content that can’t fit into the hard copy of Citations. The blog will be an electronic companion to this publication, not a substitute for it, and will also serve our members who primarily like to get their information electronically. My goal is to get regular blog entries from each of our sections, committees and affiliates, as well as current and former bar leaders.

We also have an ongoing slideshow on the home page, featuring dozens of pictures from our various events. With 35 sections, committees and affiliates, and over 122 different continuing education events in 2009, we are indeed a vibrant bar association, and this is a way to showcase the many events that go on all year long. Like the blog, the slideshow will change, as the activities carry on through the year. And I promise to keep the embarrassing pictures of each of you to a minimum.

Please visit the new site, and keep coming back.

President’s Message Part Two: It’s Nice To Know At Least Somebody Reads This Column
In last month’s President’s Message, I shamelessly wished myself a happy birthday, and invited donations to VLSP in lieu of the swag that I know you would all send my way. It was at the very end of the column, so you had to hang in there for the whole thing to see it. And while I’m certain that each and every one of my faithful readers made it to the end of my column, there was only one of you that took me up on my offer. I give many thanks to Ben Schuck, for making a donation to VLSP of $25 in honor of my birthday. Although he might have thought his donation modest, if each member of VCBA did the same, we could raise over $30,000 for legal services in the county. For those of you who missed my birthday, not to worry. Mother’s Day is here.

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