Building a Wiki-based Website
by Rick Sapir, Carolina Chapter Webmaster
What: General Membership Meeting
When: September 14, 2006
What: General Membership Meeting
When: September 14, 2006
If you haven't visited www.stc-carolina.org in a while, you're in for a surprise. In August, we began converting the site to a wiki-based CMS (content management system). This new system will reduce the amount of time spent maintaining and updating the site (a boon for the new webmaster!) and it also allows all STC Carolina members to be website contributors.
At the September 14, 2006, membership meeting, I spoke about these recent changes. This article summarizes some points made at the meeting, describes the new features of our chapter's website, and includes a tour of the new home page.
New Features of the New SiteThere are five primary features of the new site:
Wiki PagesThe majority of the content pages on the website are wiki pages. Anyone (with access) can update the pages directly from their web browser — no FTP or HTML required! Some features of the wiki pages include:
- History and version control: You can easily see what changed in each version of the page (and who changed it).
- Page monitoring: You can monitor pages that interest you (maybe the weekly job listing, or a specific SIG page) and receive an email each time the page is updated.
- Print version: Want to print a page or article? The printer-ready version of each page has no banners or menus — just the content.
CalendarCheck out the new calendar of events to find out what's going on! You can find information on upcoming meetings, socials, and events. Each item is linked to a wiki page for further details. Additionally, each time you add a new event (for example, a SIG meeting), it is automatically added to the SIGs wiki page.
Resource DirectoryNo website is complete without a list of links, right? Our resources are categorized for easy searching. If you have some useful links, please contribute them to the website.
News ItemsAny chapter member can submit a news item. This entry could be an announcement about an upcoming event, an award by a member, or maybe important regional news (such as RTP being ranked first in list of top technology centers!). The items automatically appear on the home page and, if you select an expiration date, will automatically be removed at the specified time.
ForumWe now have a chapter-specific forum to facilitate threaded conversations. (Chapter members should first log in to see the forum.) Think of the forum as an extension of the email lists — another way to interact with other chapter members. Similar to the wiki pages, you can monitor specific threads or individual posts and receive an email alert each time someone posts a new message.
Parts of the Home Page
The key parts of the new homepage are:
1. BannersThere are two ad locations on the page — a top banner and a left-column stacked banner. Right now, these areas are used to announce upcoming events (such as the membership luau and Unconference). Simply by logging in, you can add your own banner (for your SIG, event, etc.) to the site. Not only can you track the number of impressions and clicks, but you can specify how often to display a specific ad (based on day, date, or time). The administrative council is also discussing sponsorship and other advertising possibilities for these banner locations.
2. Top MenuThe top menu has been consolidated to include the following options:
- About: This category contains information about the Carolina chapter and STC in general. Topics include volunteer information, membership benefits, and website information.
- News: This category includes the latest news items. Each news item may be linked to other pages in the website.
- Calendar: This page is our chapter's calendar of events. Not only do we list upcoming meetings, but we also highlight other important dates (such as the competition's entry deadline).
- Resources: This link the primary entry to the directory of resources.
- Training: This category includes workshops and events organized by the Training committee.
- Employment: The Job Bank provides weekly job listings. These listings are available to members only for the first week, before becoming available to the general public.
- Register: If you haven't already, please take a moment to register on the website. Registration is limited to STC Carolina Chapter members, and gives you full access to the site, including member-only job listings, board information, and your own wiki pages.
- Preferences: After logging in, use this section to customize your user information and manage the pages that you are monitoring.
3. Left ColumnThe left column includes:
- Search Box: Not only can you perform a full-text search of the entire site, but you can narrow the scope of the search to specific sections, such as wiki pages, directory resources, or forum postings.
- Chapter Navigation Menu: An additional menu to this version of the website, this area provides links to chapter-specific pages, such as Chapter Leadership information, local SIGs, competitions, and conferences.
- Site Editor Menu: Site editors have access to additional menu items. This feature allows them to approve submitted news items and resources and create new wiki pages.
- Upcoming Events: Want to know about future meetings and events? The Upcoming Events area lists the next 10 items from the calendar.
- Recent News: The most recent news items are only a click away.
- RSS Feeds: The STC Carolina website offers several RSS feeds in different formats. You can subscribe to them using your favorite news reader.
4. NewsletterWe've provided a link to the current issue of the Carolina Communiqué. As before, complete issues are available in PDF format; select articles are available online in HTML.
5. Quick PollsOne of the best ways to solicit user feedback is by using polls. Right now, you can voice your opinion about the new site. Future uses of polls may include soliciting ideas for:
- Meeting topics
- Social events
6. Chapter News ItemsThe most recent news items are displayed on the homepage. These items might be notes about upcoming meetings, chapter (or STC) news, or industry highlights. Any STC Carolina member can submit a news item. When creating an item, you can specify an expiration date — the system will automatically remove the item from the page after the date you specify.
7. Syndicated News from STCDid you know that http://www.stc.org has an RSS feed for society news? We've syndicated their feed on our homepage. The most recent items from stc.org will automatically keep you up-to-date.
8. Latest Changes and Forum PostsAt a glance, you can see the last 10 changes to the site and the most recent posts in this forum area.
Your Feedback RequestedAfter you've taken time to explore the new site, we would like your feedback. Although some content may not be available (as we port pages from the old site to the new), we would like to know what you think now.
The website has a built-in tracker feature which allows you to log bugs or enhancements directly from the website.
Rick can be reached at webmaster at stc-carolina dot org. You can visit the new STC Carolina site at http://www.stc-carolina.org.