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ASK THE STAFF

May/June, 2010

Different websites offer members unique content

The question for this issue is answered by James Russell, IASB associate executive director/communications.

Question : I haven’t really used the Association’s website or the Members-Only website. What’s the difference and what are the benefits?

Answer : The Association operates two websites. One is available to the public at www.iasb.com. The other is password-protected and is available only to those in the membership database. That includes board members, superintendents and board secretaries. The Members-Only site is located at http://members.iasb.com.

While both websites share a similar look and feel, they are designed for entirely different purposes. Both have benefits for all members, yet the intent and content of each site is unique.

The public website is the larger of the two. Because it’s recognized as the “front door” to the Association, the material, documents and information is made available to members and prospective members alike. It is also widely used by school administrators, secretaries, attorneys, education professors, media and parents, among others.

In essence, it’s a “repository” of what the Association is and offers. You can find hundreds of documents and surveys, buy books, CDs or videos, and find a complete calendar of board training events and register for them online at this site.

The popularity and use of the Association’s public website was evident in 2009, as the number of page views topped 1 million for the first time.

Page views, which are generated each time a visitor views a page on the website, regardless of how many “hits” are generated, totaled 1,006,724 for the year and averaged 83,894 each month. That compares to a 2008 total of 999,959 page views, or a monthly average of 83,300.

Web traffic is monitored and the data is compiled monthly to help determine what content and features are accessed, how they are accessed, and ultimately, what improvements or updates can be made to the site.

The home page is the most popular (148,570 views in 2009), followed by the IASB member directory (59,728 views). Other popular directories and databases include the calendar of events, service associates and school attorneys.

The IASB website, which was launched in 1996 and redesigned in 2008, has more than 1,700 pages online. They are organized by five primary categories of services in blue tabs across the top of the page: member services, policy services, school law, governmental relations and board development.

Links to specific departments and audiences are organized along the left side of the home page. The home page also includes a variety of colorful “refers” that highlight what’s new or timely. Rotating ads at the bottom of the page also reinforce specific products or services.

Shortcuts to popular pages are included in “Quick Links,” a drop-down menu at the upper left side of the home page. That’s also where the search engine is located. More than 2,475 searches are conducted monthly on the Association website.

If you want to stay abreast of website changes, you can sign up for a free e-mail subscription service, “IASB Online Update,” at this link:https://www.iasb.com/elinks.cfm.

In addition to a staff directory by department, e-mail and phone extension, the website has an online feedback form for those seeking general information, available at: https://www.iasb.com/feedback.cfm.

In contrast to the public website, the Members-Only site is narrow in focus and function.

Launched in 2008, this website is designed to give members access to their personal board development records; participate in surveys; monitor Association governance; create a personal schedule planner for the Joint Annual Conference; and access panel handouts from the conference.

Many members use this site to track their credits for core and elective courses taken as part of the School Board LeaderShop Academy. They also can track their points in the Master Board Member program, for their service and participation in various IASB and/or NSBA activities within and beyond their local districts.

This year, the conference schedule was viewed 510 times, and 301 schedules were created and downloaded for use at the conference. Since the close of conference, 1,470 panel handouts have been downloaded from the Members-Only site.

In addition to these features, a content management system allows IASB staff to “target” audiences within the membership with messages and announcements on the Members-Only site.

Such announcements can be directed to board presidents, superintendents, secretaries, board vice presidents or ROEs. The messages also can be tailored by state, county, division or district visibility, and even by division officers or directors, or IASB field service directors.

So whether you are looking for a needle or the entire haystack, you can probably find both at these websites. Online access is part of the Association’s mission to promote excellence in local school governance and support for public education.

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