Posts Tagged ‘databases’

The Tail Wagging the Dog – Creating the Plug In & Extras for the Website

March 8, 2009

When asked to give this speech – the one that I’ve decided to blog and then do the PowerPoint for – yeah – that one – several of the other EDs asked me to talk about the backend of the website.  Backend – I mean the ugly little code and databases that each of us need to make our website interactive for our members.  This is where it can get a little complicated – and you will probably need to have paid help in developing this part of your web presence.  I don’t mean to give a plug for our web host & all round awesome backup help – but Topnetwork has been a great part of why our members have used the website so extensively.  Also – apparently I push him to create better programming since I’m so demanding.

Before launching a new website or reworking your current site -survey your members. is an awesome little site that allows a cheap and easy way to survey members whether it’s a 3 question survey for a seminar or a 50 question membership survey.  (I wouldn’t go over 50 questions ever – no-one has that kind of time).  This is how we discovered our members like the little networking events, wanted a brief bank (although they haven’t used it yet) and LOVE the list serve.

So – they asked for it and we built the website for them – one little problem…our tracking statistics for the site doesn’t work, so I don’t know really where people are going (more on that problem later on marketing), so as to our website – who knows where people are landing.

Brief Bank – we have one that members can contribute to, and if someone offers up a brief – I put it in.  Do people use it?  Nope – they continue to ask for the same briefs from the list server.  It’s a long slow learning curve.

List Server(s) – Members love it – it’s one of their favorite things about their membership.  We have an expert witness list serve and a general list serve (for those questions who don’t fit in the section list serves or expert witness list serve).  I know some SLDOs have captured the list serve, but at this time, we have decided not to capture it.  The answers are sent to the inquirer – not to the whole list serve – so just having the question on a database seemed kind of lopsided.  One downside is that everyone gets put on the list serve when they join and have to take themselves off – which can mean a lot of technical support on our part.

Member Directory – Apparently – and I say apparently because it happened before WDTL was foolish to hire me – we stopped printing the membership directory and put it all online.  This confuses the heck out of some of the less technical of our members and they still call me and have me look up other members online for them – but for the most part it has been a good thing.  We were green before our time.  When you visit our site, and go to member services, the membership directory is right there.  This is run from the main database that not only runs our member directory – but is also the back end for registration as well.

Online Registration – this was my first project as the ED for this crowd.  I can’t tell you how much easier it has made my life.  Attendees for seminars can either send me a check and I’ll enter them online or they can register themselves online via a credit card – which is then emailed to our accountant through a secure site.  This saves countless amount of time and effort to track payments and let’s me see in real time how many people are at each event.