Tim Berners-Lee invented the worldwide web in 1989, publishing the first website in 1991. In the 26 years that have followed, the internet has exploded. There are now over one billion websites, with more being created each day. 3.75 billion people have access to the internet around the world, including 93% of the UK population. The web is now used for a plethora of activities, from shopping to accessing government services, from finding information to sharing it. In fact, according to Ofcom, the average adult in the UK spends more time online than doing anything else.
A lot has changed in those 26 years. In 1991, I was at college in Basingstoke studying for my A-levels and deciding what to do next. Many of our members weren’t even born, and even more were yet to decide that research management was their career of choice. Little did we know that the web would become the main way we now interact, both personally and professionally.
It was these interactions – or rather, lack of them – that was the driving force behind the recent launch of new ARMA web pages. You told us – through the member survey and other discussions – that the old site was tired, difficult to navigate, and failed to support the kinds of conversations you wanted to have, or the community you wanted to build. And with a platform that was no longer being supported in the UK, we were compelled to revitalise the website to make it a real member benefit.
We worked with external web developers to create a new approach to the website, with the ‘member dashboard’ at the centre. The site structure built on feedback from the member survey, discussions with the SIG champions, the experience of the developers, the administrative role of the Executive Office, and good practice from other professional bodies. We also looked at professional social networking sites, like LinkedIn, to help us understand the level of interactions that might be useful. The development also included building a new member database, so that we are better able to understand – and respond to – the make-up and needs of our membership. The database also provides a much more stable, and integrated, platform, and allows us to prepare for GDPR, the new data regulations.
On the member dashboard itself, our focus has been on creating opportunities to share information, ideas and good practice. Enhanced functionality includes discussion boards, for SIGs, qualifications and more; access to online resources; and the ability to post job adverts and search for job opportunities. Members can update their information, to create a LinkedIn-type profile, and they can search for, like and follow other members. They can also post articles and messages, and contact their network directly through the website.
Of course, this isn’t the end of the process, just a first step. The website will continue to evolve over time. We’ll build-up the content, and encourage you to add and share your own ideas. We’re also looking at additional functionality, to make the new website work even better for our members. But most of all, we want you to engage with your website and let us know what you think.
Top 10 tips for getting the most from your website
- If you haven’t already, then reactivate your membership, so you can access the member database. You will have received email instructions about how to do this, but if you can’t find them, just get in touch. [email firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Update your profile. We’re hoping that all ARMA members will tell the community about their expertise and interests, to help you make useful connections with your peers.
- Subscribe to the SIG discussion groups. You can keep track of any or all of the SIG discussion groups, but to get notifications, you’ll have to subscribe. There’s no limit to the number you can sign up to, and you can post, comment or just be an observer.
- Access your member discounts for events. Signing into the dashboard will enable you to take advantage of the member discounts we offer for our events. Prices have also been reviewed to ensure value for money.
- Follow our news stories. The website now enables us to post more interesting news stories, and we’re using the functionality to keep the community up to date with what’s happening.
- Looking for a new job? Then keep an eye on the jobs board. With members now able to post opportunities themselves, the jobs board is more useful than ever before.
- If you’re thinking of developing new skills, as a member you can sign up to the ARMA qualifications. We’ve captured all the information online in one place, and we’ll be building up the resources over the coming weeks and months.
- Find useful resources to inform your role. Each of the SIGs has a resources page, with links and files that are relevant to that SIG community. Want to see things added? Then get in touch with your SIG champion or email email@example.com.
- As well as SIG resources, you’ll also find information about the Association and guidance on current issues if you visit the Knowledge Hub. This section will build over time, so let us know what you’d like to see here.
- Most of all, we’d like you to use the website to connect with the ARMA community. Follow other members, find friends and share your ideas. That’s what ARMA is all about!
Dr Jo Edwards
Director, Lucidity Solutions Ltd
Jo has a background in higher education, first completing a DPhil at the University of Sussex and then working across three Scottish universities in strategy and policy roles. Since 2014, she has run her own consultancy business, working with small businesses, universities, and other educational institutions on strategy, business process, and communications. In 2016, Jo completed some consultancy work for ARMA, which led to a 6-month stint as Interim Chief Operating Officer. Jo is continuing her relationship with ARMA, and working on a range of other projects. When not working, she enjoys photography, reading and being out in the woods. She moved to Scotland from the south of England nearly 12 years ago and now lives in the beautiful Stirlingshire countryside with her 10 year old daughter, a cat, a fish and a lumberjack.