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    Inside the Bar: Fresh Paint

    A fresh coat of paint goes a long way, but curb appeal alone only gets you so far. The State Bar’s redesigned Web site is crisp and fresh, and the content is more accessible and easier to use.

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 82, No. 6, June 2009

    by George C. Brown, executive director

    George BrownSix years ago last month, the then newly redesigned WisBarTM was launched. Since then, several small changes have been made, but the State Bar Web site you see today is essentially the same creature relaunched in 2003 (the Web site premiered in 1995). In Web site designs, six years is a very long time. In Internet years, the current WisBar is an old house. It is time for a fresh coat of paint.

    The key to a Web site’s long-term success is to keep it fresh, relevant, timely, and responsive to user needs. As an example of things the State Bar is doing to build on WisBar’s success and meet member needs, in recent months you have seen more news items on the site’s front page. But accommodating that increased news coverage and other enhancements has caused design and technical challenges. These will be addressed with the launch of an updated WisBar in early summer.

    You will notice many of the changes right away. First, the site is more directly identified as being a resource of the State Bar of Wisconsin. The name “WisBar.org” no longer appears on the home page – or any internal page – header. You also will notice that there is more news, more often on the front page. The launching of InsideTrack, the State Bar’s electronic newsletter, in February was an early indication of the State Bar’s commitment to providing you with as much legal news as quickly as possible. The updated Web site will feature a redesigned left-hand news section to provide expanded news coverage, allowing for more articles and allowing them to stay available longer on the front page before being archived. The archive also will be expanded so that you can find all news stories on the site (sorted by topic) instead of just those originally available on the home page.

    The updated site will be easier to navigate. The top-of-the-page dropdown navigation was popular when first introduced, but many of the dropdowns are hard to control or overlay the content a viewer is reading. The new format will eliminate this irritation; instead, a footer will be included on every page containing an easy-to-navigate site map. The new navigation tool also will make it easier to find State Bar publications like Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack. And the header will highlight our Web site research tools like Fastcase, search functions, and myStateBar.

    Finally, there is one major change you will not “see” but you will experience. We are rewriting the technology so that the State Bar of Wisconsin Web site will load faster onto your computer and be more search-engine-friendly.

    While we were repainting the house, we decided to update the wiring as well.