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New VACP Web Site Launched

August 24, 2007 | VACP

Surprise! Today, a new web site was lauched for the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.

The previous site, created in 2000 in the midst of the dot-com boom, was the VACP's first-ever web site, and was one of the first among state police chiefs' association web sites. Created by former intern (now, Communications Manager) Erin Schrad as a school project, the original site was designed to aid the VACP's small staff with disseminating information to the membership about the association's programs and conferences. As the association grew, the web site became an even more important means for communicating news and announcements to both the membership and the law enforcment community in Virginia as a whole. Over time, the site was enhanced with additional features, such as the Members-Only area of the site and photo galleries, to meet the needs of an increasingly internet- and technology-saavy membership. But although we were able to make some changes with the site and to add additional features, the original site was actually not flexible enough to accommodate larger changes, such as the addition of new sections or the de-emphasis of older, yet still important, information. Additionally, the original site could only be updated by the Communications Manager, creating a bottleneck of work when a lot of small changes and additions needed to be made. Enter the new site
So, the time had finally come to build an entirely new site for the association — one that would be easier to update and could grow with the association. The staff contracted with an outside firm with experience creating dynamic sites for non-profit organizations, Top Dead Center Design, and set about restructuring the site to meet current and future needs. Where the old site was just a collection of individual static pages linked together, the new site has been built using a content management system, where content is entered into a database and then dynamically delivered to pages on the site. So when a new database entry is created for a news item or activity, the site automatically generates a new page for the content as well as links to that page throughout the site. So where before adding a news item required changes on at least two and maybe even three pages, now all of that is taken care of by filling in one form. Additionally, entries can now be coded to automatically remove themselves upon expiration, saving VACP staff from spending hours removing out-of-date information from the site. And now every member of the VACP staff can be granted access to make changes to the site as needed, rather than having to rely solely on the Communications Manager. As of now, we have mostly just moved content from the old site to the new site, but soon we will be adding new sections and updating old ones to make better use of the new site's features. We also are already planning a second phase of development for the site, which will be a new Members-Only section of the site. We hope you enjoy the new site and find it easier to use. The staff is excited about the new site and all of the possibilities that are now available to us for expanding our membership e-communications. Please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) you might have with regards to organization and usability of the site. If there is something we can change or improve upon, we will certainly give it a try.