Delaware Chapter Revamps Website
By Amy Roe, Delaware Chapter
The situation could not have been more urgent. I was new to the Chapter's executive committee and trying to get university students involved in our conservation programs, when one of these students informed me that they didn't think that the Sierra Club had a Delaware Chapter because the website was "so old."
Truth be told, she had a point. The Chapter's website had not been updated in about a year and no one seemed to know how to update the website anymore. Something had to be done.
The launch of the Drupal platform presented itself as an opportunity for a clean slate for our Chapter's internet identity. Without much web experience, I needed help. I bought a beginners' guide to Drupal and had a basic training session with Sierra Club webmaster Jason Berry. After a few weeks and a bit of experimentation, I figured out how the system worked.
In developing the new website, I had several goals. I wanted the website to convey a story about what made Delaware's environment special, and why it was important to protect. Delawareans tend to be state-centric, and I wanted the website to drip with Delaware, while also making connections to national issues and Sierra Club conservation priorities.
I wanted the website to be dynamic, creating a unique experience for the visitor each time they came to the site. I have tried to accomplish this by updating the website every few days with new "articles" so that the website always looks current. The site is complex, with multiple pages and "tagged" content, enabling the viewer to browse around and explore the site.
Developing the website has not been without its challenges. Drupal has a steep learning curve. Figuring out how to use it was not intuitive, so I "hit the books" and studied. Now that I know how to use the basic features (views, articles, documents, blocks and panels), I can arrange the content just the way I want to without much effort. I used the webform to accept resumes when we hired summer interns and the first full-time employee that our chapter has had in many years, and I have experimented with surveys.
I feel as though the effort put into the website is paying off. In the first half of this year, the Delaware Chapter has more first-time members than in all of 2011. Community engagement is increasing, especially through connecting the website content with social media (Facebook and Twitter).