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The SBL web site's mission is to serve members and the wider public. As the primary public face of the Society and, in some cases, the first contact we have with our members as well as the general public, it is important that it serve its users effectively and efficiently. Since we initially developed the site in 2003, technology has evolved, as have the needs of our members, and although we have been able to make some updates and improve the functionality of the site over the years, it is time for a change. Thus, over the next six to eight months, SBL's technology staff will be at work on a redesign of the SBL web site.

The site is currently structured so that most of the business a person might have with the Society can be accomplished on-line. It is possible to join SBL or renew one's membership, order subscriptions, make a donation, order a book and register for SBL meetings all via the web site. In addition, members-only pages provide additional benefits and functionality for our members. These include a membership directory, access to JBL via JSTOR, the current JBL, the current Openings, and discounts offered by our publishing partners on software, journals, and books.

We are also constantly working to increase and improve the content of the site. Our plans for the web site are driven in large part by requests from individuals. For example, we have recently improved the navigation on the home page and added discussion groups to the site at the request of members. If you have any suggestions as to how we can improve the site and make it more useful to you, please let us know.

While the current site has served us well, we realize that it is time to improve its look and feel and to make the navigation more intuitive. This is a big undertaking that we do not take lightly. In the first phase of the redesign project, the "analysis and design" phase, we will be soliciting feedback about the current site from members and meeting with the various departments of the SBL Executive office to discuss their needs. In addition to this, we will be monitoring blogs and the internet chatter of our members to see what they are wishing for (or complaining about). During this phase, we will define the vision and strategy of the web site. We will explore what we are doing well, what we are doing poorly, and look at trends to see what we should anticipate going forward. We expect to complete this phase in September.

Long-term projects like this always send us back to the fundamentals for direction. The SBL strategic visions serve as our blueprint for long-term planning within all facets of the Society including the web site. With our strategic visions in mind, we define the mission of the SBL web site as being to

  • enable members to connect to other members
  • allow members to engage efficiently in all SBL business dealings
  • provide a context for the exchange of ideas
  • provide and develop resources for teaching, learning, and research
  • educate members and nonmembers about, and engage them in, what SBL does as an organization
  • promote and sell various SBL products
A part of our ongoing approach to the web site is to evaluate our "lowest common denominator point." That is, when we design the site we try and take into consideration our members who have intermittent dial-up service in a third world country as well as those members with a T-1 line in an industrialized nation. As new technology becomes more widely available, we add functionality so that the site works well for our members who are more technically advanced while at the same time ensuring that it is still accessible to those who might only have a few minutes to get what they need.

One of our strategic visions is to develop resources for our diverse audience. We have heard that many scholars return home after their studies and quickly lose access to the cutting-edge information that they had in school. We are making an effort to give them that access with on-line journals and book reviews and are working to develop content for our entire membership, including students, teachers, publishers, and clergy. Discussion lists and on-line journals give members a place to share information when they are unable to attend our meetings.

SBL's ultimate goal is to create a site with an appealing design, navigation that is intuitive, and content that is informative and easy to find. We want to create a positive experience for our site users so that they will return on a regular basis.

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Citation: , " SBL Web site Redesign," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited June 2006]. Online:http://sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleID=548

 
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