Issue Date: October 1, 2007
This is a column about the new ACS website, which went live on Sept. 30. The website has been three years in the making and has involved hundreds of ACS members and staff to bring it to fruition. It has a new url, www.acs.org, and I hope you visit it right away—well, right after you finish reading this column!
As I worried about how to describe the new website in only 800 words, I thought about a train trip of long ago. About 10 years ago, when I was editor-in-chief of Chemical & Engineering News, the magazine hosted receptions in several German cities. It was the early days of the Internet and e-mail, and communications were not quite as instantaneous as they are today. With the receptions, we hoped to make a personal connection between C&EN's writers and editors and the chemists working at myriad German chemical and pharmaceutical companies.
That trip conjures up vivid, happy memories. William Storck, then assistant managing editor for business (now a senior correspondent), Senior Correspondent Patricia Short, and I first met with chemists in Frankfurt. We came away from that first reception with a cornucopia of information about the trends in business and R&D. The information was later the basis of many stories in C&EN. We also made some warm personal friendships, which continue a decade later.
Then Bill, Pat, and I boarded one of the frequent trains to Düsseldorf, where we hosted another reception with a different group of chemical professionals. What a trip! The train chugged along the beautiful and historic Rhine River. We marveled at the castles and the scenery, we chatted about this and that; the trip took hours.
Times change, and with a vengeance. On a recent trip to Germany a few weeks ago to meet with colleagues at FIZ Karlsruhe (Chemical Abstracts Service's STN partner), I reminisced about that earlier train ride to Düsseldorf. A German colleague told me that the slow train along the Rhine from Frankfurt to Düsseldorf now runs much more sporadically. Instead, people speed along regularly in express trains, the scenery a blur. Folks are in a hurry to get to their destination.
Time, along with energy and water, is our most precious resource. Most of us feel that we cannot afford to waste a moment. Ensuring that you use your time well every time you visit www.acs.org is the guiding principle behind the new ACS website.
ACS was an early adopter of the Web, and www.chemistry.org was initially a fantastic site. But as it grew on a series of multiple platforms, one part of the site frequently did not communicate with another.
So we rebuilt the website from the ground up, with your needs in mind (C&EN, Aug. 20, page 3). The entire information architecture, portal, and content are new. Our staff Web reinvention team???led by Melody Voith, Rudy Baum, Denise Creech, and John Sullivan—interviewed hundreds of ACS constituents to learn your most important goals and tasks so that we could make sure your professional society serves you around the clock. A Web Advisory Group from the ACS Board of Directors provided important guidance.
Voith, director of Web strategy, says her strategy was quite simple: "Find out what your users want. Give it to them."
From detailed in-depth research, user tests, and surveys, we found out what you want: Finding information in one place is a top priority (Release 1.0 is titled "findability"). You want work-related information and services. You want to hear how chemistry helps solve global and local challenges. You want the public to understand chemistry's important contributions. You want to connect with other members and experts. And you want information and services to help advance your career. You will find all of this on the new site.
The new website features a convenient, global navigation system so you'll never get lost locating ACS programs, products, and services. Quick links between ACS units, ACS journals, C&EN, and CAS unite your favorite destinations in a universal menu at the top of each page. We think you'll enjoy the new home page, where news and research of interest to the chemical community are highlighted and continually updated. The unified look and feel is attractive without being distracting. We've created 10 categories of information to make it easier to find what you're looking for. And as an ACS member (or a potential member), you'll find what you need to know in one place.
The improved global search provides results from all categories of information, such as meetings, news, research, and education, and gives you new tools to zero in on what you are looking for. We've also rewritten and reformatted hundreds of Web pages to make them easier to scan. Furthermore, links and information for the most common items of interest, such as national meeting registration, are on high-level pages of the site so you can get there quickly.
Today, we cannot afford the time to take a slow train to our destination, much as we might have enjoyed that experience in the past. And yet our new website is not the final destination, but just the first stop in our journey together. Later releases will introduce social networking tools, a searchable member directory, and other features. We welcome your feedback (write to WebPresence@acs.org). And welcome to www.acs.org!
Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.
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