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New website to be launched this spring

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After more than a year of thought, research and consultation, the Institute will soon be launching its new website. It will have an exciting new look and feel. The search capabilities will be greatly improved. Virtually all documents will be available on the public site. The home page will display dynamic information, and members should find what they are looking for far more efficiently. An enhanced e-commerce system will be included, and will be similar to models that members have seen and used on other sites. These and many more improvements are in the works.


Websites are living entities. As soon as a site is launched, the work begins to improve it. In the CIA’s case, the site launched in October 2005 bears only passing resemblance to the one currently online. And it is used far more than ever before. For example, looking at statistics covering the same week in January in 2006 and 2011, the number of average daily sessions has risen from 920 to 2,166. The average number of bytes transferred per day has soared from 415 MB to 1.5 GB.

Over the past year, we have learned just how much web technology has changed. For example, the popular computer language we used five years ago to program the 55+ webtools on the site is slowly being replaced by other programming languages and this trend challenged the CIA to research and evaluate a number of alternatives that offer appropriate out-of-the-box functionality.


There is a trend in web design towards the use of content management systems (CMS) to modify the content of sites using a browser, rather than requiring a programmer to do the work. For example, some CIA documents are posted on three or four different areas on the current site. When one of these documents is changed, we need to go to each location and post the updated document. Of course, this has to be done on both the English and French sites. A content management system will eliminate this time-consuming process.


The core of the new website will be a publications database, where every one of our documents will be stored along with critical information about the content. Users will be able to search the database using various criteria, making more efficient use of their time.


One interesting benefit of the publications database relates to older documents which were never produced electronically. Many of these have been scanned over the years. However, the only information that search engines can look at in scanned image documents is the accession number. With the new database, much more information will be searchable, making these documents far more accessible.


Regarding CIA events, a master monthly calendar will display all events (in a calendar or list view), and provide options to filter the events by event type, location, date, etc. Of course, all events will be linked to the new e-commerce system for easy registration and payment.


We will update members on the progress in the next (e)Bulletin and will share more detailed information on some of the new exciting elements.


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