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Environmentally friendly Web content

This article appears in the issue May 2003 [Volume 12, Issue 5]


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User stories from the knowledge front

The environmental organization Sierra Club wanted to improve its Web site, which is an important communication and outreach tool for the club. The site educates the public about environment issues and also makes it easy for people to join the club and act on behalf of the environment.

The Web site draws as many as 10,000 visitors a day, including students, conservationists, media and people with opposing views. Jenny Coyle, local affairs editor for the Sierra Club Web site, explains, "They come to learn about everything from environmental issues to club outings." In addition to the national organization, the club has 63 chapters, each comprised of smaller groups. Most of the chapters and many of the smaller groups maintain their own Web sites.

"Sierra Club members work hard and play hard, and keeping our Web sites timely and engaging is vital on both counts," says Coyle, "so we started looking for a way to make it easier for both the national and local groups to update their sites and share information."

A specific goal of the Sierra Club was to make it easier for Web users to contribute content to the site. "We needed a process," says Coyle, "that broadens the opportunities for groups with something to say, but who may not have a technical expert available. Most of our volunteers have full-time jobs, families and other commitments, and we need to embrace tools that work in a volunteer environment."

Because volunteer Webmasters update content from a variety of local computers, the club wanted a solution that was independent of operating system so people could use their existing platforms. The club also wanted a content management solution that was easy to maintain.

"The Webmasters are a geographically distributed group working on different platforms," says Coyle. "We cannot send people out all around the country to install software and troubleshoot their machines."

The Sierra Club eventually chose a Web-based content management service from iUpload to help simplify how it publishes information to some of the more dynamic parts of its Web sites. The solution is independent of site architecture, infrastructure, design platform and hosting environment. According to iUpload, the service allows non-technical users to author, publish and edit content directly to the site, and does not require installation of new software or infrastructure changes by volunteer Webmasters.

"Its overhead management is as simple as its gets," says Coyle. "For us, browser-based content management was the only solution to provide non-technical personnel working on diverse operating systems with the ability to contribute directly to club Web sites."


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