I hope visitors to this website are as excited as I am to see all of the changes we have made here. You have probably already noticed the streamlined and updated layout. We hope readers find the look of the home page more appealing, and also find it easier to find the information you are looking for. But look below the surface, because like an iceberg, most of the upgrades to the website are not immediately visible. To give you a better idea of those changes, let me start with a little background, and then give a guided tour.
SCMA’s website upgrade has been a long time in the making. This project started over a year ago, when we invested in new software that helps us better organize our member database. Those changes were designed to accomplish two things: First to provide more fully automated information about membership, thus better enabling us to track membership changes and handle registration for programs. Second to power SCMA’s Select a Mediator directory, created last year in response to the closure of the LA Superior Court’s ADR program. The directory continues to provide a strong platform to assist the public in finding mediators, and to assist members in promoting their services.
Phase II of the website and database upgrade, which we started more than six months ago, amounted to a top-to-bottom revamping of the entire contents of this site, bringing it current with the latest versions of the WordPress platform. In the process, we re-wrote substantially all of the material on the site, cleaned up and brought up to date lots of stale information, created much new content, and added important new features. Browse around the site to get an idea of the extent of these changes. I will highlight a few of these changes here.
Try clicking on our brand-new calendar feature. Users can choose to display events on the calendar in a monthly format, or in a list format. Even more amazingly, this new feature allows organizers of outside events to list them on the SCMA website themselves. By providing this interactive resource to the community, our hope is that SCMA becomes the go-to bulletin board for mediators and anyone else interested in mediation in California. In the past, we have done a pretty good job of promoting programs by bar groups, mediation provider organizations, and educational and training organizations, but it was a time-consuming task, and we didn’t always have all the information we wanted to make available. Now, with the help of other organizations interested in mediation, we can do a better job of informing mediators and the public about available programs put on by SCMA and by others.
Next, take a look at the resources available under the professional development tab. We now host a wealth of information, not only about SCMA’s study groups, mentorship program, fall conference and other activities, but also about degree and certificate programs and job opportunities for mediators. Once again, our aim is to gather all available resources in these areas, so that this website becomes the place to go to find out what’s happening with mediation in the region.
We have also added a “Writer’s Corner” feature to the site, which will allow members and others to publish their thoughts on issues of interest to the mediation community. We hope members will take advantage of this feature, and add lots more content to the site.
On our old site, only the most recent few posts were readily accessible. Lots of information was buried or difficult to find. On the new website, the latest mediation news is still most prominent, but readers will also be able to navigate down to archived material more easily. The site is also organized in such a way as to make all of our resources, such as the Select a Mediator directory, easier to find and use.
The site is designed to be more inviting to members of the public wishing to learn how to use mediation to help resolve their business or family disputes, while at the same time categorizing and displaying information mainly of interest to members. Thus, we hope the new website exemplifies the dual goals of the organization: to promote the use of mediation by the broader community, and to assist members in furthering their professional interests.
None of these dramatic improvements would have been possible without the extraordinary dedication and hard work of the communications committee led by the indefatigable Victoria Gray, the project management skills of executive director Anne Sawyer, and the creativity of SCMA’s new website designer Blake Miller and his team at www.MITOStudios.com. Thanks to all of them for their contributions. I hope members enjoy these changes, and that we can continue to build great things on this new platform.