It’s time for another Website Shout Out. If you keep up with ASDA on the national level, you’ve likely come across Ohio State at some point or another. From the 2012 Ryan Turner Memorial Scholarship recipient (Michael Pappas) to winning the Gold Crown award for Best Website, their chapter has seen a lot of press in the last year. Just when things quieted down a little, their Webmaster redesigned their website and they are right back in the spotlight with this month’s shout out.
I interviewed their Vice-President and Webmaster, Justin Modugno ’15, to see what sparked the re-design and to find out how exactly they run such a great website.
When was the website created and who maintains it?
I was approached last year before I started dental school about creating a chapter website. I spent about a month getting the bare bones of the website together before launching it in September 2011. I decided that we needed a new design this year, and we just launched that in August.
You guys are constantly putting out great content, who all contributes to the site?
Just about everyone on our board contributes to our website. It wouldn’t be so successful if I were the sole content creator. With the help of everyone at our chapter we were really able to create something great.
What would you like to see implemented on the website in the future?
As of now I write all the blog posts on the site, or I get a copy of an article from my peers to put on the site. What I want in the future is for any board or chapter member to be able to get involved and write something for our blog.
I noticed you recently overhauled the entire design of your website, tell us about the vision for the design and usability.
I loved the original version of our site, but when I sat down and thought about what needed to be changed, I realized that the site lacked color and brightness. I decided to focus on getting Ohio State colors to be more prominent, as well as focusing on getting graphics on every page. We now have a much more robust homepage with a sliding slideshow, as well as thumbnails to some of our favorite pieces of content. I think it will help visitors stay on the website longer, and to hopefully explore all that it has to offer to our members.
What is your favorite aspect of the new site?
I’m really fond of the new sponsorship store I put together for our vendors. We wanted to start making it easier for vendors to find out what their options are if they would like to sponsor one of our events. With the help of our Treasurer, Jeff Gannon, I was able to boil down a lot of complicated purchasing options into an automated process for our vendors to explore.
What have been some challenges in maintaining a website for your chapter?
I think the most challenging part is finding time to stay up to date with all of our chapter events. A lot of my time is spent just adding content and features, and with a full course load I need to make sure I prioritize my time. Otherwise I end up spending hours working on the site the night before my first anatomy midterm… That’s a true story by the way.
Since you have a lot of experience running a chapter website, what advice would you give other chapters looking to get a website going?
The best thing you can do when starting a chapter site is to focus on content and design. Your board will be your greatest asset in putting together content for the site. Checking out other chapter sites will definitely clue you in as to what the fundamental resources are that you need to provide your members with. Figuring out what kind of software you want to use or if you need to hire a designer is the next step.
There are a lot of options out there for website design and it all depends on how much time you can devote to the site. The gold standard right now is WordPress, and it is what I would recommend to anyone who wants to get their site started today. The problem is that it is not easy to build a WordPress site up from scratch, but there are ways around that. Website designers will sell their WordPress themes, and it is a great way to get a quality site fast.
Focus on good content and good design and you’ll have a successful chapter website.
Justin and the entire Ohio State ASDA chapter have done an incredible job with the design and content of their website. But don’t take my word for it, check out the new site here.
Seth Brooks, Oklahoma ’14, District 9 trustee