Oklahoma Bar Journal

New www.okbar.org: More Than Just a Facelift

By Laura Stone

Great news! Big changes are coming to the bar association website. Everyone loves change, right?

Actually, this is one change we think everyone can embrace. Though the web address will stay the same, the new site will be a much-upgraded experience for our visitors. Don’t worry though, all the things our members need most – like quick access to MyOKBar, Fastcase, MCLE information and CLE registration – are still right on the front page.

Several months ago, a group of volunteer members ran usability tests, analyzing how easy the current site could be navigated and how long it took users to find specific services. After reviewing the results, as well as member feedback, a plan was established and a team of four staff from the Communications and IT departments was assembled to transition from the current website into an all-new design.

Although the new website has an updated look, it got more than just a facelift. Based on the usability tests and feedback, improved infrastructure features like clearer navigation, increased readability, better mobile responsiveness and a more relevant search feature will make it easier for members to find what they need – beyond just front-page items – and give the public better access to resources generously provided by our committees and sections.

“Everything is new,” said IT Director Robbin Watson. “New platform, new hosting, new look – and we’ve tested every one of our new and enhanced features to be sure they integrate smoothly. We’ve worked hard to create a beautiful website that’s easy to use for all our audiences.”

In addition to upgraded infrastructure and functionality, the content on the website has also been improved. The process of transferring information requires the team to review each one of the thousands of pages on the existing site to update the information and fix any problems with the code, then integrate the corrected content into the new design. This exhaustive process ensures every page not only has the most up-to-date information, but has also helped reveal pages or whole sections of the existing website that are rarely accessed due to either poor navigability or duplicated, irrelevant information. By better organizing the information, every other aspect – like the search or navigation menus – will work more efficiently. It will also make it easier for search engines like Google to analyze the pages, giving better visibility to the resources the general public may be seeking.

“It’s been a lot of work,” said Executive Director John Morris Williams, “but the staff have done a great job, and the members involved have been a real asset. We know members’ time is valuable and increasing efficiency when they go online to access their services is one way we can help them better utilize that time. As with all our technology, we will continue to evolve and make improvements, but this is a big step forward.”

Testing and final review for the new website is currently underway. Website visitors can expect to see the new design in mid-August.

Laura Stone is a communications specialist in the Communications Department.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- OBJ 89 pg. 46 (August 2018)