As a part of the ongoing website renovation project for the Student Osteopathic Medical Association, I reorganized content around a more understandable fashion. A major problem with a lot of IT systems is that they are designed with insiders in mind, and this becomes especially difficult in medical systems where physicians and developers often believe things belong in different places. My small attempt to make at least SOMA more beginner-friendly is by organizing the abundant information into easily understandable categories. Previously the categories were:
- Inside SOMA
- SOMA Foundation
- Events & Education
- Member Portal (Hidden)
These categories don’t inform anyone of anything. If you wanted to register for a conference, you had to go to “Events & Education” and navigate to the month where the convention is taking place and click on the date there. If you wanted to learn about the scholarships available to SOMA members, you had to navigate to “SOMA Foundation”.”Available Scholarships”. Literally everything else that SOMA does was in a huge, unorganized pile under “Programs.” The National SOMA Officer Directory could be found by navigating your way to “Inside SOMA”.”About Us”.”National Officers”. There were a great number of second layer menus to find content.
The new categories are:
- About SOMA
- For Members
- For Leaders
- Conference Registration (hidden most times)
- Member Portal (hidden)
An enormous number of pages have been eliminated in this way, specifically by merging most of the related Programs pages into related categories under “For Members”. I also did my best to remove unnecessary navigation time by eliminating almost all of the secondary menus; nothing should require hovering over more than one word now. Information on leadership within SOMA or related organizations can now be found under “For Leaders” rather than scattered across the digital landscape, and scholarships are now located at the very top under “For Members”. Registering for conventions is now only available while registration is actually open, and it will be managed by a direct click from the home page, without involving the mostly empty calendar.
I have to admit, the whole iMIS system used by SOMA has been a really rough learning curve coming from the likes of Joomla and WordPress, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. A key revelation was discovering while researching the product that iMIS is an “organization management” software, rather than simply a content management system. I am still far from thinking iMIS is superior to a well supported Joomla system, but changing my frame of mind regarding the system does make quite a difference.
Hope whoever you are, anonymous reader, that you have a fantastic holiday season and New Year! I know I’ll be enjoying my few days off before my last semester of classroom learning begins!