Let's take a look behind the curtain -- the www.aapg.org curtain, that is.
First was a change of servers. We made the transition to a faster server that now hosts 10 mini-sites under the aapg.org primary domain. These mini-sites include the AAPG Bookstore, Foundation and each division -- DEG, DPA and EMD.
Then, around the middle of November, we deleted the graphics used to create the navigation bar (on the left for most of you) and made it text. Members immediately reaped the benefits in a faster surfing experience while they traversed the aapg.org domain.
These two simple changes should have sped up browser access and made our site more responsive, which would mean a more pleasant experience for visitors.
The past several EXPLORER articles about the AAPG Web site have focused on the newly introduced "Members Only" area. We've attempted to instruct members how to access this area -- and encouraged members to discover how easy it is to use.
One of the benefits from the Members Only area was the ability to streamline the password process. Previously, you had to remember two or even three passwords to do AAPG business online:
- One login scenario enabled you to buy books and CDs.
- Another led to researching AAPG data.
- Another was for logging in to pay your dues.
Whew! Were we EVER grateful to see that change!
Now, by using your AAPG member number as your login, plus a password of your choice, you are able to check your dues status (and pay your dues), buy books, CDs, educational courses and seminars, change your address as well as other personal information and access scientific data.
If you visit often and don't want to log in each time you come to aapg.org, you can have your login remembered and not bother with it again -- ever.
Speaking of logins, just a reminder that almost all information, news and other details of a public nature found at aapg.org is available to anyone with a browser -- NO login required.
The time to log in is when member prices are desired, or areas of the site exclusive to AAPG members are being accessed.
Let's take a look at some of the new world known on the Internet as www.aapg.org.
This may not sound like a big deal, but this alone saves AAPG over $25,000 each year. And now that your AAPG staff (Michael Jones) fully maintains this area we've been able to expand online business to enrollment for courses and other events along with acceptance of Foundation contributions and collection of Membership dues.
Since the Bookstore information is served up from a database of products and services AAPG provides, that information is updated from that database throughout the AAPG Web site -- a tremendous savings in manpower.
- Then there are the efforts of the Public Outreach committee to consolidate more information about the geosciences for the public, as well as empowering the AAPG membership to provide more interesting presentations to the public.
The slide bank contains data slide sets and virtual field trips of interesting sites.
- The Grants-in-Aid committee now receives applications electronically during the submission process.
They later evaluate applicants through this same Web-based system -- and all of this because the AAPG convention department needed an electronic solution for receiving and handling abstracts for meetings.
- This has lead also to the creation of the Virtual Student Expo -- an electronic version of the Student Expo, where AAPG Student members can post their resumes, extended abstracts of their research and work or even a video clip introducing them to potential employers.
All these behind-the-curtain improvements have been adding up to steady traffic on the AAPG Web site and its mini-sites. We have served up files to a little over one million visits this past year, for an average of just under 90,000 surfers per month.
When we include the mini-sites in the activity on our Web server the numbers jump well over one million for the year and over 100,000 per month.
Speaking of numbers!
The online polls have opened again for the AAPG officers' election. Last year a little over 10 percent of the AAPG voting membership cast their ballots through this easy and efficient method. Members were notified through both email and a postcard about their PIN for casting their vote online.
Save AAPG some postage -- and yourself! Log on to the ballot-casting area to help select 2005-06 officers.