By Keli Kuykendall

This maxim, attributed to the Italian philosopher Nicolò Machiavelli, has become something of a mantra for NIRSA Headquarters over the past several weeks, as we have worked to restore content and resolve functionality to the NIRSA website experience.

As we first chronicled in “A story of teamwork, databases, and an errant bit,” the NIRSA HQ team has been looking at the website crash with an eye to opportunity. The circumstances have afforded the opportunity to implement our website goals with new tools and a fresh perspective.

Some things familiar

Today we have restored the familiar 3×3-box homepage design. For weeks now, the NIRSA website has been live with the vast majority of Association content. Bounce rates, which are a measure of user satisfaction, are 90% better from 2014. This tells us that most users are finding the resources they are searching for.

The member database and marketplace (which ensures secure transactions) have remained intact throughout the process of rebuilding.

Some things new

After the launch of the revamped NIRSA website in 2013, members provided extensive input about what functionalities you still wanted to see. Many of these insights were integrated into Phase 2 and Phase 3 upgrade plans. Working through this crisis, we were able to implement a number of these improvements. We were also able to roll out upgrades that weren’t in our plans.

Some of the key new attributes include:

  • A stronger search tool
  • An improved news section that allows for readers to search for related articles by category or tag, to easily see the most-viewed items, or to easily share articles with their networks through a variety of social media outlets (engagement with the news section has risen by 160% compared to the same timeframe from last year)
  • A new calendar system
  • Responsive design, for a more mobile-friendly user experience
  • A standalone NIRSA Connect environment (read more)
  • A dynamic photo-slider tool
  • A dedicated mini-site for the Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Exposition
  • Greater social media integration throughout the site
  • A better and faster content delivery system
  • A more integrated approach to sponsor and partner recognition
  • Contextually-based, smart photo resizing tool (which results in faster load times for the user and shorter production time for staff)
  • Streamlined interface for accessing Communities of Practice

Heavy users of the NIRSA website may notice the introduction of the new primary navigation item: LEAD. This section houses pages dedicated to the volunteer leadership of NIRSA, the NSC, and the NIRSA Foundation. LEAD also encourages, recognizes, and honors—through the NIRSA Awards program—the outstanding work of leaders in collegiate recreation. Elevating this content also allowed a better focus for content in the “About Us” section.

Tell us your thoughts

Crises can shake us out of complacency, create opportunities to question accepted axioms, and afford leaders the space to take on vested interests and target transformative change.

We want your feedback! Tell us what you think of the evolution of the NIRSA website’s look and feel. You can give us a call at 541-766-8211, send us an email, or tell us in person at the 2015 NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Exposition.

Don’t go without

While the large majority of content is accessible on the website today, select materials have still not been restored. If you are having trouble finding anything you are looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact NIRSA Headquarters and we will do everything we can to get you the resources you are searching for.