I’m going to stray a bit from my normal topics to discuss the newly updated ARRL website which after several attempts finally went live this week. My overall response was one of disappointment. I am well aware that any it’s often difficult to get pretty much anything right in Information Technology the first time. (In fact, I was commenting to one of my colleagues at work that if you think you’ve gotten something right on the first try, you have overlooked something). My fellow bloggers Dan, KB6NU and David, K2DSL have written posts describing some of the flaws, and I suggest you read them for the details.
David in particular enumerated a lot of the different issues, and while I’m not going to add anything to his list, I will mention that in particular, the two things that are particularly annoying are the fact that it seems that even with the “favorites” feature, nearly everything requires a lot more clicks to get to (which is one of the main things you don’t want to do if you want people to keep visiting your site) and that you no longer remain logged in for very long. (It looks like they may have adjusted this value since David wrote his blog, but in any case, it should allow you to remain logged in for at least a few weeks minimum; this isn’t a banking site.)
I want to make clear that I am a big fan of the ARRL, and that I really appreciate the advocacy they provide for our hobby. I know that an undertaking of this magnitude must have been quite difficult, but I think that they should have allowed ARRL members “preview” access much earlier in the process. (Yes, I’m aware that there was an article in QST, but static images are not the same as actually using the site.) I suspect that the reason for not doing so was a concern over the flood of input that they may would have received, but when you are developing something that is supposed to provide service to your members, you need to take their feedback into account.
I sincerely hope that the ARRL will listen to those of us who have been sending in feedback and will be able to make the changes to make the website at least as useful as it was before the changes. I also hope that we, the members, don’t hear that “it’s too far along in the process to change things”.