New AAUW NC web system

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This note is to explain some of the underpinnings of the new AAUW NC web system. You may have seen the article on page 8 in the recent issue of the Tar Heel News about how Jacksonville and Asheville are using the new system. I’d like to add Raleigh/Wake County to the list — as of today their old site has been migrated to the new system. You’ll note that all of these web sites

bear a suspicious resemblance to this site: https://history.aauwnc.org. You may also notice that Jacksonville’s site actually is just a link into the AAUW NC news site.

What this means is that we’ve chosen a software platform (WordPress) that is highly configurable and can be customized for the needs of different branches. A dozen or so AAUW NC members have posted news items on the AAUW NC site during the last year — and editing the “pages” of a branch site (e.g. the Calendar pages for Asheville and Raleigh/Wake County) involves just a couple of additional steps.

This system is, frankly, focused on content: we want to be sure information about the branches is “on the web” and we haven’t spent too much time on the “look and feel.” WordPress does, however, come with dozens of “themes” and creating a new look for a site is quite doable for someone who understands web design concepts such as CSS and has the time to devote to it.
Aside from the “text” that appears on the page, these sites have what is known as “dynamic” content. For instance, check the bottom of the Asheville and Raleigh/Wake County home pages. You’ll find the most recent headlines from articles posted on this site, https://history.aauwnc.org. The branch sites automatically pick up news from the state site, giving state announcements some additional visibility.

This sharing of headlines is not limited to the systems under this AAUW NC umbrella. Check out the NCWU news page (beta) that displays the AAUW NC headlines (note, just the public policy headlines) along with those of other members of the NC Women United coalition.

What makes that “headline sharing” work is a technology known as “RSS” or “XML.” If you haven’t heard much about that before, please know that this will becoming more important in the next few months (when Microsoft releases an RSS-enabled version of Internet Explorer). For now, know that the idea is that you can build your personal “online newpaper” using the RSS “feeds” from the sites that interest you. [My list includes the BBC, the NY Times, the News and Observer Education Blog, some of the links from http://discuss.aauw.org, several tech sites, a couple of people’s personal blogs, etc.] This allows you to get the updates from those sites without actually “visiting” the web sites — saving you time and letting you focus on the web articles that are of most interest to you.

Again, watch for local talks where this will be demonstrated. If you want to discuss putting your branch on the web using the AAUW NC system, please contact Nancy Shoemaker to set up a time for a discussion. [If there is interest, Friday afternoon, October 20 in Statesville might be a good time to get together. That’s the afternoon before the AAUW NC board meeting.]