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From IEEE Communications Magazine November 2017

The IEEE Communications Society’s New Website

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Harvey Freeman


In the July issue of IEEE Communications Magazine, Stan Moyer, ComSoc’s Chief Marketing Officer, outlined several different marketing efforts that are taking place this year. These included social media audit and consolidation, brand identity toolkit, marketing collateral, marketing strategy, and website redesign. By far the most important and consequently the most expensive endeavor was the website redesign. Having agreed to move forward with these efforts, the lead for facilitating ComSoc’s marketing activities fell to Daphne Bartlett and the ComSoc Marketing staff.

Daphne Bartlett has been ComSoc’s Marketing Director since July 2016 and leads the development of marketing and communications strategies for the organization. Her previous experiences include marketing and brand management roles at The College Board, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Beauté Prestige International, a Division of Shiseido Cosmetics, The Beanstalk Group, Produce for Better Health Foundation, and Exelon Corporation.

In terms of the website, ComSoc leadership and staff agreed that the current website, created in 2014, no longer serves our community. It does not help ComSoc meet its strategic objectives nor does it reflect our desired brand image. Additionally, the navigation and search is difficult for members and visitors to find what they want and need. Since a website redesign will have the largest impact on ComSoc, as a website is typically the main window for viewing, finding, and purchasing ComSoc products and services, it is important to get it right.

After an extensive RFP process, ComSoc engaged with an outside web design agency, Four Kitchens, to assist with the redesign and ensure the features of the site support our overall objectives:

  • Advance communications technology for the betterment of humanity.
  • Engage, connect, and support diverse communities.
  • Clearly communicate ComSoc’s mission and offerings.
  • Make the website easy to use regardless of skill level, preference, or device.
  • Increase membership.

We conducted member interviews and surveys, as well as a series of intensive content, competitive, and technical audits. This work took about four months to complete, and it helped us to identify key technology and user experience issues, success criteria, and priorities for the new website. This comprehensive exercise was the foundation for a project plan that served as the roadmap for the rest of the redesign.

Based on all of the information gleaned from the research and conversations with members, we will launch a new website with our member and non-member audience in mind. We will improve the overall design and structure of our content, and have a more responsive interface with faster load times, no matter which device is being used. The optimized navigation structure will make it easier to find the needed content. In addition, with seamless single-sign on, member-only ComSoc exclusive content will be accessible. There are additional small but impactful changes that will make for a much easier and user-friendly ComSoc web experience:

New ComSoc Website Design

Better Page Structure and Visuals: A clear visual hierarchy will be established so that key actions and information can be found immediately — reducing page complexity and avoiding unnecessary text. Long pages can work for a website, but they need to be able to be scanned by modern web readers. The new ComSoc website will take advantage of visual elements that wrap content into easy-to-read portions, and in-page navigation will make it easier to stay oriented on long pages.

Comprehensive Search: Using SOLR with keyword search, the new website will deliver faster, more targeted search results.

Improved Messaging: We have a lot of content, but the ComSoc story and member benefits should be clearer to visitors. We have improved key pages like the Homepage, Membership, and About pages, which will make it clear who we are and what we have to offer.

We want the new website to better articulate our mission and core values by having our key messages be more visible, including adding high-priority content to the Homepage. The website will better promote the value of membership by identifying and highlighting which content is most useful for members.

Standardized Sub-navigation: Sub-navigation can help users stay oriented in a content-heavy site and manage longer pages. The new website will use sub-navigation consistently to help users understand where they are, and where else they can go while providing in-page navigation to help navigate longer pages.

Related, Dynamic Content: The new ComSoc website should provide pathways for users to continue to explore and engage with site content. We will surface popular or key content, provide “tags” that will allow related content to be displayed, and position related content at key points on the pages to provoke interest and avoid dead ends.

Consistent Branding and Tone of Voice: The current ComSoc website has a lot of variance in its overall look and feel. The new site will be visually consistent from page to page. We will develop tone of voice and an editorial guideline for content contributors to ensure that content is written with ComSoc audiences in mind.

We are excited to share the new ComSoc website, set to launch at the end of this year. We hope that you will find the new site modern and fresh, and easier to use and navigate. We will provide more information about the new website as we get closer to launch.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact Daphne Bartlett, the Marketing Director, at daphne.bartlett@comsoc.org, or Stan Moyer, the Chief Marketing Officer, at smoyer@comsoc.org.