« City of Madison Launches Open Data Platform | Main | Digital Commons Network Makes Open Access Articles More Accessible »

WisBar Launches New Website

By Kris Turner, Reference and Technology Services Librarian

The Wisconsin State Bar launched a completely redesigned website on February 4th. Located at http://www.wisbar.org, the new site is the first upgrade since 2005. Combining resources that can be used by both the public and by members, the new site also features an intuitive navigation bar, improved lawyer searching and a distinctive home page for members to view all of their purchased content. While the transition has led to some issues, the website does improve it's navigability and usability.

The biggest change that visitors will notice is the enhancement of the home page and the addition of the navigation bar. The site is divided into five categories: About us, for Members, Marketplace, News and Publication, and for Public. Hovering your mouse over each of these options gives you a drop-down menu that allows you to select an even more specific area of the content to explore. With the advent and continuing popularity of Google-type searches, some users may find the search box to be more helpful. Located at the top right-hand side of the site, simply type into the box what you are looking for, and the entire site will be quickly searched.

Gaining access to member content is obviously one of the most important elements to the Wisconsin Bar website. When you sign into your account by clicking on "myStatebar" at the top right, you will be taken to a personalized home page that lists all the resources you have access to, which may include Books Unbound and Fastcase Legal Research. This page is customizable, and users can follow legal news that may be of interest to them. Users can also interact with other legal professionals by posting comments to news stories and adding more information to their profile.

Giving staff at a busy law office or library access to the resources is critical. After clicking the "myStatebar" link on the top right, State Bar members can then click on "myStaff", which is the farthest selection on the right. Here bar members may add staff, thereby sharing access to resources, such as Books Unbound, that are available to the member. Currently, the "myStaff" is still being designed and built, but once the final touches have been made behind the scenes, it will be possible for members to allow their entire staff access to the resources using only one log-in.

The transition hasn't been entirely smooth. Access to Books Unbound for both the UW Law Library and the State Bar Library has been affected. We are working with the State Bar to resolve this issue. Some areas of the site are still under construction, such as the above-mentioned staff access. As with many new sites, it takes time to get used to where the new locations for links are located. Nevertheless, the new website is an improvement over the previous one, and once these issues are worked out, should be helpful to visitors.

Improving and maintaining website navigation and content is a great challenge for any organization. The Wisconsin State Bar has redesigned their website to be more intuitive and to provide a 'one-stop shop' experience for legal professionals and the public. While the site is still a work in progress, check it out for yourself at http://www.wisbar.org. The staff at the State Bar wants your feedback on what you think of the new website. Email any thoughts you may have to WisBarFeedback@wisbar.org.