Throughout 2017, the CAS board has been discussing the potential to upgrade our web presence and methods of communication with members and the rest of the world. Our goals included making this volunteer-driven work more efficient, enhancing collaboration within the group, improving online access to information, upgrading our web presence to a more mobile-friendly design, and modernizing our email systems to allow for more practical and efficient communications with members. A broad outline of these goals appeared in the April Chat with a link to a member survey. The results, published in the May Chat, showed broad approval among respondents for moving forward with these plans, with goals including:

  • Easier online publishing of content such as The Chat, reducing the workload of the newsletter editor and webmaster.
  • Mobile-friendly formatting for the website, making CAS’s web presence easier to access and more attractive to many users.
  • An online calendar for field trips and other events, including a subscription option for automatic notifications of these events (and any changes), reducing the workload of the Field Trip chair and other board members.
  • The ability for members to subscribe (via email) to any content published on the website, reducing the need for independent emailings.
  • Adoption of official CAS email addresses to standardize and formalize communications.

In order to move forward with these plans, webmaster Doug Miller and newsletter editor Eric Reuter prepared a work proposal, solicited bids from local developers, and presented them to the CAS board at the July meeting. After discussion, the board voted to accept the bid from MayeCreate Design. Ever since, Doug and Eric have been working with MayeCreate to move this process forward. We expect the new website to go live sometime in September.

This achievement will mark a turning point in the long history of The Chat. For the first time in its 60 years of publication, CAS’s newsletter will be published online in blog format, allowing for easier inclusion of photos, links, and other media as well as comments from members who wish to discuss Chat content online. We will still produce and mail a printed Chat for those who wish it, but the new online format will allow greater flexibility and easier management for creating, publishing, and sharing content of interest to CAS members and other birders. The October Chat will contain a full tour of the newly operational website, which we hope you’ll find useful. – by Eric Reuter