Canadian Dental Assoc. brightens its Web site

The importance of regular maintenance is something dentists always advise their patients about: floss regularly, brush after meals and avoid sweets.

So when the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) realized it had accumulated 3,000

pages of information on its Web site, it became clear the time had come to find a better instrument to control the constant flow of material.

The CDA site serves its 10,000 members, but also posts information for use by the general public, providing the latest news in oral hygiene. Giving each group access to the information pertinent to them was one of the CDA’s main goals in redesigning the site.

“”We were trying to structure the information so if you were a member of the public or a dentist from another country you could quickly find what you were looking for,”” said Geoff Valentine, manager of information technology with the CDA.

The site now features a single password protected area for members, but others can be added, and based on a person’s log-in they will be directed to the content appropriate for them.

But when news releases are issued or resources are added to the site, the CDA didn’t want to rely on technical people to post the information and they wanted to give some control back to the members when it came to the material going on the site.

“”There was the look and feel issue, but on the back end we also wanted to implement a content management solution that will give control of the site to the people who own the content and not be relying on the bottleneck that is the technical person,”” said Valentine.

The CDA hired Ottawa-based Non-linear Creations to redesign the site and bring some order to the process.

“”Companies are finding they are overwhelmed by the amount of content they are putting up on a regular basis,”” said Shannon Ryan, co-founder and president of Non-linear. “”Too often people say ‘I need to have something put up’ and you get an e-mail back from the Web master saying ‘The earliest I can get the changes up is Friday’.””

Non-linear used New York-based RedDot Solutions content management server to help the CDA manage information internally without using IT resources. With RedDot, the material can be changed via a Web browser, eliminating the need for specialized IT skills.

“”They’re not technical people and they need to be able to use only a browser and click on a Red Dot and type in content,”” said Ryan. “”They had a fully certified Java programmer doing HTML changes which is not the most effective use of that person’s time.””

RedDot allows users to flow information to the right group through the use of categories and keywords. As a bilingual organization, the CDA also needed a user interface in English and French. Now a content authors in Montreal can log-in and they are automatically recognized as a francophone user.

Tools like those provided by RedDot are among a number of solutions on the market that address Web-specific content management with a low-touch approach, says New York-based Jupiter Research analyst Matthew Berk.

The simpler products answer the call of companies who have been burned by higher-end platforms when they really have modest requirements, Berk said. He says two things drive organizations to content management tools.

“”Either they’re coming to it for the first time and realize there is a lot of productivity they can get out of it, or they are coming to it for a second time and have been burned by a higher end solution.””

Berk says RedDot represents a new breed of content management that doesn’t involve a whole platform or set of technologies that still require technical people to administer.

“”The reason content management continues to be so popular is that it’s really the productivity tool par excellence of managing Web sites and particularly for non-technical people. The whole idea of content management is that they can publish out to a Web site that has more or less become a technical publishing environment.””

For the CDA, Valentine says his goal is to make the site more responsive, and give members and stakeholders the opportunity to communicate through the Web site.

“”Frankly, we have some work to do internally to get the staff and people involved with the association to think ‘Web’ a little bit more. But I know once we get there, we want to not only tell people to disseminate information this way, but give them the tools to do that,”” he said.

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