Web Site Reworked from Scratch
It gives me a great deal of pleasure to announce that, after many months of hard work by UFCW Canada Communications staff and the assistance of Web design experts, UFCW Canada’s Web site has been redeveloped and redesigned in both official languages.
Creating a Web site used to be a relatively easy and straightforward process, similar to creating a newsletter or other printed publication on the computer. When UFCW Canada’s original Web site went on line in the 1990s, it was in an era in which information was generally still presented in a simple fashion on the Internet. That was the intent of our first Web site: another union publication to supplement the growing library of printed materials we had produced over time.
Over the intervening years, however, Web surfers have become increasingly expectant of some of the “bells and whistles” that commercial Internet development has established. They have also become more sophisticated in the nature of information they seek on line and how they search for it. Expectations are higher.
We also learned that Web site maintenance is a major undertaking. Gone are most of the “under construction” signs that used to proliferate on Web sites around the world, as Internet developers realize that a site is never not under construction.
The constant need for updating our Web site has meant we have had to find new approches to not only the way we communicate with members and the public, but in how we go about the work behind doing that successfully. In the past year, we have made major strides in our expanded UFCW Canada Communications staff, and the rebuilt Web site is a major part of the work that has been done.
Some of the features of the new site include:
- detailed pulldown menus across the top of the site that allow visitors to quickly find the part of the site they need;
- an interactive sidebar that allows visitors to report health-and-safety hazards, locate a UFCW Canada local union in their community, contact the national office with questions or comments, or search for further information;
- a media kit with downloadable images, the national director’s biography, and a section on stories of importance (currently UFCW Canada’s activities in the area of agriculture workers);
- a section on active campaigns;
- a list of products made by and services provided by UFCW Canada members;
- a growing history section that fea- tures biographies of great leaders of UFCW Canada and its predecessor unions, starting out with stories on Clifford Evans and Fred Dowling;
- a calendar of events;
- expandable libraries of UFCW Canada publications in printable form, audio and video clips, and image galleries on subjects ranging from the agriculture workers campaign to fundraising events for leukemia research including the UFCW Canada Racing for a Cure program and the newly-renamed UFCW Canada Joe Bowen Celebrity Golf Classic;
- information distribution opt-in lists for Directions and press releases in e-mail form to keep members and other interested people informed of what is happening in UFCW Canada;
- new pages highlighting the work of the women’s, youth, and human rights committees;
- a new health-and-safety section with legislation information for all provinces; and
- a Union Yes! Promotions page that will allow members as well as locals to easily purchase ready-made and custom-designed UFCW Canada apparel and accessories.
All of this, and more, has been packaged in a clear, professional manner, which is what UFCW Canada members have come to expect. There is even, for the first time on our site, a site “map” that helps visitors navigate quickly and easily to the information they seek without the need to scan through the pulldown menus.
While our new Web site is clearer, more interactive, and more complex than ever before, this is by no means the end of the work. Our Communications staff will be working diligently to keep it updated, and to add to what is already there. Plans have already been made to add new sections in addition to expanding greatly some of the sections that are already there, and we encourage UFCW Canada members and others to make suggestions for changes or additions that will improve the site. Just like the World Wide Web, the possibilities are without limit.
The UFCW Canada Web site is just one area in which the national office is striving to make improvements when it comes to communicating with members and with the public. Through the work of the national Communications staff, and through various programs run by local unions, we have in particular created a stronger identity for UFCW Canada as both an activist union in the community, and as a champion of workers’ rights and dignity. That work, too, will continue. The third annual UFCW Canada Communicators Forum – a meeting of national staff and local union staff and volunteers involved in communications activities – will take place in Thunder Bay, Ont. on April 9-10. More than just workshops for communicators, these yearly meetings have come to be an important means of establishing relationships between locals and the national office, and between locals themselves. As we forge ahead with a new network of communicators, we are growing more confident of the tools we have to do this important work.
Michael J. Fraser