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BCA News: Spring 2021

BCA Web Update

James Hayden, RBP, FBCA
Vice President, BCA

It's time for a change!

2020-21 has been an era for the history books and everyone is ready to get back to some level of normalcy, but even when we do, many things will be altered. The BCA will be no different. The last time we were together in person was at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California in 2019 and even then, change was in the air. I am specifically talking about changes to the BCA website. Our current site has served us as a wonderful vehicle for communicating about the Association, but it needs to do more and, in order to accomplish this, we must address everything from the bones of how it is constructed, to the content that it delivers. In Asilomar, I was given the task of initiating a discovery process that would result in a new website and I am pleased to report that we are getting close to the final product, keeping in mind that "Final" is just the beginning of the next phase!

In the middle of the pandemic, a Website Committee was convened, consisting of the Executive Committee, the Directors of Communications, Conferences, Member Services, BioImages, EFFEE, and Certification, along with a few other significant individuals. This group was tasked with re-imagining how the site would operate and how it could be enhanced to provide new features and benefits. We have defined the purpose of the site as a mechanism to attract new participation and membership in the BCA while providing ongoing support our current members. morweb.org All of this required finding a suitable partner to help us toward those goals. After much searching, on January 7 of this year, we initiated a new contract with Morweb to do just that.

The new site will be a custom-built CMS (content management system) that will be fully responsive for use on all device platforms and will provide the infrastructure that we need to support our image library, member database and archives. It will also provide the mechanism to seamlessly submit and pay for necessary activities through the website. Additionally, the new platform will allow us to run BioImages and support BIOCOMM, both as a virtual platform and for in-person meetings all in one place. All of that, however, is the engine under the hood, and what matters to most members will be the changes that everyone will see up front.

You will be seeing an exciting new website when we go live sometime in the next few months. In concert with a complete overhaul of the look and feel of the site, we are adding new sections, functionality and benefits, not only for our current members, but for the purpose of attracting new visitors and using the resources of the site to help each other and to grow the Association. The Mission statement of the BCA states that we are "…dedicated to enhancing the professional competency of our members and advancing the profession by educating and developing creators and users of visual communication media in the life sciences and medicine."

In order to focus on this ideal, we have re-imagined what a new visitor to our site would see and if our existing content would easily address this goal. The idea is to create a location where useful information about what we do best is readily available, and we can share our profession widely.

We are creating a new "Learning Hub", easily accessible and full of the content that is currently spread around our site. It will be categorized and searchable in ways to make it user friendly. We will make use of ourselves to fill the content "bins" with our own expertise, as well as find selected information from other sources. By putting all of this information into one place, we hope to encourage return use – after all, we employ a lot of unique techniques and knowing where to find it will help everyone in the profession. Each member in BCA will have the opportunity and encouragement to add to this collective store of knowledge. The Learning Hub will provide the vehicle by which we can share information about our respective specialties. By means of this section, we hope to meet the Vision of the BCA, which is to "…become the foremost source of education and expertise for all creators and users of visual communication media in the life sciences and medicine."

In addition to the Learning Hub, every member will have the opportunity to maintain a personal profile page, where you can have and share an image gallery, keep your resume, and network with others if you wish. As part of the website process, we are also overhauling BioImages. Everything from the categories and awards to the submission and judging process is being reviewed and revised. Look for the new and improved competition to take place later this year. The landing page will also feature quick links to upcoming events and news items, as well as easier-to-navigate paths to archives and Members Only areas.

This is a large endeavor and we encourage anyone who would like to be involved to come forward. This new site can help define us all and will be our new face to the world. BCA has just passed a milestone: our 90th year! With a good kick out of the gate, our new site will start us out on our next 90 years.

James Hayden, RBP, FBCA
Vice President, BCA

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