The New Westgard Web
Westgard Web just went through some major changes. Don't Panic. Things are going to get easier for you.
- The look of the website has changed. We think it looks better and it's easier to move around.
- Many articles now ask for you to become a member. The website now has Free Membership that is completely Free. There is an entire article devoted to this discussion.
- There are now small text ads in many, but not all articles. The ads are small and, we hope, not too distracting. Revenue from these ads supports the website operations.
- We believe Westgard Web is now better for you.
Welcome to the new Westgard Website. We hope that this new website is better and more useful to you.
However, we know that many of you will be at least startled by the change. Westgard Web has had mainly one (very simple) design for at least ten years. The website hasn't changed much, in terms of style, since it started back in 1996. So this change is bigger than usual.
Since it's change, you're probably not going to like it at first. As a rule, people don't like any more change than necessary. And right now, there's a great deal of change going on all over the world, so making changes to the Westgard website might not be welcome to you. The changes to the website will impact you and how you use the website. We hope that all these changes will be positive - or at least the negatives of the change will be minimal and diminish over the long run.
Free Membership (really, free)
Let's get right to the most worrisome part for visitors, users, and viewers. The new website requires membership to access part of the website materials.
Don't Panic - membership is going to be FREE.
Once you sign up, you'll be able to log in and see all the most valuable articles from the old Westgard Web. All we're doing with membership is collecting some personal and professional information - the same data which is being collected by all the other organizations, websites, and trade journals. We give you the option to join our e-newsletter and to add yourself to our mailing list - as well as the option to tell us never to contact you ever ever ever.
How do we use your membership information? Much as any other company in the laboratory medicine marketplace. It gives us an accurate picture of our viewers and users and allows us to better address your interests and needs. For us, the goal is to develop better content and better products for you - and generate the revenue necessary to sustain this operation. As with any business, we need to make money to produce our products. Your membership information helps us find customers who want to purchase our products and services.
Don't Panic - you will be able to explicitly remove yourself from any and all forms of communication.
During membership sign-up, you can select a "Don't Bother Me At All, Ever" option. We will honor your wishes scrupulously. If you don't want to be bothered, we won't bother you.
Also note, many of the most popular articles on Westgard Web remain entirely free and open to the public, particularly crucial resources like lists of quality requirements, guest essays, details on the "Westgard Rules", etc. No membership will be required for over 100 articles on the website. So for those of you who detest joining any organization that would have you as a member, you will still be able to visit the website and access key articles without having to log in.
New Features and Benefits of the New Design
The new design includes many features that make using Westgard Web more intuitive and convenient:
- Every article has a "Printer friendly" option
- Every article has an "Email this" option so you can send relevant content to your colleagues (note: we do not recommend sending articles to people you know outside the laboratory profession. They will probably not appreciate it.)
- Series articles now have a list of related articles displayed next to them. For example, if you are looking at a lesson in the Basic QC Practices series, you can also see along the right side, a list of related lessons in the Basic QC Practices series.
- Navigation throughout the website is more visible and easy. In other words, there are more and better and easier ways to find and access that specific article you were looking for.
- What's New? lists on the right hand side of many articles will tel you the latest articles that have been posted
- What's Popular? lists make it easy for you to see, what articles are the ones most visistors access
Why did we change?
Change is never easy. Even when you want to change, it's often harder than it looks.
For all the virtue of its simplicity, the old design of Westgard Web was not useful enough. The original design dates all the way back to about 1996, thirteen years ago (that's like a century, in internet years). Back then, we only had a few articles, so it was easy to keep track of things. Now, in contrast, there are hundreds of lessons, essays, guest essays, tools, reference materials, and downloads. We need a 21st century website design to handle the job.
It would be disingenuous to state that the economy has nothing to do with our change. Certainly we feel the impact of the global financial problems as much as anyone. And while this change was planned long before the subprime meltdown, the deteriorating economic situation added more urgency to the upgrade. Westgard Web must evolve and find new and better ways of sustaining operational revenue.
A New Look
We have always maintained that a simple layout benefits the reader, while an excess of flash and distraction is a detriment to the reader. Westgard Web is truly content-driven and we have focused relentlessly on adding more and more content (which we hope is increasingly relevant and useful to our readers).
We hope the new look of Westgard Web provides the same useful content, enhanced with better tools. Now, along with important articles, you'll be able to see related articles more easily, or find out what else is new on the website that might be relevant to you.
The design is also supposed to be aesthetically pleasing in itself. We hope that the improved look will increase the pleasure of reading articles about laboratory statistical quality control and other quality topics. If such a thing is possible!
Don't Panic. If you don't like the way the new website looks, you can always use the "printer friendly" option for any article, and print out a simple, "layout-free" version of the article.
We will now begin running small ads on many pages of the Westgard Website.
Don't Panic. While there will be more ads on the website, they won't overwhelm the articles.
Actually, ads are not unknown to Westgard Web. For almost a year, we've been experimenting with advertising on the Westgard Blog. We've just been running small Google text ads. They are not too obtrusive, and only those who wish to read them have to read them. Or click them, if they like.
Advertising permeates the laboratory marketplace - like most other industries. Indeed, much of the public sphere is dominated by advertising.
After long deliberation, we believe that by accepting advertising, we will be able to continue reaching the largest audience possible with our content. Much as the "throw away" trade journals offer you a free subscription, in exchange for putting extensive color advertising before your eyes, we will mix in some ads with most of our articles.
Don't Panic. We will not run giant banners ads, pop-ups, pop-unders, flash movies, or any other intrusive and annoying advertising.
Our intention is to run small Google text ads with some of the articles. In addition to the benefit of these ads being small, they will be handled by a third party (Google). We hope that by this arrangement, the objectivity of our content will be preserved. In trade journals, often the biggest advertisers exert influence not only on the content but the leanings of the editorial. Those who write often find themselves writing articles, consciously or unconsciously, that please their major sponsors. We hope to avoid this influence by keeping the advertising portion of the website as far out of our hands as possible.
While the major changes are done, there are still "minor" changes to come. The new system also allows us to make more changes in the future, so we hope to take advantage of new features more rapidly.
Your opinion in this matters a great deal. Tell us what you like, what you hate, what you want us to do in the future. That will help us make this website more user-friendly.
Thanks for your continued patronage of Westgard Web.