The Foundation’s discussion boards have long been a gathering place for patients and caregivers to share information and offer support. When it was first created ten years ago, the discussion board corner of the cholangiocarcinoma.org site was on par with other similar forums, but as ten years passed and technology advanced, the decision was made to give the boards a face-lift. Spearheaded by the Foundation’s very own Rick Pollock, the new site is sleek, mobile-friendly, and packed full of features for users to enjoy.
Before we jump in to some of the excellent changes, it might be a fun exercise to take a look back at the boards through the years and learn a little about the recent path to improvement. As of this writing, there are 13,608 topics, 95,516 posts, and 4,225 registered users. In fact, as I type this on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, there are 16 guests online perusing the boards. Many of the most popular posts have been viewed north of a thousand times, and while you might assume most of the content is heavy or technical, there are many posts of hope, humor, and shared experiences. For example, a post on pet peeves has been viewed over 28,000 times!
“I don’t have pet peeves like some people. I have whole kennels of irritation.” – Whoopi Goldberg
The registered members are a diverse group by age, gender, and location. There are users from as far away as Australia, and a translator is available to aid those who post in Spanish. With so much information available and a mountain of content dating back to 2006, you can imagine the challenge Rick faced when he began to explore options to update the site. Rather than reinvent the wheel, he reached out to a few innovators in the field who were generous with their time and recommendations. The new platform, DB Press, has a slick front end and a back end that will make it easy for Rick to manage and maintain.
So as users, what can we expect? Below are just a few of the enhancements that we will benefit from:
- Design: The first and most obvious change is the new look of the discussion boards. The posts are a little wider with slightly larger text, and the real estate around the posts highlights updates from the Foundation, calls out active threads, and promotes positives happening in our community
- Mobile friendly: I don’t know about y’all (you can take the girl out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the girl), but the only time I open my laptop is when I’m working, but I’m on my phone constantly throughout the day. The new site is designed to be more readable and user friendly when accessed on mobile devices
- Enhanced customization: In addition to basic font control, users can tag their posts and set up notifications for replies. There is also a more user friendly interface for loading pictures
- Searchable: The aforementioned tags make it easier to search for relevant content, and the search function is front and center from the main discussion boards landing page
- Robust profiles: The functionality still exists for users to remain anonymous should they so choose, but for those who would like to share their background, the profile allows a bio, link to personal website, and pictures
- Forward looking: We won’t see this as much as users, but the back end of the new system allows for further enhancements and customization in the future. If you ever have suggestions or feedback, Rick can more easily consider the changes and incorporate them if they are feasible and add value
- Misc: Links can now be successfully copied and shared, documents can be attached to posts, posts can be favorited, and so much more. There will also be resources to aid new users in navigating and understanding the new format
The go-live date is slated for the end of September, and we are hungry for your feedback! If you have any pre-launch thoughts, please feel free to shoot me an email or post in the comments below, and once the boards are live, please also don’t be shy with your thoughts! The boards have historically been a tremendous resource within our community, and I for one am looking forward to getting into the new design and interacting with my CC family.
Stay tuned next time for our October 10th post on the first C.A.R.E. team meeting in Chicago!