I’ve spent much of the last month working on the annual 24×7 Buyer’s Guide biomed association list. So far, my primary responsibility has been to contact biomedical associations across the country and verify contact information (mailing address, phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses, etc). It’s been a pleasant task—finally getting to connect personally with the organizations and people we write about on a weekly basis—but one thing struck me as I continued through the process: the Web site presence and maintenance for most of these associations was often either woefully neglected or simply nonexistent.
In a world where most people get their news, weather reports, and entertainment, as well as keep their schedules on virtual interfaces, the fact that many of these biomed associations wouldn’t have an adequate presence was continually surprising. Many of the sites weren’t even kept up to date—on a few of them, the most recent event announcement dates back as far as 2008.
After interviewing members of the Arizona Medical Instrumentation Association (AZMIA) for January 2011’s Focus On feature, I was struck by their assertion that the biggest obstacle the association faced was sustaining member interest. They attempted to remedy the problem by focusing their educational offerings to their members’ needs and wants. But it seems that another way to captivate and encourage participation from members is to engage them on a platform that they can connect with and easily access (ie, an active Web site).
There are obvious obstacles to having an up-to-date Web site. Prime among them is a time commitment and technical know-how. As volunteers, the board members of biomed organizations probably don’t have the time to dedicate to working extensively on a Web site, and unless they take time to educate themselves about the ins-and-outs of Web languages, the construction of these sites may have to be outsourced. But building and maintaining a Web site wouldn’t be cost-prohibitive on its own, and keeping an updated site may drive more membership interest, making the added time commitment worthwhile.
So as the leaders of biomed associations, are there other reasons that many of these sites aren’t kept up-to-date and relevant? And as members of the association, would a more active online community (including notifications about upcoming events and meetings) make you more interested and involved in the organization?