A Case of Global Understanding

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Article ImageOrganization: NAFSA: association of international educators
The name and scope of this association based in Washington, D.C., has changed several times in its nearly 60-year history, but its primary mission—to set and uphold standards of good practice; to provide training, professional development, and networking opportunities; and to advocate for international education—endures. Its nearly 10,000 members serve 3,500 institutions in 150 countries as foreign student and study abroad advisers, admissions officers, teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL), administrators of intensive English and sponsored exchange programs, overseas educational advisers, and community volunteers.

NAFSA launched its web presence in February 1997, with a redesign following four years later. But member surveys conducted in 2002 and 2004 revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the existing site, raising "lots of bright red flags" for NAFSA’s senior staff and volunteer leaders. "When members were asked to rank the association’s products and services, the site was near the bottom of the list," says web manager Alex Traugott. A follow-up survey focusing specifically on the website revealed numerous frustrations.

Tellingly, NAFSA’s staff wasn’t happy with the site either. "It wasn’t intuitive and it was extremely temperamental," Traugott continues. "Its content management system was hard to use. There wasn’t an established and monitored editorial process for creating and posting content or adequate training in how to do it. There was no style or design consistency. It was basically the mayhem that happens when things are left to their own devices."

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