No Growing Pains for the CAS Website
Use of the CAS Web Site has increased for six consecutive months, the first time growth has been sustained over this period of time. The number of Web pages accessed per month doubled during this time, from about 70,000 in August 1998 to over 143,000 in February 1999. By comparison, the Web site's first month, October 1996, garnered just over 7,000 "hits." Figure 1 illustrates the immense and rapid growth in usage of the Web site over the past seven months.
A combination of factors has contributed to the latest surge, including the recent redesign, the timeliness of information delivered online, and an expanding audience base. These factors, along with the regular addition of new features, has made the CAS Web Site a favorite stop on the Web for CAS members and candidates.
Web site users have complimented the new trim interface that was unveiled in November 1998. The goal of the redesign was to make the site more user-friendly. Comments from CAS members indicate that the redesign achieved this goal. Pierre Laurin spoke for many when he commented, "I like the new CAS Web Site. It is much improved visually and much more attractive and user-friendly." Added Michael Caulfield, "I like the appearance versus its predecessor. I had told you that some of your previous screens were very hard to read due to the contrast between background and text. That's no longer a problem."
With Web site users able to focus on content rather than bulky, time-consuming graphics, they are finding that they have quicker access to information than what is provided through traditional means. Because information is posted on the Web site the same day it is dropped into the postal system, the information is available online for several days before it arrives as hard copy in a mailbox. The most recent example of this circumstance was the distribution of the highly anticipated 2000 Syllabus of Examinations, which was "snail-mailed" to over 7,000 people while being available for at least a week on the Web site.
The advantages in information delivery have expanded the Web site's audience base as more groups within the CAS seek to take advantage of its benefits. CAS committees and regional affiliates have established individual home pages within the CAS Web Site that contain information specifically for their groups. For example, the Casualty Actuaries of the Southeast's home page has links to their bylaws, membership form, and meeting information. The Committee On Online Services (COOS) uses its home page to post an online agenda prior to its teleconferences. Rather than sending agenda material through the mail, the online agenda contains links to supporting material for each agenda item, allowing committee members to click through various agenda items rather than shuffling through papers.
The addition of these niche audiences has contributed heavily to increased activity on the Web site. With nearly 50 working groups within the CAS, this type of usage has the potential to grow tremendously.
As more and more people use the Web site, the availability of new services and features must grow to meet rising expectations. Members and candidates have suggested many of the enhancements to the CAS Web Site, and the COOS encourages this feedback. What new features or services would you like delivered over the CAS Web Site? Send your suggestions to Israel Krakowski, COOS Chairperson, at IKRA0@allstate.com.