Digital World Biology recently received an NSF ATE project grant  to advance the Bio-Link.org and Biotech-Careers.org websites. The project started in July, and we are proud to share our first update to the Bio-Link.org website. The last update was launched in early 2016, nearly three years ago. In web-years that's really old.
From a content perspective, nothing. All of the previous content is still in the database. Older, rarely used or rarely visited items have been moved to an "archive" that is accessible at the bottom of the resources menu in the footer ("Important links" in the figure to the right). Also, available content can be found using the site search in the upper right corner of every page.
The focus of this update has been to improve the presentation of the site's content with the goal of making content easier to view and access.
Program Pages: The most significant changes have been made to Bio-Link Program pages (see below). We collect a lot data for Bio-Link programs. This is important to do because it demonstrates Bio-Link's value to the community, and demonstrates our member schools' value to their communities. Additionally, the data collected are very useful for grant applications.
A challenge with collecting a lot of data, however is presenting a lot of data. Important information needs to be easy to see, and other details - which vary for every program - need to be clear and accessible. As an improvement, we've put related data items into boxes to organize and highlight this content. The boxes are further organized in a general page layout that places program information in two columns. In this way information that students are likely to need and want to see is near the top of the page.
The left column provides the core information about the program. Such information includes the kinds of biotechnology topics and credentials that are offered and the program's website(s) and Bio-Link members. A listing of companies and institutions where students have interned or been hired is next, followed by the program's description. If descriptions are long, a shorter amount of text is displayed with a "read more" link that expands the page. In this way we can pack in more without making the layout distracting.
The right column provides the program's location, links to additional materials, and other data. These other data include articulation agreements and where student have continued their education, whether a program has a CSO (contract service organization) or incubator, and K-12 partnership information. CSO's and incubators are of interest to both students (internship and job opportunities) and Bio-Link members for collaboration opportunities.
Program Content Showcase: If program members contribute a video, a blog, and (or) a presentation, we link that content, and share it in the program page. We've done this for a while, but the presentation of this content was in a list form and pretty dense. Thus, it was hard to see and hard to read. In the update (see below), we highlight this content by making the images and titles larger, and putting the recent items in a sliding carousel format much like those horizontal scrolling items that are sometimes returned from Google searches. The advantages being that you can see the content better and more can be shared because we can take advantage of horizontal scrolling.
The Home Page: In case you did not notice, the home page has also been revised, but, it's not that different than before. Rather than redo the entire page, which would be confusing, we reduced the height of the rolling images to create more space for our messages and our audiences. The goal being that our audiences should be clear and the key information they need, and places for that information, should be front and center. Thus, events, programs, blogs, news and presentations all have their own place in the new home page.
And that's not all, many other changes have been made. You'll have to explore to see the rest.