October 3, 2019: The entire NSS-CDS website is undergoing a major overhaul. The first step? A brand-new subdomain devoted solely to the CDS Training Program. This new site is up now. It provides a better user experience and a better job of answering questions. More importantly, you’ll like what it does for CDS instructors.
A user-centered experience
If you study web design, you know one of the biggest mistakes companies and organizations make when creating websites is making the site reflect the structure of the organization rather than the needs of its visitors. This was certainly true with the CDS. The NSS-CDS website generally attracts two distinct types of visitors.
- One group consists chiefly of certified cave divers seeking to become involved in CDS events and activities.
- The other group consists mostly of non-members wanting to either learn to cave dive or continue their education.
This is why it makes sense for the Training Program to have a separate website which crosslinks with the main NSS-CDS site. Doing so is less confusing for visitors. The new Training website gives visitors four choices which better reflect what they are seeking. These are:
- Choose a course
- Find an instructor
- Replace a lost c-card
- Get in touch with the Training department
There are important changes in each area, all of which benefit CDS Instructors.
Choose a course
The old CDS website had just a single page entitled Training Programs. There wasn’t a lot there, and nothing visitors could act on immediately.
The new website has a page devoted to each course. There is not only a course description, but a list of prerequisites and an overview of course duration. More importantly, there is a button at the bottom of every course page labeled Find an Instructor. This allows visitors to immediately take the next step in signing up for a course.
Also, pages are divided into groups by course type. This makes it easier for visitors to find the course they are seeking.
Find an instructor
This is an important section for instructors, as it provides a means for prospective students to find you. Several changes here:
- To start, we grouped instructor listings by region. This way, if someone is looking for an instructor in, say, Mexico, they won’t need to sift through several dozen listings to find them.
- As before, listings include instructor number, certification level and Specialty Instructor ratings, if any.
- Instructors now have a choice as to whether we display their picture or their business logo.
- Buttons allow visitors to connect directly to your website, Facebook page and email.
A few things worth noting:
- A largely overlooked feature of the old site was the fact, if you clicked on an instructor’s name, you would go to a separate page for that instructor. Instructors had the option to provide a short description for this page. Few instructors took advantage of this, and visitors seldom figured out they could access this info. We dropped this feature, as visitors can now jump directly to the instructor’s website and/or Facebook page.
Replace a lost c-card
While the procedure for lost-card replacement hasn’t changed, how we describe the process has. This is symptomatic of a problem we found throughout the old website. That is, content which is less than friendly, inviting and easy-to-read. Fixing this throughout the entire NSS-CDS website is a priority for us. But we have corrected it in the Training section now.
Get in touch
The old site lacked any sort of contact form allowing visitors to send an email directly from the website. Additionally, the Contact link was buried at the bottom of a dropdown menu under the About Us menu item.
A cardinal principle of good web design is do not make it difficult for customers to contact you. The new site has a Contact us page with an email form which goes directly to the Training Chairman.
By the way, Reggie is very good about responding to email inquiries, if not immediately, within 24 hours or less.
And now the big news…
The biggest complaint instructors had about the old site was the fact you had to register students on one page, then go to an entirely different part of the website to pay for the registration. It didn’t help that the Registration page was a jumbled mess which looked like it was designed by second-graders.
- In the email we sent to each instructor with their User-ID and password for the new site, we said we hoped to have this problem fixed by year’s end. That wasn’t accurate. It’s fixed now. This means you can register a student and pay for that registration from on page.
- What we are hoping to do before year’s end is make it possible to renew your instructor membership online, making a single payment which covers your instructor renewal, NSS and CDS memberships.