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Snappy New Publication Website Curates Water-Related Information


Seeing your way through the daily barrage of emails, tweets and news feeds to get to information that aids decision-making, awareness raising and — quite simply — the enjoyment of water resources can be difficult.

At the Aquatic Sciences Center, two people recently stepped into the swirl of Wisconsin-water-related material. They’ve brought new order and a snappy presentation to more than 95 items on a publication website.

“We wanted to provide an updated and cleaner look to the publication website to assist visitors in more easily finding what they need,” said Web Developer Tom Xiong.

What they need could be anything from free downloads — fact sheets, manuals and program-related information — to a colorful Fish of the Great Lakes poster for only $2.48, plus shipping.

One challenge for the new site, said Linda Campbell, was getting the postage calculations right. This involved building a system that was easy for shoppers to use but also accurately tallied shipping costs for sales outside of the country.

“Each year, we get interest from about a dozen international residents who want to purchase items. It was always difficult to let them know what the true cost would be for, say, an aquaculture manual because shipping costs could really add up,” said Campbell, the publication sales and distribution coordinator. “Now, the site displays the cost up front and eliminates the need for me to email back and forth with a prospective customer. Solving this matter may seem small since it affects so few website visitors, but it’s actually an example of the care that our web developer takes to make sure everyone has a good experience when visiting our website.”

Most online projects take longer than expected, but in this case the result was worth the wait as items are now curated into easily searchable categories, accompanied by images of the publications — aquaculture; aquatic invasive species; climate change; coastal communities; coastal engineering; contaminants; fish and fisheries; groundwater; habitats/ecosystems; maps; ports, harbors and marinas; program information; quarterly newsletter; recipes; shipwrecks; water quality; and water safety. 

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents