The District of Columbia Bar

The Project

The District of Columbia Bar is the second largest unified bar association in the United States. The D.C. Bar’s core functions, supported by member dues, are the registration of lawyers, operation of a lawyer disciplinary system, maintenance of a Clients’ Security Fund, and certain other administrative operations. Many of the important educational and public service programs carried out by the Bar are made possible by voluntary contributions, user fees, and other non-dues sources of income.

The D.C. Bar was looking to redesign the association’s public website to improve the user experience for members and site visitors using desktop, tablet and mobile devices.  Fig Leaf Software was selected to redesign the Bar’s public site after a competitive bid process was completed.


The Solution

The site information architecture and navigation needed a complete overhaul to organize the information in logical, functional groupings that visitors would find relevant and understandable. Fig Leaf approached the re-design of the public site with a desire to challenge the common mental image of the D.C. Bar. The end result was a design containing modern clean lines and displaying the D.C. Bar’s brand colors. The main goal of the site design was to have a balance of usability between the bar’s members and the general public.

Fig Leaf believes that content isn’t just king — it’s the whole royal family. The redesign began with qualitative content strategy research: a series of focus groups. D.C. Bar and Fig Leaf met with various www.dcbar.org users — both from within and outside the organization — who had important perspectives about the site and its future. Fig Leaf relied on that critical feedback as it conducted an extensive audit of all the content on www.dcbar.org, including a deep review of the Bar’s use of metadata, its user engagement methods, and patterns in its analytics data. The resulting strategic design, technical, and usability recommendations are now the core of the new www.dcbar.org experience.

The navigation was completely revamped to include breadcrumb links at the top of each content page which provide a mini site guide, so that users can clearly see their location within the site.

As part of the site redesign project, Fig Leaf recommended the D.C. Bar consider the use of a Content Management System (CMS).  Since the internal technical staff at the Bar had expertise in Adobe ColdFusion, and since the Bar had many legacy Adobe ColdFusion applications, Fig Leaf Software recommended the ColdFusion based CMS platform, CommonSpot.

Fig Leaf implemented the new design in the template based CMS so that adding new pages over time would be a simple task. Fig Leaf worked with the D.C. Bar to integrate the new site with the ClearVantage authentication login for customers and members to be able to quickly and easily access members-only content. Additionally, Fig Leaf implemented CommonSpot Custom Elements to include FAQ functionality, rotating home page banners, specialized news articles, ethics opinions, practice management advisory service lending library, volunteer opportunities, video, committee reports, and legal forms and  links. Fig Leaf also developed and implemented a rich taxonomy which allows content editors to assign taxonomy terms to individual pieces of content.  Each content element type can have different combinations of taxonomy facets available. Fig Leaf implemented Google Site Search with the new site and an Ad Server to serve display advertisements throughout the site. And when all of the key functionality was completed, tested, and verified, Fig Leaf migrated more than 2,500 pieces of content into the new site.

Authenticated members are provided with rich functionality including the ability to access shopping cart functionality, find a member search, multiple events calendar views, and the ability to update their profile data.


The Results

The rollout of the responsive design and new web site wowed members, Bar executives and staff! The new site provides an engaging and relevant experience for site members and visitors.

Subject matter experts within the bar can now author and manage content quickly and efficiently.

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