The Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit

Improving and Facilitating the Administration of the Justice in the Federal Courts within the Fifth Circuit

The Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit (BAFFC) works to improve and facilitate the administration of justice in the federal courts within the Fifth Circuit. Thousands of attorneys committed to raising the standards of proficiency and integrity in federal practice belong to this association. Attorneys admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, are eligible to become a member of the Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit.

The Challenge

BAFFC had an established website and member base but it was out of date and difficult to navigate. Member engagement was low and it was rare that users were logging in to explore content. Renewals were not possible through the website, so the process was being done manually via an Excel spreadsheet. With the new website, BAFFC’s goal was to create a website which would be a valuable resource for attorneys providing access to an extensive knowledge base of categorized articles, opinions, and commentary.

The Solution

In order to pull it all together, we merged two existing news blogs worth of content into one streamlined WordPress website. We added a new subscription model with a better user experience for a private member area, developed a new search method for easily finding articles, and included a resources section and member directory to add value.

Because BAFFC had a site that users didn’t visit much anymore, our first challenge was to structure the site in a way that made sense to their users’ needs. This would make sure that we elevated the most valuable items to the forefront and allow users to dig deeper as needed.

 

The website is split into two parts – a public facing side and a members only area. The public side allows BAFFC to encourage membership, post news and events, and provides background on their organization and its goals. The membership side, which houses the Daily Commentary and Pending Cases blogs (the bread and butter of the site), is a private area accessible only with a paid membership.

Public Side: Overview, News, and Events

To kick-off the project, we started with a logo redesign to refresh their brand, and designed their website to be modern and sophisticated. We borrowed colors from the previous site to keep the brand memorable and familiar.

We integrated high-quality custom photos, supplied by our client, throughout the site to give the user a glimpse inside the United States Court of Appeals building. The public site encourages membership, features news and events, and provides general information for all website visitors.

Members-Only Site: Dashboard, Resources, and Directory

The members-only section of the site required more careful planning. In order to highlight recent and relevant articles, we created a dashboard for users to access as soon as they log in. Users can then navigate through their extensive archive or complete a custom search based on category and year.

Additionally, we provided a resource section to serve as an archive of PDF documents and a membership directory to allow users to find others in different parts of the country. With the new design and enhanced user experience, these additions give users even more reasons to frequent the new site.

 

The best new feature on the member site is the ability for members to manage their membership, including viewing past subscriptions and invoices, and renewing their membership each year.

Built on WordPress

Throughout this project we learned a lot more about WordPress and gained a deeper understanding of the Paid Memberships Pro and WooCommerce plugins, allowing us to add custom functionality and extend the WordPress core. With our WordPress know-how, custom theming ability, and extensive plug-in knowledge we are able to quickly pull it all together and support the requirements of a subscription-based ecommerce site. We started with wireframes to figure out the unique challenges, designed the look and feel in-house, and developed a custom theme to give our client a tailored WordPress experience and content management system to suit their specific needs.

Member Subscriptions

One big challenge of this project was importing the company’s 6,000+ members (and their accompanying profile information) from a 10-year-old Excel spreadsheet into our membership database. We also needed to allow for importing and exporting member data on an ongoing basis to support an ever-growing member base. To fulfill this need we used a plugin called Paid Memberships Pro to handle memberships and WooCommerce plugin to accept credit card purchases.

SSL Certificate for Site Security

Site security and SSL certificates are a must have when dealing with transactions online. To ensure maximum site security, we enabled an SSL certificate and forced HTTPs across every page on the site. Web users can trust that their personal and credit card information will be kept safe throughout the purchasing process. To read more about SSL certificates take a look at our SSL Everywhere initiative to help you secure your site.

Mobile Friendly User Experience

This site is going to be much easier for BAFFC users to navigate in comparison to their old site for the simple fact that we develop all our sites to be responsive and mobile friendly. This means no matter what size you view the website on, our template adjusts to fit the device you are on, whether that be a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. No more painful pinching or pulling the screen to read the content for mobile devices.

Results

After launch, our client saw an immediate spike in member engagement with the site. Members can now quickly see the most recent and relevant articles on the member dashboard, manage their membership, easily find other members in different parts of the country, and access an extensive database of pending cases, daily commentary, and practice notes.

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