It is one of the identifiable oddities of human nature that we want the "latest and greatest" performance from the technology that we use, and at the same time we get stressed by change. That conflict creates a challenge for everyone working in the technology industry. On the one hand there's the philosophy of, "If they (the consumer) really want or need it, they'll adapt and use it as we give it to them." On the other hand there's the concern of, "If we change it too drastically in a way they don't like, we'll lose customers." What's the fine line? How do you walk that tight rope? Allow me to give you some minor insight...
Here at Officer.com, and I've been the Editor In Chief for going on five years now, we've made great strides at updating our site and "keeping with the times." Yes, it's a mixed blessing. Some of the things we've accomplished have been fantastic. By the same token, some of our readership miss the "old" Officer.com and have expressed concerns over our growth / improvement. Let's take a minute to view how we've changed and what it means for you, our readership.
A couple of items that I don't think anyone could or would complain about are the dedicated content sections we added including one for the National Sheriffs Association and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. With about half of all law enforcement services nationwide provided by Sheriffs agencies, it's neglectful to the LE community to ignore them and focus only on POLICE. As to the Law Enforcement Memorial: they honor all of the law enforcement fallen, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and it's only right to share their message as far and wide as we can through every means available. At the moment we're working on one more partnership... and hopefully you'll see the results of it soon.
Another change we made was to clean up our home page. The old page was cluttered and imbalanced, often looking like someone had sneezed all the titles and content out onto the page. The new page is far easier to view and the redesigned navigation, laid out like a virtual law enforcement agency, makes it easier to find content on the topic you are interested in. Additionally, there are less advertisements on the home page, so you get more content of value to you and less "hear, buy this" in your face.
And speaking of that virtual law enforcement agency, we've made sure to include not just the separate commands (i.e. patrol, training, special operations, etc.) but also the more relaxed areas of the agency: the Squad Room and the locker room (our forums). In the Squad Room you can share information with your LE friends including uploading photos and videos. The Property Room is where you can go to find information on the equipment you seek and the blogs serve (kind of) like inter-departmental memos from the admin offices.
We've not forgotten that many of our readers are not law enforcement professionals, but are LE supporters; family members, friends, industry partners, criminal justice students and more. With them in mind we increased our social media presence since so many folks seem to prefer receiving news and editorial updates through those channels. And, given how many people use the Internet on their "smart phones" (in parenthesis because I'm not so sure "smart" applies) our Mobile site was updated along with our main page to make surfing the content on those smaller screens equally convenient.
What have I forgotten...
Our daily electronic newsletter also got a face lift to match the new appearance, navigation and functionality of the new site. The new layout makes it easier to find what you're interested in and click through to get the info you seek.
All in all, we've grown or improved in ways specifically planned and designed to make Officer.com more intuitive for our users, and more user friendly for all others who come to visit. Now, let's let that other shoe drop...
We had, and have, users who have followed Officer.com for a decade or more. For some of those "old timers" (to the site, not chronologically), the changes weren't as welcome. They were used to the old page and the old way of doing things. As easy and clean as the "new" site is, they didn't like having to learn the new organization of things (even though the large majority of them already knew it because of its virtual department structure). Some of those folks expressed their displeasure with the new structure, new navigation, new "feel." I can't help but be reminded of an officer I used to work with who did nothing but complain about his eight year old patrol car because it was so decrepit, but then complained endlessly about his brand new patrol car because nothing was where he was used to it being. I guess you just can't make some folks happy.
So... When we at Officer.com contemplate change, we DO take into consideration the balance. We DON'T just do what we want without consideration for our readers and users. Anything we change IS meant to make your visits and use easier, more efficient and more supportive of your informational needs. With that in mind, I'd ask you to support us in two ways (and neither of them requieres you sending money):
1) If you find something that doesn't work, send us an email and let us know. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org or just click on that CONTACT US link in the far upper right hand corner of every page.
2) SHARE your experience in law enforcement. Use the Squad Room and Forums (locker room) to upload your photos and videos, making sure you don't put yourself in hot water with your agency as you do so.
As the Editor of Officer.com, a retired officer and still active police trainer, I consider myself kind of the "caretaker." I view Officer.com as a virtual law enforcement agency and I want to make sure that when you come to visit you can find what you need, retrieve the information you seek, and keep yourself informed to complete another safe shift on the streets. I'd put refreshments in the lobby if I could...