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satellite  Bulletin  

by Lance T. Walker

February, 2002
(Note: this bulletin is a re-release of an announcement originally made in October, 2001 in Alameda Business, the newsletter of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.)

ALAMEDA, CA - This month, the Alameda Chamber of Commerce proudly announces the launching of its all-new, state-of-the-art web site at It is an Internet destination that Alameda's businesspeople, visitors, and residents will find both useful and enjoyable.

Dressed in uplifting shades of Alameda blue and white, the new site is designed both to catch the eye, and to provide a soothing invitation to explore all that the Chamber - and the community - have to offer. The three images at the top right of the home page compliment the new logo treatment, and were specifically chosen to represent the three main areas of Chamber/community interaction: Lifestyle, Government, and Business.

But this is much more than just a cosmetic upgrade. The new site also features full search capability and easy navigation to go along with its bright, inspiring new look. In addition, there is now a detailed site map included, which allows visitors to see an overview of the entire site and go to any specific section of interest with just one click.

Content has been beefed up and categorized for easy use. Newsletter articles, demographic information, education and employment resources, events calendar, contact information and much more are all arranged for intuitive locating and easy reading. Consistency, focus, and ease of use are evident throughout the experience. And the site will become an ever more valuable resource over time, as new information is continually added within this solid framework.

The site is divided into seven major categories, represented by buttons on the left side of each page. They are: Membership & Directory, Business News & Events, Publications & Frequently Asked Questions, Visitors & Relocation, Jobs & Employment, Education & Training, and About the Chamber. Each category has a specific color code, which appears when the button is rolled over and is also seen as a thin, yet eyecatching bar near the top of each interior page. Relevant subcategories are shown as links at the top and bottom of the content section of each page.

Business owners and employers will also find the familiar banner link to the California Chamber of Commerce near the bottom of each page of the new site. Clicking on this banner will allow you to purchase legally required postings, kits, and other valuable publications directly from the California Chamber of Commerce store. The Alameda Chamber receives a small commission on each item purchased through this link.

In conjunction with the new site launch, the Chamber has also elected to upgrade its member directory database. To make it easier to find members' contact information and web site links, categories have been revamped to more closely match what a visitor would expect to find in a directory such as the Yellow Pages. Business owners will receive an announcement of these changes, along with the new category listings, in their mailbox in the very near future. Members are urged to select the category most appropriate for their business and return the form to the Chamber as quickly as possible.

The idea for a new site design took root in March of last year, following an extensive focus group survey of Alameda business owners by the Chamber's Tech Committee. One concern that emerged from the survey was the need to enhance local businesses' ability to benefit from the advantages offered by the Internet. From learning what questions to ask when having a web site built, to commerce-enabling a current site, to linking to the Chamber's site, the desire for bottom-line information was clear. But in order to be a viable, credible resource of such information and assistance, the Chamber needed to demonstrate its own grasp of today's technological realities - starting with its own web presence.

SkyVault Web Design, a Chamber member and Internet business services provider based in Alameda, picked up the challenge. After consulting extensively with then-CEO Paula McCloskey, then-President Moira Fossum, and then-President-elect Floyd Hibbitts, SkyVault went into action and presented the Tech Committee with a plan to dramatically upgrade the look and useability of the Chamber web site. As a result of these discussions, a Web Site Subcommittee was formed, and charged with spearheading a workable process that would accomplish the goal within established guidelines. Then, with the continual oversight of the Board of Directors, the project was successfully guided through a careful, six-month development cycle to fruition.

"It's always important for a Chamber of Commerce to show it can get things done", says Lance T. Walker, Executive Producer at SkyVault. "The Chamber site was already a valuable community resource. We just wanted to help make it more so. The site was already loaded with great information, so there was no need to start from scratch. It just needed a few additions and adjustments to turn it into a destination that we believe Alamedans will want to visit frequently, and show off with pride."

Grace Cheeseman, SkyVault's Director of Operations, agrees. "Once we realized that the leadership of the Chamber was unanimous in their desire to upgrade the site, it was just a matter of finding a way to make it happen. Although we've worked on several very large sites in the past, our specialty is showing small businesses how an Internet presence can dramatically improve the effectiveness of their local marketing - which should include active participation in their Chamber of Commerce. So we were able to bring the necessary tools, experience, and perspective to bear on a project that we felt was not only worthwhile, but a pleasure to be involved with. We saw it as a chance to practice what we preach."

A well-built, well-designed, modern web presence is an essential tool for attracting visitors, businesses, and capital to Alameda. Through the combination of vision, effective leadership, and due diligence, your Chamber of Commerce now has such a tool at its disposal. Many thanks go out to Will Dere, Marcella Helwig, Karen Boutilier, Juan Vazquez, Donna Milgram, Sandra Kok, Richard Lyons, the Board of Directors, and the entire Tech Committee for their assistance and contributions to this effort. We invite all Alamedans to visit your sparkling new Chamber of Commerce web site today, and see for yourselves an example of the great things we can accomplish together. Enjoy!

-- SkyVault Web Design provides marketing consulting, web development, and Internet business services to small and medium sized businesses. They have been developing income-producing online properties since 1998.


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