In the last issue of Eye on Psi Chi, I discussed various ways to post a Web page on the Internet. Assuming that is behind you, the next thing you would want to do is to determine what to put on your chapter's Web page. The basic rule of thumb here is to keep your page informative and current. Obviously nobody is going to visit your page if it doesn't supply needed information that is up to date.
Probably the first thing your page should have is a description of Psi Chi itself. Prospective members will want to know what Psi Chi is and what it can do for them. The National Office publishes a pamphlet that includes a very nice description of Psi Chi, including what it means to members and what it offers them as well. Chapters can post an exact copy of the National Office's synopsis of Psi Chi, or the synopsis can be enlarged to include information specific to your particular chapter. If a prospective member approaches an officer regarding Psi Chi, a chapter's Web page, containing a Psi Chi synopsis, could serve as a valuable resource for providing a prospective member with more information than could be relayed during a meeting or in a casual conversation held as you walk between classes.
Now that you've provided prospective members with information about Psi Chi, the next thing to do is to provide current members with a calendar of events that your chapter has scheduled for the upcoming weeks and months. To promote frequent visits you may want to include important dates for your school, as well, on the calendar. For example, post the dates for final exams, spring and fall breaks, and even other campus events such as Homecoming. It would also be nice to record specific milestones that have occurred during your chapter's existence, such as the anniversary of your chapter's creation or the date your chapter won a national or regional award. With the permission of your professors, including things like professors' birthdays could also give members a reason to make frequent visits to the calendar page. Remember, if nobody wants to visit your calendar page then it's useless. If the calendar is fun to visit as well as informative, you'll attract frequent visitors and keep members aware of your chapter's activities.
When compiling the HTML code for your calendar page make use of linked text as often as possible. If a particular officer is in charge of an activity, post that person's name and link the name using the "mailto:" command--this allows members to send e-mail instantly to that officer to ask questions specific to the activity. Also, if you are sponsoring a lecture on a topic such as AIDS, bipolar mood disorder, or getting into graduate school, provide some relevant links to other pages on the Web that will give your chapter members background information on the topic. Most psychology-related topics have a wealth of information on the Web.
Speaking of "mailto:" commands, it would be wise to include a page on your Web site that provides e-mail addresses for all of your chapter officers. This way members can easily ask questions of all the officers through a nonthreatening medium. Many times people feel reluctant to ask questions at meetings when all eyes are upon them; however, they may be more inclined to ask questions if they can find a way of asking the question with minimal attention placed on them. E-mail provides shy members with an excellent opportunity to get their questions answered. An officer's page also allows all chapters that are on the Internet the opportunity to seek suggestions from other chapters.
Again, restating the need to make your Web site useful, a page should be included that provides links to important psychology-related Web sites. Sites such as the APA's Web site (www.apa.org), Peterson's Education Center (www.petersons.com), Russ Dewey's Psych Web (www.gasou.edu/psych web/psychweb.htm), and William Strunk's Elements of Style (www.columbia.edu/acis/bartleby/strunk) are examples of the varying kinds of Web sites that chapter members might find extremely useful. The usefulness of APA's Web site is self-evident. Peterson's Education Center is a great place to start your graduate school search, and Psych Web provides, among other things, a great number of links to interesting and informative psychology-related Web sites. William Strunk's Elements of Style is a fantastic aid that is frequently cited by professors as "the" guide to correct grammar. There are many other great resources to be found on the Net as well. Use one of your favorite search engines to find the sites you think will most benefit your chapter members.
The last, but certainly not the least, important Web page to include on your chapter's site would be a links page to other Psi Chi Web pages. This page will probably be the most important to your officers in that it gives them the opportunity to scour the Internet for ideas from other chapters. During my tenure as Mesa State College's chapter president, several of our most successful ideas came from contacting other chapters and finding out what worked for them. Part of the key to building a successful chapter is networking with other chapters for ideas. The beauty of the Internet is that it makes networking so easy.
Well, this concludes my series of articles about getting your chapter online. I hope there was something helpful in these articles and that I didn't just contribute to your confusion about the Internet. As always, if you'd like to ask me questions concerning the content of my articles, contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I can't be found there, run a search for me on York University's student search page (www.yorku.ca/main/people.htm). Good luck with getting your chapter online!
[We would especially like to thank Mike Hull for his hard work for Psi Chi, his willingness to contribute much time and effort toward producing this series of articles, and for being a great ambassador for our honor society. It has been a joy working with him, and we wish him the best in all of his academic and professional pursuits. --Daniel P. Bockert, Associate Editor.]
Spring 1997 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 15, 25), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 1997, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.