The “Lost Resource Module” mini series started by posting about all the wonderful uses of Resource Links.  This month is going to focus on two other resource modules, Events and Alerts, what each one can do, and how to display them.

These are both pretty self explanatory, however they are different than other types of resources in that they probably have shorter shelf lives, and you will probably want to display them differently than other types of resources.

Events

 6-20-2013 2-50-22 PMAn event is a type of resource aimed to highlight… well, events.  These can be clinics, stand downs or anything of interest to your users that starts on one day and ends on another. For an example of how this may look, check out the clinics listings on South Carolina’s Law Help page.

For information on how to create an event, click here.

Alerts

6-20-2013 3-02-54 PMAn alert is a resource module that allows you to set an expiration date for an alert posted to the resource itself. You fill in the name, a teaser, and designate when the alert will end, and hit save. You can include additional resource modules as well.

For instance, when HEAP application season opens, you can set an alert with the title “HEAP Applications Now Accepted”, write a teaser with a brief description of where the applications are accepted, and set a time when the alert will be taken off the site.  You can then add a link to your local DHS office, or the HEAP form. For more information on creating an Alert, click here.

Display Your New Resources

If you follow this blog, you may know what’s coming next but some of this may be new.

Categories & Tags

6-20-2013 3-18-30 PMYou can create a category or a tag to capture your events and alerts.  If you create a category, this can be display in your category list throughout your site.  If your category structure won’t support that, or you don’t want your user to see the naming convention (say you just want the resources in a content page), you can use tags.  Either of these options would allow your admins to review the list of events or alerts in their resources manager.  For more information on tagging, click here.  For information on the difference between tags and categories, click here.

Content Pages & Widgets

6-20-2013 3-34-32 PMIf you’ve assigned your events or alerts to a category or a tag, it will be easy to create a content page that will dynamically pull all these resources into one place.  You can also limit what it pulls by subtopic, coverage area etc.  These can be pushed out into a widget on your page’s homepage, sidebar or miniportal.  Be on the look out for more information on creating a content page and widgets.

Embed a link

6-20-2013 2-33-30 PMIf you have a content page setup, why not consider adding a link to top of your resource list?  You can do in the Resource Introduction text box allowing you to display custom messages at the top of the resource list in a subtopic.  They can contain different messages for each subtopic, and you can also set up a customized message in the organizational listing.  You can find them by going to the “Setup” tab in your dashboard, clicking on Topic, and navigating to your desired subtopic.  You will see two text boxes, “Introduction- Resources” and “Introduction- Organizations.”

Once you’ve inserted the text you want, and press save, the subtopic will appear as it does above.

Considerations

If you don’t currently have a way to capture events or alerts and want to start- consider creating a policy on how to do this.  Will agencies in your state submit requests to have events displayed on your site? What warrants an alert, and how would you find about such an event?  A little planning (and documentation!) up front can go a long way to making this a simple, easy and fast part of your site management.

Additionally, if you already have a system that works for you – don’t replace it, instead think of ways to incorporate your system into your site.  For example, if you already use an outside calendar (such as Google Calendars) you can embed it as a resource and link to it from your site.  For examples of this, check out LawHelpNC and LawHelpMN.

As always, if you have thoughts, questions or ideas on the subject, leave a comment below or feel free to contact me at xkarsten@probono.net or our support desk at support@lawhelp.org.