It's been a long time coming, but finally the NPC's new web presence is live and operational. The new site was conceived to offer members of the committee the maximum flexibility in maintenance, and to offer individual postgraduates a useful Internet-based community service in addition to the core information about postgraduate issues and the Committee itself.
Launched on October 23, at www.npc.org.uk, the site is operated and maintained by members of the NPC through a special administration system, allowing the site to reflect events and issues as they happen, with a distinct and genuine postgraduate voice.
At the site's heart is a discussions system, allowing for free flowing debate on any topic, or tied in with specific documents on the site. And in this spirit, the site continues to allow visitors to subscribe directly to the various NPC-run mailing lists.
Other central services include a new database of coming events; NPC officer details; a comprehensive, categorised links system (to which visitors can quickly and simply make recommendations); a site-wide search engine and a live feed from the Open Directory Project, providing a gateway to the wider Internet.
The site's homepage is constantly updated to reflect activity on the site, including new feature articles, coming events and hot topics in the discussions area. The homepage also prominently features a news feed of postgraduate and higher education stories from the international press, updated live every ten minutes of every day.
Each document on the site is connected to all the others through an extensive keywords system, allowing for older documents on a specific topic to automatically link to newer documents on the same topic the moment they're added. Equally, most documents feature a printer-friendly version, with the site's navigation and visual characteristics pared down. Even the fully-graphical version of the pages, however, has been tested on a range of browsers and should present few difficulties for the visually impaired, or visitors using plain text or audio browsers.
The old NPC site was subtitled "The Postgraduate Hub". The new, although without the tagline, seems set to fulfil that challenge, presenting committee and general postgraduate information to both the community and the wider world. The hope is for npc.org.uk to become the primary resource to which people turn for information and opinion about issues and topics relating to postgraduates and higher education in the UK. Watch this space.