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Website Review: ASISOnline

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ASISOnline is the website representing ASIS International, conveying the latest news, progress and setbacks in the security industry.  It provides a forum for security professionals to get in touch, keep in touch, develop themselves and their organization and obtain the coveted CPP certification, amongst other certification plans that ASIS offers.

Maintaining a website is always a challenge, and more so for the security organizations out there, catering to a very specific, very conscious group of professionals that seldom lets anything slide when it comes to their chosen profession. That is also why ASISOnline does have a few flaws that I’ll be looking at, but to be clear on the point – it is the website’s strengths, and the strengths of the organization behind it that allows it to be as successful as it is.

Being a member of ASIS is a definite advantage when viewing the website. A small login form in the upper right hand corner provides fast access to member services such as white-paper downloads, guides and best practice sheets for any security professional, in any organization. Logging in also provides access to member registries, though with a limited number of full profile views per 24-hour period, something that may seem like a nuisance, but is in fact a very simple and also effective way of preventing anyone of the hundreds upon hundreds of savvy security people from unleashing a robot on the registry and downloading the whole thing in a matter of minutes.

Though being a member of the organization is a plus, there are a number of resources for the non-member as well. A long list of guides and white papers are available for anyone who visits the site, amongst them are recommendations for disaster planning and best practices for corporate security, and small businesses. There is also extensive information on education, certification, conferences and industry events.

Over all, ASISOnline is a very useful site for security professionals in any area of the industry, and will provide useful tools also for the non-security professional looking to improve standards in companies without the support of a full time security department or security officer.

When it comes to overall performance, the website has a few drawbacks. The first impression is good, but when looking a little closer, it is very clear that many of the categories in the left hand side menu are overlapping, some are even misleading and unclear, and there is no clear or apparent information as to what information is restricted, or what a membership will provide in the way of additional services or offerings. With that lacking, it is hard for someone unfamiliar with the organization to reach a decision, unless the member discount in the online bookstore is enough to tempt the would-be member.

Digging a little deeper into the site’s categories and pages, it is very easy to get lost, since there’s a lack of information as to where on the site you are at any given time. This makes it hard to remember where information is, and every visit to the site necessitates a frantic treasure hunt for the information you’re looking for – you know it’s there, because you saw it the last time you were there, but there’s just no way of knowing exactly where it was, because of the category, menu and overlapping information problems.

Keeping a website running that will work on any browser is hard, and though ASISOnline is trying, it’s just not working well. I’ve had trouble accessing the site from Chrome, and it does have some issues when accessing it from older IE versions. Gearing the website towards newer browsers like Chrome, IE8, Opera and Firefox should be the first priority, but a website that caters to a group of professionals that frequently is forced to work on systems that aren’t being upgraded due to corporate restrictions, be they financial or semi-sensible IT security considerations, needs to be able to run on legacy setups as well. The challenge is real, and despite the difficulties that users on older systems may experience, they will in many cases be more tolerant of the hardship, since their difficulties will often be far worse on sites that feature heavy interactive content like Flash and Java.

All in all, ASISOnline provides valuable information and resources to both members and non-members, both professionals in the field of security and those merely curious. Sometimes messy and hard to find in the current setup, but with a smidgen of patience, the number of resources are well worth a visit a day, at least.

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