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Funds For Learning Website Updates

One of my responsibilities as vice-president of FFL is to help users of our web site have the best possible experience. It is our goal that everyone have access to the tools and resources that can best help them succeed in receiving E-rate funds. With that in mind, I am excited to announce the new Funds For Learning home page. It’s been designed with many types of users in mind. Information on the page is organized from simplest (left panel) to more complex (right panel). Left Panel. NEWBIES. Many visitors to our web site are looking for professional E-rate assistance. Others just need to learn what the E-rate is all about. These visitors don’t know a lot about us or about the E-rate and they are just looking to get started somewhere. Information for these types of visitors is located on the left panel in a shaded zone. Our eyes tend to head there first on a web site, and for the uninitiated, putting the information there will help them get the information that they need quickly, and hopefully not feel too overwhelmed in the process. Just below the “About E-rate” section is the E-rate HelpCenter. This is the starting-off point for more practical information and resources about the E-rate. The HelpCenter is located immediately below the shaded area to help intermediate users who “know E-rate” find what they are looking for. Right Panel. EXPERIENCED. The primary other type of visitor we have on our web site are those who are experienced with the E-rate program. They are looking to find out the latest news, read FFL commentaries, or study an FFL analysis. These people come to our web site frequently and will have no trouble reorienting themselves to finding the information that they need. The latest article, whether it is news, commentary, or analysis, always appears on the top right column. This design helps our readership get the latest insight as quickly and easily as possible. Many of these users also subscribe to our RSS news feeds and follow us on various social media accounts. The blue bar immediately above the right panel carries a tool that allows these “power users” with easy access to these types of data feeds. Center Panel. HIGHLIGHTED RESOURCES. The center panel is narrower than the left and right panels. It is designed to highlight resources, tools, upcoming events, and current initiatives (such as the Increase the E-rate Petition). Top Menu. E-RATE MANAGER USERS. I’ve saved the best for last. The home page enhancement that we are most excited about is for users of E-rate Manager®. The new FFL home page is now integrated into E-rate Manager® (“ERM”). This means that users of ERM will no longer need to open a new browser tab or exit out of E-rate Manager to use the resources on the main FFL web page. They will simply click on the “Funds For Learning” link that appears on the top menu bar, and they will immediately have access to the E-rate news and other items on the main FFL web page. Another click on “E-rate Manager” and the ERM menu bar will return. Here's a short demo video:


Improvements in 2012. This new home page is just the beginning step for a series of improvements that we have planned for 2012. We want to be the most useful resource on the web for E-rate information, news and tools. And we want all E-rate applicants, regardless of whether or not you are a client, to benefit from using our web site. Below is a list of some of the improvements you can expect to see next year: • Improved navigation and search tools for news and other articles. • Enhanced mobile device access • Expanded E-rate HelpCenter I welcome your feedback and questions about the new Feel free to contact me with any ideas or comments that you might have.

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