Our new website is six months old, and it seemed like the right time to check in with updates and observations.

I’m happy to report that most reviews of our website have been positive. People like the SWOG.org design, and they find the new tools to be useful. And they are walking the walk. Analytics show a 32 percent increase in web users and sessions with the new site, and a 39 percent increase in brand-new users. Also, because of the new content management system, and search engine optimization, we’re seeing more people come to SWOG.org through search engines. Analytics show a 56 percent increase in web traffic from search engines, and a 260 percent increase in traffic from social media. This tells me that members and the public want to use the website.

These results were presented last week at the annual Society for Clinical Trials conference, which was held this year in Portland. Kudos to the SWOG.org core team – Wendy Lawton and Courtney Wille from SWOG, Morgan Cox from The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research, and Chris Cook from the SWOG statistics and data management center – who gave the website presentation, and who shepherded the year-long project to completion.

To be fair, not everyone loves the new SWOG.org. Some have struggled with the new log-in system. The core team has catalogued feedback since the November site launch, and are working with iFactory, our web development firm, on the first round of improvements. These include:

  • A new page for troubleshooting log-in issues
  • A direct link to SWOG’s training materials
  • A better connection to the new Study Chair Workbench
  • More fields for trial and presentation searches
  • Allowing directory searches for partial names
  • Improved displays for safety reports and pharmacies

Most of these improvements should be complete in a couple of months.

Finally, it’s worth noting that – for the first time – some elements of the new site are no longer under our control. The National Cancer Institute mandated a log-in change for all group websites in the National Clinical Trials Network. This means that you now use CTEP/IAM credentials, not SWOG credentials, to get onto the members-only portion of our site. This also means SWOG no longer issues and updates the main passwords – and our staff can’t help you when there are CTEP log-in problems. Questions and concerns go to the NCI instead. In addition, starting in March, all SWOG and other NCI protocols are posted only on the NCI’s Cancer Trials Support Unit site – not to network web sites. So if there is a problem with a protocol – it’s down or needs to be updated – the NCI makes the fix.

Change isn’t easy. But it allows us to move forward. Overall, I feel good about the direction the new website is taking us.