CLEAR, 20 Years Online

Websites have come a long way since the inception of the Internet. While the Internet can be traced back to the 1960s, 1991 is considered the year the World Wide Web went live. In 1995 the last usage restrictions were lifted, clearing the path for the internet to become what we now know it to be today. (history of the internet)

This year marks 15 years CLEAR has been in existence, it became an official UConn center in 2002. However, there are a few programs within CLEAR that predate it, most notably the CT NEMO Program. CT NEMO has been a part of UConn Extension since 1991. And for much of that time, CLEAR and its related programs have been using the power of the internet to help engage and educate its target audience, Connecticut citizens, its towns, municipalities and community leaders.

Chet Arnold, CT NEMO and CLEAR founder and director, likes to point out, NEMO had a website before our University had a website. I’ve done some research into this, and as far as I can tell, he may be right. Using the Way Back Machine, an online archiving website, the first time it created a screen capture of the NEMO website (see image below, left) was in 2000. However, that screen capture shows a text line on the web page noting the site had been visited 20,770 times since July 18, 1997, AND a screen capture a year later adds to this line, “September 02, 1996 if viewing from the older address”. The first screen capture for the University I found (also below, center) was from December of 1996. Either way, an impressive feat, considering I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what the world wide web was in 1996. CLEAR had its own website soon after its official debut in 2002 (first CLEAR homepage shown below, right).

Website Homepages

These screen captures show how basic websites were in the early days. Today, these sites are very different, both in how they are designed and how they engage their target audiences. The CLEAR website currently has hundreds of pages of information, hosts multiple project websites, tools, interactive maps, webinars, blogs, videos and photos. Users can register for our training events through our site, find presentations and publications, and find links to other related websites, and access our social media sites. None of this is cutting edge, or unusual for a website in 2017, but nevertheless, it is a huge advantage in helping engage the public, and a critical way to give them the information they want and need to make better land use decisions. CLEAR continues to be, as it was then, at the forefront in recognizing how important technology can be in helping improve its programs, share information and better serve its target audiences.

Some interesting online statistics collected for 2016:

  • 22,403 – CLEAR website’s unique visitors
  • 10,129 – CT NEMO website’s unique visitors
  • 24,938 – CTECO website’s unique visitors
  • 8,787 – CLEAR Story Maps’ unique visitors
  • 75,000 – All CLEAR-related websites’ (including CTECO) unique visitors
  • 4,146 estimated hours users spent on CLEAR-related websites.

More online stats include:

  • 29 CLEAR-hosted webinars since 2014, with total attendance of 2,065 live views and 2,651 post-webinar views.
  • 132 blog posts viewed by 3,748 unique individuals
  • 6,200 downloads of the Rain Garden smartphone app
  • 1,203 examples of green stormwater infrastructure in CLEAR’s LID Atlas
  • 4,738 active contacts in our online marketing database
  • 1,536 number of professionals using CLEAR’s listservs

The CLEAR website through the years

Check out the changing look of the CLEAR website homepage over the past 15 years.


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