Why Re-launch?  (a sorry tale)




When the committee first decided to put up a website we wanted to have an ad for the Society to attract new members – old Le Willows people who might be googling.  And we wanted to use it to broadcast dates of meetings and events.   But nobody on the committee had any knowledge of websites;  nor did we have much money to spend on such a thing.





So  we found a ‘free’ hosting facility and our Chairman designed the original site.  But he had time problems keeping it up to date,  and when the ‘free’ facility closed its doors we decided to pay to get a professionally developed site with ‘content management’ through the browser so we could spread the updating load among ourselves.  The result was the site we’ve had until April 2003,  but it wasn’t what we hoped for.  The technical  design meant we couldn’t change anything apart from text unless we paid for more programming.  It didn’t seem  to work properly,  and the email forwarding system didn’t seem to work either.



When we conducted our membership survey in 2002 we found,  not really to our surprise,  that no-one else liked it either.   What did surprise us was that the same respondents said we should continue to have a site: we just had to make it work,  and they told us all sorts of things they’d like to see on it.   But we couldn’t do any of these things with the site we had.  Worse: it was invisible to the search engines for some reason,  so its original purpose was lost. 





So your Webmaster (as he then wasn’t) offered to see what might be done.  Like the rest of the committee,  I knew nothing practical about website building and only one word of html,  which was ‘html’ (but you get to use that twice on every web page).  Still,  I’m used to learning new IT stuff quickly and learned enough to propose a new approach.



So I designed a site that uses file transfer for updating,  like most other sites,  but structured so that several people working  independently can update different sections without clashing,  and using Microsoft Word rather than anything more specialised.  Word isn’t ideal for site building,  but it’s easier than raw html,  and all those involved already had the package and knew how to use it.   What I would have to do would be to prove it could be used like this and prepare some sufficiently simple instructions to tell people how to prepare pages for the site.





So we abandoned the professionally designed site and substituted the one you see,  to give us full control over content.  We put the new site on the same host to begin with,  because we still had a year’s subscription to use up.  But the host was more expensive than we thought was reasonable,  yet offered under 4Mb. of web space.   So from November 2003 we’ve moved it to a new host (1&1) offering 500Mb. of space and a considerably reduced rent.