The purpose of this site
- To provide a clear and up to date picture of the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild, all its Districts and all its Towers, which is useful to our members, visiting ringers, and interested members of the public.
- To encourage ALL Guild members to see themselves as taking part in not just their local band, but their District, their Guild, and the wider bellringing community.
- To gather into one place, all the news about ringing in Towers, District activity, and Guild activity.
- To give users selective views of this news so that they can find out about, for example, ringing in a particular tower, a specific event, the plans and reports of a committee, or what’s on this week, but not be overwhelmed by news they have no interest in reading.
- To have a team of people contributing to the Guild’s web presence in such a way that the service is not interrupted by any individual’s holidays, busy periods or health problems.
- To avoid a solution of ever-increasing numbers of different tower and district and guild websites, all with different webmasters and technology, a proportion of which are orphaned and create ongoing headaches for those wishing to move on. This orphaning occurs at eveny level right up to National, and can only be avoided by having a team of experts sharing the work.
- To make most effective use of money and manpower. Although some websites are free, high quality functionality is not, and it is a significant increasing cost over the whole guild to run mutliple different sophisticated websites.
- To provide for change over time. The software used for this prototype (WordPress) is a commercial offering which is continually being enhanced with new functionality and new “look and feel” packages. These are very simple to install and can be done on the fly without any reprogramming of existing sections of the website. This supports a developing solution rather than creating a need to “get it perfectly right” once and for all time which, given the voluntary nature of the people involved, is a tall order.
- Why WordPress? WordPress is the leading software for blogging (news making, originally for individuals keeping online diaries). It is a fairly common choice for bellringing websites because of ease of use, good management of photos, videos, slide shows, audio files, excellent interfaces with Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and when new social media arrive on the scene, they also are included. Businesses are increasingly choosing WordPress for commercial use because it is a cost effective solution providing really good functionality, attractive websites, with very low levels of programming skills needed. Although we do not pay for our technical support, it is a shortage commodity in the exercise and WordPress allows newsmakers (tower captains, secretaries etc) to post their own news with about an hour’s training. Even the overarching role of webmaster would require more training but not programming skills, making roles within the team open to far more ringers.
- To build in the recruitment and training of this team as part of the design process.
- To have a simple design which enables team members to easily add news and a simple (tick-box-based) way of deciding which views the news is to be part of. A facility to email news in is also being tested.
- To support towers’ efforts in recruitment by providing a view which displays recruitment news, and news about bell handling lessons.
- To support our Public Relations by providing posts which are intended to be read by non ringers, and backs up any press releases we do with further information.
- To include relevant (inter-)National News items and make members aware of the rich resources available elsewhere.
Nuts and Bolts of the design
- The creation of a busy news stream from towers across the Guild is a new initiative which has been successfully trialed in Christchurch and Southampton District Members have commented that they like to know what is going on, even if they cannot go and ring everywhere.
- The current news stream on http://www.wp- ringers.org.uk is effective at holding a limited number of items but is rightly limited to things of interest to all the Guild, and is not easily extendable to news at tower level such as recruitment initiatives and practice night reports. Some Districts and Towers have their own news streams but currently a user has to belong to multiple email lists, facebook groups, and visit a myriad of sites on a regular basis in order to get any overall picture of what is going on across the Guild.
- The WP and District Facebook Groups is intended for discussions and questions, and announcements. But where material is INTENDED for the website it can be copied and made into a post there. This applies to practice night cancellations, or reports from the towers, and is done by agreement.
- The WP Guild site holds contact information for each tower and for each committee member. This is a vital function and is part of the new site. Design ongoing, and will eventually link with the planned membership database.
- Where contact details are needed in addition which are not in this category (eg for a one off event, or if a person wants more information displayed such as a link to their facebook profile) then they can be easily put onto this site.
- The gazeteer of towers on Dove is comprehensive and provides very powerful search facilities (such as “find 6 bell towers within 10 miles of my postcode which practice on a Thursday”). So a user of this site wanting to do a sophisticated search will be sent through to Dove.
- The current Guild site holds a list of forthcoming events in each District plus the Guild AGM and education events etc. Hot links can be provided as needed for “more information” but typically, events are put onto calendars months before the details are confirmed. This allows members to plan ahead and keep days free. The new list is partially complete here
- Once an event is imminent and the details known, the real “push” of publicity happens. This already includes adding details to http://www.wp- ringers.org.uk, posters for tower notice boards, emails to tower contacts, facebook posts, tweets, and sometimes Campanophile or RW. With this new site (and indeed with the current C&S site) it would also include a post, or series of posts, of news about the event with appropriate pictures or videos. This proposal is based on the belief that people are more likely to read and act on an advertisement for an event if it includes images, video, colour, and is presented to them several times (preferably in slightly different ways or different media). These can easily be shared onto Facebook and sent our as email reminders as well.
- The power of posters in towers is significant and it would be most counter-productive to make any attempt to phase these out, because people are MUCH more likely to attend an event if a person known to them invites them, and the presence of the poster stimulates this type of invitation and acts as a gentle reminder to busy ringers that the event is coming up.
- Currently there are a large number of overlapping email groups and lists used to spread news around. Moving of information between relevant websites, email, twitter and Facebook is ad-hoc and labour intensive. The design of this site allows emails to be automatically generated when news is posted, to those who have opted into receiving it. This would allow one person (eg a secretary) to create a news post, and by ticking the desired boxes, include it in the appropriate views and send emails to the appropriate people, all in one step. the software to achieve this (Mailchimp has been suggested as an option) is in use in other bellringing groups. STILL AT FEASABILITY STAGE
- Some websites may be decommissioned once this site is operational. Decomissioning would be ENTIRELY the decision of the owners of each site, and would only be sensible as and when ALL the functions of the old site have been transferred, with their input, to this one, tested and agreed to be working. This decommissioning needs to be carefully planned because it risks leaving broken links in what is a highly interconnected world of bellringing websites.
Take a Tour
Some parts of this prototype are more finished than others… try these “views”
- Home page with featured items and basic Guild Menus
- Christchurch and Southampton District Page with local news
- Christchurch Priory Page accompanied by Priory news only, includes embedded video and tweet stream
- Brading Bells page – example of a page that leads the reader on to the local pre-existing tower page
- Learn to Ring page (with news about learners)
During your tour, if there is something you don’t find, let us know! (reply box below)