Well, our new website went live on Tuesday evening. I didn’t really realise when I started it how much effort was required to start something like this from scratch.
Although the support for our old website was really good it was always a bit difficult to do all the things that I wanted it to do. If you just want a website with a bit of updating their system was fine. But as soon as you wanted to muck around with stuff it became more problematic. So, this is some of the lessons that I learnt on building a new website:
Choosing what system to use was generally straight forward. I had already been using WordPress for this blog and I knew that there was a variant of WordPress that allowed more leeway on what you could do on it. I did have a brief look at other systems but I didn’t want the even greater learning curve given time restraints.
The next thing to do was to find a suitable theme to go on it. WordPress has a huge variety of themes to choose from. I was already using a theme from a company called Woo for this blog and ended up with one of their’s called Simplicity. You can roadtest their themes and I tried a few out first. It allowed for lots of variation and the overall look and feel was what I was after from it (hope you like it!!)
The next thing was to find a host that I could put my blog onto. I did a search around and looked at reviews and eventually chose one (this was my major mistake!). I started work on all of this back at the beginning of the autumn but I soon ran into real problems with the slowness of the website. It was sooooooooo slow, sometimes it would just time out. For ages I thought that it was me and that I had coded it wrong. Eventually I just gave up.
Then in the Spring I saw on a website that 123-reg (for that was the hosting company) was lousy for WordPress sites. So, with great trepidation I found another hosting company and tried them and lo and behold it seems to be working really well!
I was struck by some of the interviews with Jonathan Ives the Apple designer who said in one of his interviews:
“Designing and developing anything of consequence is incredibly challenging,” says Ive. “Our goal is to try to bring a calm and simplicity to what are incredibly complex problems so that you’re not aware really of the solution, you’re not aware of how hard the problem was that was eventually solved.”
Now the website wasn’t a huge design problem in anyway the same as a new product (especially when you are using a package), but so much of the work had to be done behind the scenes. Using different solutions (using a bit CSS and HTML), asking and asking Woo on how to do different things. It was the behind the scenes tweeks that took all the time rather than what was up front. Indeed some of the solutions still require some behind the scenes jiggery-pokery (don’t even start me on doing the stories page and how to put the stories behind the pictures!).
Some of the ideas came about through other people saying what they were after – for example the Calendar was the doing of Rob Churchyard who wanted better diary integration and I found it with a plugin called all-in-one calendars. The only problem was that it caused major editing problems until someone on their blog found a solution and after a few tries it seems to work well!
Anyway, the main overall is up and running and I would love you to let me know if there are any problems that you find on it that I need to sort out. I know that a few people couldn’t get to it at first (for those techies out there this was due to the DNS servers and also getting rid of the initial www) but it should all be ok now (but again let me know of any problems I really do want to know).
Do have a look at some of the changes that we have made and please do let me know if there is anything else that you would like to see on the new website or features you would like to have.
Our glorious Treasurer, David, has also come up with a solution to our Church Office, so everything’s sorted now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!