Following an online report undertaken on behalf of Climate UK; I was asked by the London Climate Change Partnership to implement some changes to their WordPress site. The requested changes were drawn from recommendations I’d made as part of the original audit. So far so straight forward. The trouble began when I opened the site to make the changes.
The site had evolved over the years, taking on idiosyncrasies as it’s keepers changed posts. It contained a fair bit of non-standard code deployed as “work around” for various layout requirements. The maintenance was lacking, with no proper schedule in place, leaving the site vulnerable. Making changes proved very tricky as when once thing was changed it effected some of the non standard features of the site with unforeseen circumstances.
The solution was a bottom up total rebuild, taking the time to rationalise the functionality of the site along the way. To do this I engaged the help of an old friend and colleague Steve Crofts of Glowmedia. Steve is a champion when it comes to this kind of distance work. Working as a scratch team of three; Steve, Climate London’s project manager Nathalie Bellanger and myself, we quickly rebuilt the site and imported the content from the old one.
www.climatelondon.org.uk now benefits from the following key features:
- Multi editor, hierarchical user structure
- Integration with MailChimp to manage newsletters and archive
- Integration with Twitter and Facebook
- File sizes are automatically calculated on upload and the size displayed for the convenience of the site’s readers
- Custom post types
- Custom events system
The new site went live over the Christmas holidays 2015.
Visit the all new London Climate Change Partnership website by visiting www.climatelondon.org.uk
And now, for the fourth year running, I am pleased to announce the unveiling of Unison’s prospectus.
To be honest, my role in this annual project is quite minor, a little light touch project management just about covers me. As ever it is always a pleasure to meet with Unison and discuss what is new this year and how we can best share this with the membership through the print brochure.
The design, typography and layout was by my good friend and colleague Adam McKillop over at 13 Souls. Printing was by Tenfold.
I am often asked about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to which my reply is always to follow good governance. Keep adding new relevant content regularly and search engines will note this accordingly. Recently I went to a Google event in Birmingham where amongst other things their Digital Garage learning platform was announced. I did the free course and found it reassuring that what I have been telling everyone for years is still true.
I can heartily recommend the course. Digital Garage will take about 10 hours to complete if you follow everything carefully and it is worth doing so. The course will step you through the basics leading up to and including local searches, e-commerce and mobile searching. The example companies are small businesses and focus is given to short goals building incrementally. I was a little surprised at how in depth the course became but the complexity built relatively seamlessly. This is not a good course for learning for its own sake. It is, however a great course for small business and organisations who want a practical guide to clawing their way up the google rankings.
For more information search: Digital Garage
Flight Medic UK Director, James Buck, approached me with a view to rebuilding their website after talking to Vale First Responders, a team of community first responders in the Vale of Belvoir. Flight Medic UK is a small company that specialise in medical repatriation.
James was specific about his requirements for the site. It must be quick to download and work well on a mobile phone. It needed to have the infrastructure to engage with search engines and connect to both Twitter and Facebook. The envisaged user of the site may well be using a mobile from a public network from a hospital, a hotel room or airport lounge. James was also very keen on the one page style of website that is currently popular. This is a style of WordPress that I’d not tried before so before I began work with James I installed a theme on my own site to see how it acted. A day of kicking the theme about and it was covered.
Flight Medic UK had an existing site and we decided to use the original content as a starting point. The site came together quite quickly. Working with a third party template is double edged. On the one hand they can be limiting in what can and cannot be done. On the other once the limitations are understood then because they are so quick to install time can be spent on content planning and search engine optimisation (SEO) training.
The site has been live for a while and is performing well. It is regularly updated by Flight Medic UK’s three directors and automatically pushes their updates out to Facebook and twitter.
James was kind enough to send me the following for the testimonial section of this site.
“If you are looking for a presence on the World Wide Web, you need Alan! From the outset Alan was very approachable and knowledgeable. He explained complicated things in a clear, concise manner, making it easy to understand. His workmanship is second to none and has a natural eye for detail. We cannot recommend Alan highly enough!”
James Buck – Finance & Governance Director | Flight Medic UK Ltd.
“Enabling social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical development for adults and children in Romanian care institutions”
I have been working with Muzika Charitable Trust for a few years now. They first approached me through a mutual friend to quickly resurrect a dormant site they ran in readiness for a conference they were hosting in Bucharest.
Following the conference the Trust’s committee embarked on a total overhaul of their web presence. They worked with a young agency the designed a site for Muzika that looked great. After a year of trying to update the site the Trust called on my help again. This time I took what had been delivered and made it work. The point of a site is not necessarily what it looks like (after a point) but how it is used to communicate. It needs to have a reason to exist and the will to keep the content alive.
After the second reworking of the site Muzika Charitable Trust has begun to use Facebook in earnest and have documented their 25th year anniversary there. The site exists to feed Facebook and is added to when there is a reason to add to it. Muzika do fabulous work in Romania, I feel satisfied that when they need it they have a stable web presence to assist them in their endeavors.
Recently I had the honor to to be invited to speak at Rushcliffe’s Town and Parish Conference. The subject was to be “The Use of I.T. and Social Media in Engaging the Community”.
This was, I felt, a tall order. Parish and Town Councils in general do not have a strong track record of community engagement through I.T. Many councils have a website of some kind but not many use them. New legislation surrounding the auditing of Parish and Town Councils could well change this state of affairs. Councils of a certain size will not be audited as a matter of course in the future. However there is a new requirement that more documents than before must be published and made available in the name of transparency. This particularly will effect smaller councils (with a turnover of £6.5m or less per year). Most of the councils in the Rushcliffe Borough in fact.
It seems to be the nature of Parish and Town Councils that their members are middle aged or more. The work that they do is important. In no way do I intend to imply otherwise. But. And there is one. Older people are less likely to use social media or websites to either disseminate information or engage with local communities. A quick show of assent at the conference bore this out. Many delegates did not actively maintain their council websites and did not engage with Twitter or Facebook. I cannot believe that the issue is strictly a technical deficiency, I think there has been cultural shift in how we as citizens engage and communicate that has found Parish and Town Councils left behind and facing a seemingly long haul to catch up. Maybe the legislative stick of published transparency is the incentive for some to begin that journey?
Yesterday I spent a happy day with members of the RideWise team. RideWise are a Nottingham based charity committed to providing practical solutions that make cycling an enjoyable and safe form of everyday transport.
Our day was focused on exploring WordPress in both it’s forms. The .com and .org. (wordpress.com provides a WordPress website/blog that is ready to go within minutes. It has some limitation but is perfect for trying things out and for simple websites. It is free at it’s most simple form. WordPress.org offers the WordPress system for download ready to install and customise to meet the needs of the site holder. This version is also free but needs funds for hosting and a web address.)
The big event yesterday was the partial eclipse. We all downed tools and trooped outside to experience the glory of the sun and moon. We were not alone in our pilgrimage, stepping out of the Lenton Centre we encountered a few others armed with pinhole cameras and masked mirrors for projecting the eclipse. My thanks go to the staff of the Lenton Centre for making our eclipse experience so comfortable. No sun blindness was experienced by our party!
During the rest of the morning we looked at the main differences between the two WordPress systems, how they integrate with social media and discussed how readers first engage with site content. Do readers come directly to the site or do they come through twitter, facebook etc? The jury was out on this debate but I hope I left the team with some food for thought.
Following a working lunch we decided as a group to skip the theory and get practical. personally I believe this a testament for the group as we were originally undertaking an overview for the day. However, there is no substitute for the thrill of setting up a site and publishing your first article. The team set up personal blogs on diverse subjects. One began making a website for their parent’s campsite based in Cornwall, one produced a site for a women’s touch rugby team, one produced a blog reviewing gigs that they had been to and the last (but not least) member of the team produced a blog about fun for everyone. This last blog is destined to use the WordPress language settings to be delivered in Spanish.
A fun afternoon full of energy and reward. I sincerely wish the RideWise team the best with their new sites and hope that they take some of the techniques they are practicing with them into their RideWise work.