At the beginning of 2020, the Trustees decided that the current website required a technical update, due to the end of life of the software being used and to make future maintenance of the site easier. A small working group was set up consisting of Alan Drinkwater, the Editor, and a number of Trustees.
The working group decided that the technical update should be expanded to include a review and update of the website content. The RCA Grapevine email circulation was used to ask residents for feedback on the site and it was then that Lorraine Moriarty responded and became involved with the working group, having some ideas for graphical improvements, and subsequently writing some content.
The new look website was launched in March 2021, with the following aims and achievements:
1. Make it easier to navigate the website
A lot of work went into the improvements in this area, being the window into the website.
The logo was given a make-over and a theme for the website ‘branding’ was created. The drop-down menus were replaced with tiles showing a photo representing that subject with a link to the page below it. An eye-catching function was added for the tiles to flip when the mouse was hovered over them, showing a brief description on the reverse and another link to the page. However, this function only applies to large screen devices, as it did not work well on mobiles.
The header row of Links was reduced allowing the Search icon at the end to be more prominent and the search facility was enhanced.
Each page contains links to go back or return home. The reader can also click on the Rowlands Castle Heritage Centre header on any page to return home.
The Site Map was used as a linchpin in ensuring the site was laid out in a logical order under the Home Page headings. A link to the site map was added as a prominent button in the Home Page header as an aid for the user to be able to view all of the site contents.
Links to external websites have been used where significant extra information is available to the reader, if they wish to learn more about a subject, person, society or organisation.
2. Ensure the Prominence of the Gallery and Model Railway
The Gallery and Model Railway are the two key Home Page tiles, which encourage viewers to take a visual journey or pictorial view of the area and also introduce our major asset – the Model Railway (built by Peter Goss).
The Model Railway is the primary artefact of the Heritage Centre and the reason for its existence. Therefore, ensuring its prominence was of great importance to the working group. To achieve this, the Model Railway tile on the Home Page was enlarged, with the aim of encouraging visitors to the site to view first, the many videos and pages of information about the Model Railway.
The videos of the Model Railway were positioned at the top of the page for easy access and the existing content has a more reader-friendly layout. Links were added to the considerable extra content written by Peter Goss and Paul Marshman.
3. Make the website more attractive and appealing
In addition to the improvements on the Home Page detailed above, a template was created for the content pages, each having tiles with links to headings within that page or to linked pages, where applicable.
As existing content was moved from the old website, it was converted into this new format with extra photos, content and links being added as needed. All new content is created in this format to give the website a coherent look and feel.
4. Make future site maintenance easier
A combination of the new software, the site map plan and the template page design now make the updating of the site much simpler. The new software has also enhanced the website’s security with regular updates. It is planned to train another person in the website software to eliminate the risk of a single point of failure for the website maintenance.
The working group hope you enjoy browsing the website and learning more about the Model Railway and the Village. They would be pleased to receive any feedback, or if you would like to become involved with the Heritage Centre, please email the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.