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HomeAdministrationReports ♦ Website Report: 02-Sep-2018

Website Report: 02-Sep-2018

Written by Kevin Machin.

(PDF: viewdowload)

Summary

  • I'm standing down as web administrator.
  • The current website ends on 3rd September 2018.
  • A new, simpler website will replace it.
  • Long term projects have been shelved or cancelled.
  • Best wishes for the future.

Standing Down

This will be my last website report, as I'll no longer be involved from 3rd September 2018.

I actually resigned from the committee in December 2017, but I've been standing in as web administrator since then. I can no longer afford the time to fulfil this role, so I must pass on the responsibility to others.

Unfortunately, this will have a profound effect on the website. I made big efforts to keep the site going in it's current form, but it eventually came to light that this is won't be possible. The reasons are explained in the Devolution project section, later in this report.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at NAWG; committee, staff, volunteer helpers, and members; for their time and dedication. It's been a very enjoyable four and a half years. Good luck and best wishes for the future.

My Potted History
Mar-2014 Started working on the website.
Aug-2014 Joined as an individual member.
Sep-2015 Voted onto committee at AGM.
... Worked as web administrator, plus various other roles.
Dec-2017 Resigned from the committee.
Sep-2018 Retired as acting web administrator.

Content

This section describes what's been happening regarding the website's content.

Review

One day, I noticed that there were nearly 500 articles on the site, so I started thinking about how much of this information is still useful, or whether some of it should be removed.

I kicked off a small project to review the website's content and, perhaps more importantly, to try to come up with a policy about how long things are kept. You can read more about this content review on the documentation wiki, but here's a summary:

  • The project gained some initial interest but that quickly faded.
  • It was agreed that old, expired adverts served no purpose.
  • There were mixed thoughts about articles showing past events and older, now closed competitions. Some felt those articles should be removed, but others thought they'd be of historical interest and should remain. No firm decision was reached, so the articles remain for now.
Adverts Cull

All expired adverts were removed from the site. The new policy is not to retain old adverts, as they serve no useful purpose unless the advertiser decides to renew.

Article Retention Policy

No firm decisions were made, regarding a more general article retention policy. This may be something that is revisited, once the new website is up and running.

Statistics

Here are some statistics about the website's content, plus emails.

Since Last AGM
Articles: 70 Includes posts and pages.
Comments: 11 Includes originals and replies, but not spam.
Software updates: 7 Details in a later section.
Email messages: 1,630 Approximate figure.
Since March 2014 (when I became web administrator)
Articles: 401 Site total: 453
Comments: 99 Site total: 205
Software updates: 29 Details in a later section.
Issues fixed: 44 (of 51 raised.)
Email messages: 6,350 Approximate figure.

Software

Content is only one part of the equation that enables the website to function. The software that drives it is also a crucial component. Over the years, a lot of development work has been applied to the software. Something that may not always be immediately obvious.

Releases Since Last AGM

Release Date Description
2.8.0 18-Oct-2017 Front page improvements.
2.9.0 22-Dec-2017 Security hardening.
2.9.1 16-Feb-2018 Software component updates.
2.9.2 20-Mar-2018 Header, footer and side bar changes.
2.9.3 20-Jun-2018 Support for privacy & personal data documents.
2.9.4 23-Jul-2018 Software component updates.
2.9.5 07-Aug-2018 "100" competition bug fix.

Full details of all the website releases can be found on the release history page (while it lasts).

Projects

Here is a round-up of some of the more significant projects that have been undertaken in recent times.

Devolution

An ambitious project was set up, whose main purpose was to devolve responsibilities for the website from a single person (me) to multiple individuals. The idea was to spread the workload across the committee members, staff and helpers. Details of the project are on the documentation wiki.

The project ultimately failed. The underlying reasons for this are given below but, in a nutshell, we do not have sufficient nor appropriately skilled staff who are willing to make it happen with the current website. This itself is an unfortunate consequence of the complex levels of technology that are used to power the site. I personally have the knowledge and skills to work with this technology, indeed I developed a large proportion of it, but others on the present list of staff do not. In essence, I painted myself into a corner.

In December last year, I became very busy, both with life in general and with the ever increasing workload with the NAWG website and related IT systems, such as managing our email. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I had to step away from it and move on. Little did I realise at the time that this process would take nearly nine months to complete.

I took us all down the wrong path and for that I apologise. I wanted the website to remain at its current level of technology and hopefully usefulness. At the time, I genuinely believed this would be possible. It turned out not to be the case. I'd summarise the reasons as:

  • The project was too ambitions in terms of time commitment from all involved.
  • The level of involvement and motivation was disappointingly low.

So now we've arrived at a point where I have no option but to burn the existing website to the ground and allow others to start again with a new and simpler website. I cannot afford the time to maintain the existing one by myself and there are no others in place to do so.

Migration

A new website is being developed in a project being led by Henry Curry. He'll be telling you more about this in due course.

As the devolution project was cancelled, our attention turned instead to a migration one. This involves things like:

  • Building a website on a new host: 1&1.
  • Copying selected content from the old site to the new one.
  • Transferring domain names to the new host.
  • Re-implementing an email solution.

Details can be found on the documentation wiki.

Search Engine Optimisation

A fair amount of behind-the-scenes work has been done to improve our rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). Full details can be found on the documentation wiki.

Communications Review

This is not specifically a website project, but more of a general information technology (IT) concern. There have been criticisms of NAWG's delays in responding to communications. I felt that, even though we are all part-time volunteers, there was still room for improvement in the way we handle communications.

For this reason, a project was set up to review this situation. Details are on the documentation wiki. Due to a lack of momentum and available time, perhaps somewhat ironically, the project has been shelved.

GDPR Compliance

The project is far from complete, but we've made some good progress towards becoming compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force on 25th May this year. Details can be found on the documentation wiki.

We now have a series of working documents that form our policy and practices regarding privacy and personal data. You can read them and/or download them through our privacy portal.

Future

Now that I'm leaving, the committee are building a new website, one that will be simpler and hopefully easier to maintain by several contributors. As I said earlier in the report, the project is being coordinated by Henry, so I'll leave you in his capable hands.

Good luck and best wishes.

— Kevin Machin, August 2018.

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Posted by: Kevin Machin Date: August 17, 2018 3:59 pm
Categories: Reports Tags: AGM
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