CTC website services

Anything relating to the clubs associated with Cycling UK
User avatar
Simon L6
Posts: 1382
Joined: 4 Jan 2007, 12:43pm

Re: CTC website services

Postby Simon L6 » 18 Nov 2009, 9:22pm

you'll recall that I proposed a resolution to the 2007 AGM calling on the CTC to assist with DA websites. The motion was lost on the chair's casting vote, following trenchant opposition from the majority of council members

byegad
Posts: 3232
Joined: 3 Sep 2007, 9:44am

Re: CTC website services

Postby byegad » 22 Nov 2009, 11:33am

Sadly the opposition at the higher levels of the club seems to me as a member not involved with the running of the club as symptomatic of a general malaise. See the thread on Membership Services for another symptom. Unless we are prepared to grasp new technology and make it work then the club will become increasingly irrelevant to modern cyclists.

Yes I know in the good old days we did it differently but no one wants to write a letter and send a cheque and await a reply any more. They want joined up communications based on the web where you can check on local rides, renew your membership, book a short cycling break and buy a new jersey 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Apart from the fact that the banks are pressing for an end to the personal cheque so the old way will soon be the impossible, peoples expectations have changed.
"I thought of that while riding my bike." -Albert Einstein, on the Theory of Relativity

2007 ICE QNT
2008 Hase Kettwiesel AL27
2011 Catrike Trail
1951 engine

thirdcrank
Posts: 30805
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: CTC website services

Postby thirdcrank » 22 Nov 2009, 3:24pm

byegad

It's a bit ironic really - duck saddlebags and quaint ideas about mudguards are not the way forward in the new millennium, but when it comes to IT............. :?

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1261
Joined: 14 Dec 2006, 8:27pm
Location: Lancing, West Sussex
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby admin » 4 Dec 2009, 3:16pm

Si wrote:
but does need some commitment and funding.


but what are the chances of it getting it?


Dunno. The main website contract was awarded in odd circumstances (I don't want to say too much, as I was one of the bidders who was short-listed but failed to win the work), and CTC National Office don't seem to want to talk about it. I understand that CTC want to cover the main site's hosting fees (many thousands per year) from on-site advertising income. This suggests that there may not be much hope of proper funding for the site's ongoing maintenance. A great pity as the website is by far the largest public face of the CTC, and potentially a very powerful campaigning and information-sharing tool.

Si wrote:I've promised to re-write our MG site over Christmas 'cos it's tired and old. It's not exactly a difficult thing to do (although trying to get the requirements nailed down can be a bit like herding cats :wink: ) but it will take up some of my time that I'd rather spend doing other stuff. If the CTC main site is going to have a facility for MGs to have their own sections then it'd be a waste of my time redoing our own site. Should I do it, or should I leave our site as it is in the hope that there will be a nice MG add on to the national site?


I think the only way forward is for members to get things done on a volunteer basis: after all Member Groups are left to their own devices at the moment. There should be enough members with web knowledge to put their heads together: I have plenty of ideas on what we could do to provide a standard "framework" for member groups to use for their sites. If we agree on a common framework (i.e. Drupal) then we can very easily share site features, such as runs list systems, tea shop lists, events lists, etc. and also share these with the main site (which will be partly Drupal-based as I understand it).

The Christmas break might be a good time to see if we can get a ball rolling.

User avatar
robgul
Posts: 3014
Joined: 8 Jan 2007, 8:40pm
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby robgul » 4 Dec 2009, 4:19pm

admin wrote:
Si wrote:
but does need some commitment and funding.


but what are the chances of it getting it?


Dunno. The main website contract was awarded in odd circumstances (I don't want to say too much, as I was one of the bidders who was short-listed but failed to win the work), and CTC National Office don't seem to want to talk about it. I understand that CTC want to cover the main site's hosting fees (many thousands per year) from on-site advertising income. This suggests that there may not be much hope of proper funding for the site's ongoing maintenance. A great pity as the website is by far the largest public face of the CTC, and potentially a very powerful campaigning and information-sharing tool.

Si wrote:I've promised to re-write our MG site over Christmas 'cos it's tired and old. It's not exactly a difficult thing to do (although trying to get the requirements nailed down can be a bit like herding cats :wink: ) but it will take up some of my time that I'd rather spend doing other stuff. If the CTC main site is going to have a facility for MGs to have their own sections then it'd be a waste of my time redoing our own site. Should I do it, or should I leave our site as it is in the hope that there will be a nice MG add on to the national site?


I think the only way forward is for members to get things done on a volunteer basis: after all Member Groups are left to their own devices at the moment. There should be enough members with web knowledge to put their heads together: I have plenty of ideas on what we could do to provide a standard "framework" for member groups to use for their sites. If we agree on a common framework (i.e. Drupal) then we can very easily share site features, such as runs list systems, tea shop lists, events lists, etc. and also share these with the main site (which will be partly Drupal-based as I understand it).

The Christmas break might be a good time to see if we can get a ball rolling.


NO! .... anything BUT Drupal .... it was a CMS created by techies to make sure that only techies could maintain it - there are waaaay better alternatives that are far simpler and more logical to maintain.

On a positive note ... a "common" format and template is very easy to create ... the issue as said earlier in the thread is getting agreement on "what good looks like" .... some of the stuff that a few CTC groups have is beyond awful and conveys very negative impressions to prospective members.

Rob
E2E http://www.cycle-endtoend.org.uk
HoECC http://www.heartofenglandcyclingclub.org.uk
Cytech accredited mechanic . . . and woodworker

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 15183
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Re: CTC website services

Postby Si » 4 Dec 2009, 4:39pm

the issue as said earlier in the thread is getting agreement on "what good looks like"


Actually I'd put at the front of the queue - a mechanism that allows none IT savvy Member Group Officials an easy route to updating the site on a regular basis.

"Save as HTML" from Word is not such a mechanism in my book :wink: :twisted:

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1261
Joined: 14 Dec 2006, 8:27pm
Location: Lancing, West Sussex
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby admin » 7 Dec 2009, 8:22pm

robgul wrote:NO! .... anything BUT Drupal .... it was a CMS created by techies to make sure that only techies could maintain it - there are waaaay better alternatives that are far simpler and more logical to maintain.


Heh! It depends entirely on how you set it up, although I agree that recent Drupal versions aren't as easy out-of-the-box than more pre-packaged things like, say, Joomla. I have lots of nice easy Drupal sites, happily being updated by people who think "the internet" = "Google" ;)

If you want a techie CMS I'd recommend Plone over Drupal: much more complicated and technical!

As a matter of interest, what would you use?

User avatar
robgul
Posts: 3014
Joined: 8 Jan 2007, 8:40pm
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby robgul » 8 Dec 2009, 10:16am

admin wrote:
robgul wrote:NO! .... anything BUT Drupal .... it was a CMS created by techies to make sure that only techies could maintain it - there are waaaay better alternatives that are far simpler and more logical to maintain.


Heh! It depends entirely on how you set it up, although I agree that recent Drupal versions aren't as easy out-of-the-box than more pre-packaged things like, say, Joomla. I have lots of nice easy Drupal sites, happily being updated by people who think "the internet" = "Google" ;)

If you want a techie CMS I'd recommend Plone over Drupal: much more complicated and technical!

As a matter of interest, what would you use?


Having graduated from "hard core Notepad text editor" through MS Front Page (just for the 1 day!) to MS Word to html (a very short period) to Dreamweaver (inflexible and illogical) and then trying the CMS route with Drupal, Wordpress and Joomla extensively I settled on Joomla for the 12 or so sites that I run (I also had the benefit of being paid (to learn) for developing and managing the content for a very large Joomla based site with lots of bells and whistles from document libraries to picture galleries to three separate e-commerce shops in the same site ... oh and 3 classes of user. all with different access levels to content)

The newer incarnations of Joomla (1.5.x and the upcoming 1.6) have tremendous flexibility and plethora of add-on components and modules for all sorts of functions. Delegating authoring and editing to contributors is much safer with Joomla - much less chance of breaking it!

Rob
E2E http://www.cycle-endtoend.org.uk
HoECC http://www.heartofenglandcyclingclub.org.uk
Cytech accredited mechanic . . . and woodworker

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1261
Joined: 14 Dec 2006, 8:27pm
Location: Lancing, West Sussex
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby admin » 9 Dec 2009, 11:04am

Fair enough, Joomla is roughly equivalent to Drupal, I'd agree - they're often mentioned in the same sentence! I haven't played with it since it was Mambo, when I didn't get on well with it: I expect it's much improved now.

I've never had a problem with applying permissions to users in Drupal: in fact its role-based user permissions system is one of the main things I like about it, perfect for sites with many different types of user. But I'm sure Joomla has the same.

With all these complex CMS systems we tend to prefer the one we know. Certainly it's a steep learning curve getting expert with Drupal, but once you've got the hang of things like Views (effectively a GUI query building tool) it's very powerful to use.

Of course I'm coming from a coding viewpoint, and I find the Drupal API to be very useful for building complex modules like those used in FillThatHole and Stop-SMIDSY.

thirdcrank
Posts: 30805
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: CTC website services

Postby thirdcrank » 9 Dec 2009, 6:01pm

Something like this can be driven by different things and IMO choosing the appropriate technology from what's available should be subsidiary to deciding what will be provided. It seems to me that the first aim for any national membership organisation should be to enable the public to make contact easily. In cycling terms, we are talking about replacing or supplementing the typed runs list displayed in the door of the friendly LBS with something informative that will come up when somebody googles, say, cycling in Leeds. Even something as simple as that can be a nightmare because it's vital that the info should be up-to-date because nothing is worse than somebody phoning the number given for the Hon sec and speaking to his widow, possibly several years after he died.

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1261
Joined: 14 Dec 2006, 8:27pm
Location: Lancing, West Sussex
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby admin » 9 Dec 2009, 6:36pm

thirdcrank wrote:Something like this can be driven by different things and IMO choosing the appropriate technology from what's available should be subsidiary to deciding what will be provided.


Oh, quite, we're merely comparing technologies that can provide the same sorts of things. Almost any modern Content Management System can be set up, or customised, to do this sort of thing: the CTC aren't the only organisation with these sorts of needs, and we can benefit (if using open source systems) from what other people have done.

thirdcrank wrote:It seems to me that the first aim for any national membership organisation should be to enable the public to make contact easily. In cycling terms, we are talking about replacing or supplementing the typed runs list displayed in the door of the friendly LBS with something informative that will come up when somebody googles, say, cycling in Leeds. Even something as simple as that can be a nightmare because it's vital that the info should be up-to-date because nothing is worse than somebody phoning the number given for the Hon sec and speaking to his widow, possibly several years after he died.


Yup, I quite agree. I have a plan (when I find time) to set up a demo site: it'll have runs lists, contact details, tea shops, lunch stops, events, etc. all updatable by the local group(s) and linked together. This isn't particularly difficult technically, just needs some time to set up and perhaps some usability analysis to make it easy for anyone to use. The benefits would be large: combined runs lists published on the national site, refreshment establishments listed in Cyclists Welcome automatically, search facilities ("find bike rides from any group in this area during next week") and facilities to assist runs list compilers ("how many times have we been to the Red Lion in the last three years?").

The main idea is to spread the workload, and use local members' knowledge to keep everything up-to-date. In other words a club website directly run by the club members :)

User avatar
robgul
Posts: 3014
Joined: 8 Jan 2007, 8:40pm
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby robgul » 9 Dec 2009, 6:53pm

admin wrote:
thirdcrank wrote:Something like this can be driven by different things and IMO choosing the appropriate technology from what's available should be subsidiary to deciding what will be provided.


Oh, quite, we're merely comparing technologies that can provide the same sorts of things. Almost any modern Content Management System can be set up, or customised, to do this sort of thing: the CTC aren't the only organisation with these sorts of needs, and we can benefit (if using open source systems) from what other people have done.

thirdcrank wrote:It seems to me that the first aim for any national membership organisation should be to enable the public to make contact easily. In cycling terms, we are talking about replacing or supplementing the typed runs list displayed in the door of the friendly LBS with something informative that will come up when somebody googles, say, cycling in Leeds. Even something as simple as that can be a nightmare because it's vital that the info should be up-to-date because nothing is worse than somebody phoning the number given for the Hon sec and speaking to his widow, possibly several years after he died.


Yup, I quite agree. I have a plan (when I find time) to set up a demo site: it'll have runs lists, contact details, tea shops, lunch stops, events, etc. all updatable by the local group(s) and linked together. This isn't particularly difficult technically, just needs some time to set up and perhaps some usability analysis to make it easy for anyone to use. The benefits would be large: combined runs lists published on the national site, refreshment establishments listed in Cyclists Welcome automatically, search facilities ("find bike rides from any group in this area during next week") and facilities to assist runs list compilers ("how many times have we been to the Red Lion in the last three years?").

The main idea is to spread the workload, and use local members' knowledge to keep everything up-to-date. In other words a club website directly run by the club members :)


Concept - excellent, a "site plan" and then technology. Possibility of fruition - very small, sadly.

Too many options/views/committees/"we've always done it like this" .... and fragmentation (as now) because of the TIME it all takes.

Rob
E2E http://www.cycle-endtoend.org.uk
HoECC http://www.heartofenglandcyclingclub.org.uk
Cytech accredited mechanic . . . and woodworker

User avatar
ellis rowell
Posts: 22
Joined: 20 Aug 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Hardwick, Nr Cambourne, Cambridge
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby ellis rowell » 10 Dec 2009, 9:15am

"A CTC website style guide, complete with standard logos, colours, etc."

Don't go down that road, Webmasters get tired of the layout and want to change it, and so do the members. The Camping Club have done this and it is very restrictive, they have a long list of "approved" things you can put on a website. Regulate the style is the road to boredom.
I was webmaster (amateur) for the Cambridge Group for many years, now we have a webmaster who is fairly high up in the computer world. He has made vast improvements on my efforts and the members like it. I have a very high respect for him and the company he works for (NO! it's not Microsoft).

http://ctc-cambridge.org.uk

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 15183
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Re: CTC website services

Postby Si » 10 Dec 2009, 9:58am

I think that perhaps the ideal would be that the N.O. service is provided for those that didn't want to maintain their own. By opting out they would lose the other benefits but if there wasn't a N.O. hosted MG WS system at all then they wouldn't get the benefits anyway - so no skin off theirs.

Having said that, l&f customisation on a central system is really easy (hey, it's how I made my 'millions'- by selling the same system over and over again, with switchable customisation that made each new customer think it was a brand new system made especially for them :wink: )

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1261
Joined: 14 Dec 2006, 8:27pm
Location: Lancing, West Sussex
Contact:

Re: CTC website services

Postby admin » 10 Dec 2009, 11:26am

ellis rowell wrote:"A CTC website style guide, complete with standard logos, colours, etc."

Don't go down that road, Webmasters get tired of the layout and want to change it, and so do the members. The Camping Club have done this and it is very restrictive, they have a long list of "approved" things you can put on a website. Regulate the style is the road to boredom.


I don't mean more regulation, but a toolkit to assist webmasters. I am regularly asked for copies of the CTC logo, for example, and you can see many sites where someone has "hacked" their own CTC logo, complete with messy JPEG artifacts or limited pallette. The style guide would provide high-quality official logo images in various sizes, specify HTML color codes for the CTC colours, etc. Most CTC site owners, I'm sure, would be happy to have some guidelines to follow. I agree that we don't need regulations.

The Cambridge CTC site is a good example of one where a nice colour scheme (non CTC colours is fine!) and a decent logo and layout provide a professional and pleasant look. Other sites I've seen would benefit from some basic guidance, if only a decent copy of the logo, should they choose to accept the help.

As for a central CTC-supplied "ready-built Member Group site" system, of course this would be optional for groups to use if they chose to do so. It's quite right to allow groups with web knowledge to design and run their own sites - in fact diversity is a good way to encourage innovation. But for groups who have no IT experience, I think a quick-to-set-up and easy-to-use CTC-hosted site would be most useful. There are enough common requirements to make building such a system useful for the majority of groups, I think. And the look-and-feel would be quite separate from the functionality: use a central runs lists database, but give it your own page layout and group colours!

Anyway, any proof will be in the pudding, as they say. Someone (probably me) needs to get on an produce a prototype. Only then will we know whether the idea has wings or not.