OK, so here we have it. Many thanks to the Parish Council for sponsoring the site – don’t forget that this is your site, so make it work for you.
Since just about everything from the old site has been removed, if you have any bookmarked pages, you’ll need to reset them.
The old “Have your say” forums are still there but locked down and are being kept purely for reference. If you do need to take a look then you can find them here.
UPDATE: JANUARY 2012
We ran out of disk space on the servers and as result the old forums have now been removed.
Historically, web sites have tended to have a home page with basic information, and links running off to other pages, which is exactly what the previous Sutton site had. The problem with those is that people can’t see what is going on, what has changed, and more importantly what is interesting to them. If they can’t see it they have to dig around through the links in order to find it. If nothing has changed then they’ve wasted time looking for something that never existed. Worse still, they’re never sure until they dig through every page, every time they visit the site. Since things don’t all change at the same time, the chances of finding changes on every page when you visit once a month, or once a week is zero! If this sounds familiar then you’re not alone.
The new paradigm is technically called a “mash up”, which brings together not just static information, but also dynamic content such as maps, calendars, and information as it happens. Taken together they give a picture of the entire site and what it is trying to portray. They also give the ability to pull things in from other places (e.g. Village Hall and Neighbourhood Alert), again adding value.
In the village we have a whole load of things going on at any one time – it’s an incredibly dynamic and active environment. From that perspective, what we have in our village is actually many volunteers giving their time and efforts to the community. Which one is important, or more important than another? None! They’re all important – maybe not to everyone in the village, but certainly to the group providing it. So, how do we decide which ones disappear onto a page that you have to dig around for? Fundamentally, the answer is that we can’t. I would go further than that, and say we actually don’t want to.
So, if you think the new site is “busy” well guess what, the reason you think it’s busy is that you’ve never seen all the things that go on all the time in the same place. No-one else has seen the village in this light either, which is a good reason for showing it in this way. Not only that, but with a more balanced view of village life, I sincerely hope that everyone will suddenly see just how busy the village is, and they will see things they simply weren’t aware of previously.
The new site makes it perfectly obvious what has happened. It is “busy, but there’s a reason for that – the village IS busy. It’s important to realise, and show, that things are happening all the time. This is your village, but did you know about all this stuff?
I wanted to create a site that is vibrant, information-rich, easily accessible, and representative of all the bodies within it. I’m not claiming it’s perfect but it will tune itself over time. In fact if you look at it today, it will have changed considerably from what it looked like when you last looked at it. This is a reflection of the village dynamics – things change on a daily basis. What was important yesterday isn’t as important today. That’s the way it should be, not stuck with a set of pages that nobody ever visits.
Rather than counting icons, a better view would be to count “bodies”. So today we will have quite a number of different village “bodies” showing on the home page. This not only shows that they are just as important as everyone else, but also gives them an equal presence on what after all is a community web site. Their work is showcased and recognised; everyone can see how the community works, and who is doing what – probably for the first time.
So enjoy, and thanks for looking.