Saturday, 15 October 2016

Web Officer Report 2016

Nigel writes: This is a brief report on my activities as CTC Cambridge's elected web officer for the past year (November 2015 to October 2016).

Review of activities

Over the past year I have continued to manage and improve the various online services provided by the club:
  • The main website (ctc-cambridge.org.uk) has separate desktop and mobile versions, and includes
    • a front page containing news items, a list of the next week's rides (generated automatically from a central rides database), and links to recent ride reports,
    • the monthly rides lists (generated automatically from the rides database) - desktop version only currently,
    • over 2000 automatically-generated pages of information about each ride we organise, each cafe we visit, and each of our start points, and
    • about 50 static pages of information about the club.

    Hidden behind the website is the "rides database", which contains details of all our rides, start points and stopping places, and which is updated directly by the runs secretary using a special online tool developed for this purpose.

  • The blog section of the website (blog.ctc-cambridge.org.uk) contains 192 news items and a remarkable 1086 ride reports contributed by members.

    Any member is welcome to submit a ride report: they should simply email the text, photos (if available) and a GPX file (if available) to webmaster@ctc-cambridge.org.uk. In addition to reports of club rides, reports of cycling holidays, Audax rides and other rides are also welcome.

  • The campaigning section of the website (rtr.ctc-cambridge.org.uk) contains campaigning articles contributed by the campaigning team.
  • There are a number of live calendar feeds (details at ctc-cambridge.org.uk/calendars) which members can use to add club rides to the calendar application on their mobile phone.

    I'd welcome contributions to improve the step-by-step instructions provided.

  • We have a Twitter account (@CTCCambridge). This is used to publish details of every club ride (using an automatic system) and to promote the club's rides.

    The account has 295 followers, including several senior local politicians and council officers. The account is actively monitored and occasionally people use it to contact the club and ask questions. There is scope to use it more to promote the club's campaigning activities.

  • We also have a Facebook page www.facebook.com/ctccambridge.

    This is currently not actively maintained and would benefit from active management, perhaps by the club's membership and promotion officer. At present all tweets from @CTCCambridge are automatically reposted to this page, though since most tweets are ride announcements the result is not currently very satisfactory: it would be better to publish our rides lists as Facebook events. We currently don't promote this on the club's website and I don't plan to do so until it becomes more attractive.

  • There is a members-only discussion forum. This is a "Google group". Most members particulate using email but it's also possible to read and send posts online at groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ctc-cambridge.

    My main activity here is to verify applications to join the group and help members configure their subscriptions. I also manage a similar Google Group for members of the elected committee. I think it would be helpful if we provided a page of information which explained how the forum worked.


Significant projects in 2015-2016

In addition to normal mantenance, I have carried a number of significant projects over the past year:
  • Ride information pages: These are web pages, one for each ride, that contains all the information about a ride in a single place, including an Ordinance Survey map showing where the ride starts and where each of the cafe or pub stops are. If the ride organiser has provided the planned route as a GPX file then this will be displayed here. After the ride has finished, it is updated to contain a link to any ride report, and the map is updated to show the route that was actually used (if available).

    Users can get to the information page for a given ride by clicking or tapping on the date or name of the ride (e.g. "Thursday 22nd Sep: Thursday ride - village start") in either the rides list or on the weekly summary.

  • Start point information pages: These are web pages, one for reach start point, which contain information about each of the places where our rides start, including an Ordinance Survey map showing exactly where the start point is.

    Users can get to the information page for a start point simply by clicking its name whenever it is mentioned in the rides list, weekly summary, or on a ride information page (e.g. "Haslingfield Green").

  • Stopping place information pages: Once again these are web pages, one for reach stopping place, which contain information about each of the cafes, pubs or restaurants visited by our rides. This always includes an Ordinance Survey map showing exactly where it is, but may also include a photo and additional information such as the street address, phone number and opening times. This information is contained in the central database and members are invited to contribute details and corrections.

    Users can get to the information page for a stopping place simply by clicking its name whenever it is mentioned in the rides list, weekly summary, or on a ride information page (e.g. "LJ's Sandwich Bar").

A smaller project carried out during the year consisted of the changes to rebrand the website to reflect the change of name of CTC to Cycling UK at national level. My role here was to carry out the decision made by the committee to keep the name "CTC Cambridge" but update the website to acknowledge the new name and branding of the national organisation. This involved updates to the banner and the removal of the old yellow and blue CTC logo, which is no longer used.

Planned projects for 2016-2017

A number of projects are planned for next year (subject to being re-appointed to the post of web officer). In additional to normal maintenance these include:

  • Rides lists: Making the full rides lists available on the mobile website, and improving the way these are displayed (on both desktop and mobile versions). This would include improving the appearance of the printed versions.
  • Better menus: Layout modernisation on both desktop and mobile version. This would replace the left column on the main website with a dynamic (pop-up) menu and adding a proper menu system to the mobile version.
  • More maps: Extending the current facility to display the route of a club ride on an OS map to allow any ad-hoc route to be displayed. Currently anyone wanting to publish a ride report which is not a club ride (i.e. on the rides list) needs to publish the route as a Google map rather than as an OS map. This will also make it possible to embed maps showing short fragments of route into a larger document (e.g. a map showing how to cross the A11).
  • More modern website: The website in general is in need of modernisation to reflect the much greater use of mobiles and tablets. There is also scope to improve its appearance and overall style. Major changes are unlikely to occur within the next year, but smaller improvements may be possible.
  • Better navigation in the blog: The hundreds of ride reports on our blog constitute a valuable resource, especially when planning new rides. However it can be difficult to navigate the blog and find the report you want. I'm looking into improving this to make it easier to search for particular types of rides or rides in particular areas.
  • Is there anything you'd particularly like to see? Get in touch at webmaster@ctc-cambridge.org.uk, add a comment below, or speak to me on a ride.
Nigel Deakin, Web officer

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