The Tamborine Mountain Natural History Association Inc (TMNHA) has upgraded its website software systems and added a number of additional functions for our members to add useful content and share information relating to TMNHA activities.
New Website Systems:
Our old website was based on software for which support stopped quite some time ago. We needed to upgrade to a current release which has ongoing service and security support. We have also added many tools to bring more content and member participation.
Our old website was on a server with only 70mb of space. We now have 5gb of space. We also took the opportunity to relocate the primary website to a sub-directory so that we can look at additional tools or websites in the future.
Some users have found their deep links or bookmarks into the old website's content will no longer work. Unfortunaetly the combination of the abovementioned changes was that we could not redirect those links. However, you can quickly find your old favourite content by using "Our Site Search" box or in last hope try the Home menu for a copy we preserved of the old website.
Community Group Focus:
As a community group website, our approach is that it remains a work in progress and that content and functions are more important than perfect look and function of all tools for all user systems. The new website was purposely released before it was perfect as it already had all the content of our old website as well as much more. We will continue to work on layout design and imagery but first we want to ensure best content delivery and tools for our users. We are actively engaged behind the scenes with a number of members to add more content and tool support in the website. So hopefully a lot more will follow.
Design Complexity and Imperfections:
Designing a website is actually quite complex when you decide to provide more content and tools it can get very complex. It is amazing how website coding may work very well in multiple user operating systems or browser choices but fail to work in some small matter in a particular user's system. Some user software (even very popular names) just does not comply with international standards. We did not wish to limit or risk the website's ongoing functionality to a system coded from scratch by someone who may or may not be around later to continue its function or result in expensive consultancies to maintain it. We have chosen open-source (free) systems and tools that have extensive user support on-line for volunteers who have some computer skills but do not need to know how to code, html, xhtml, css, java, flash, php, html5 etc etc etc. Hard coding may improve its performance slightly but can also make it more difficult to maintain the website and pursue a wide variety of content and tools. We hope to provide the best chance for ongoing functionality of the website in the volunteer rotations of a volunteer community group at a minimal cost to the group.
We are also a community group that survives from its members participation. The same goes for our website in that it is only through our members' participation in adding content (e.g. articles, images, videos or data) that we can achieve a website of most use to the members. If a member thinks the website content is inadequate then the web managers will ask that member to volunteer to create or get another member to find and supply that content. The website managers are busy enough with their volunteer time in keeping the website structure functional for that content delivery.
Our Work in Progress:
Here follows a list of matters being worked on or planned to be added (this may not be an exhaustive list) :
- TMNHA banner: The current image is half from our only best image file of our previous website banner. Then individual logos will display, depending in which pages you are viewing eg Bird Group - then our new Lyre bird logo. The right hand side of the banner is then a series of image files which are views of and from Tamborine Mountain.
- Panorama photos in the banner (these change each time you reload a website page or go to a new website page). These photos will be updated shortly - several have been taken and are being formatted for uploading to the website. The current photos are tests.
- Logos in the banner (these change to the sub-group logo when you go to their menu area of the website). Currently we have uploaded the Tamborine Bush Volunteers logo and the new Bushwalkers Logo. The new Bird Group logo (Albert Lyrebird) is being created and will be uploaded soon - first the logo as is at the moment, then the finished logo. The NHA logo (Sugar-glider) is still being created.
- Sidebar content. This can be altered for each menu area of the website. In some areas like the database, events and Gallery they are removed to provide additional screen real estate for those tools. Sub-groups may request removal, additions or re-positioning in their menu areas subject to that not unduly impinging similar display elsewhere in the website. Similarly, some content below articles display is what we call module content that can likewise be adapted.
- Library catalogue: Volunteers are working on typing up a catalogue for the NHA library that can be imported into the website Library catalogue and also downloadable as a document file.
- Database: We are working on extracting data previously recorded in DOS software for advanced search and display in the website. The database system in the website is active meantime if members wish to create a new useful database.
- Email Subscriptions: We have an email subscription system installed but are waiting for available time to set it up for our members. This would allow members to select website content areas for automatic email update.
- Social Networking: We may add tools to make it easier for members to share their favourite content with their preferred social networking platform online; this will depend on feedback from our members.
- Members Forum: A great way to share association matters of interest is by using a Forum where discussion threads can be created and members participate. A great benefit of using this forum process is to retain useful knowledge for current and future member reference.
- Menu System: The horizontal top menu can be altered according to member's needs and for specified content additions. What we have is just a starting structure.
- Members login: Eventually some content will only be available with a login. With next years membership renewal (2011-2012) due July 2011; we will setup user logins. This will happen as we receive the new membership list, probably August 2011.