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 Parish Council website
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neil
Forum Owner / Moderator

United Kingdom
2623 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2012 :  15:11:35  Show Profile
I see that Angmering Parish Council now has its new website - see www.angmeringparishcouncil.gov.uk

On the plus side, there is a far better structure and it's easier to navigate. News items are being forced into a logical order at last. Additionally, text size can be increased for those who need it.

On the minus side, my personal view is that it is cold and unwelcoming. It is what it is - an Arun District Council standard format that will fit every parish council that wants to use their template.

If you want to compare this with a warm and friendly parish council site (who do not use Arun's template), see the Rustington Parish Council website at www.rustingtonpc.org It even has photos and addresses of all their parish councillors - how's that for openness!

These are just subjective personal feelings and I may be entirely wrong. What do others think?

jammer
Senior Member

172 Posts

Posted - 13 Jan 2012 :  10:35:22  Show Profile
My opinion may be biased as I work in IT, however the "standard template" that Arun supply is fresh, modern and more importantly incorporates most of not all of the standards needed to make the site accessible. Including changing the contrast so that vision impaired people can see it. Also I would imagine it reads nicely in a text reader, which frame based sites don't.

Well done to the parish council. This is a good and positive step. It is important to keep site design up to spec as they can begin to look dated and out of keeping with modern web standards very quickly.

One of the benefits of using an approved template is the ability to incorporate all of the testing that will have been done on that template to ensure that it fits all users needs, rather than fitting indivdual taste. I know from experience that a lot of work is done in this area and it is extremely important.

Things like including a site search are an extremely important consideration to help people find data, without needing an implicit knowledge of the site or its navigation.

Im not saying its perfect but I think it is a positive move by the parish council. Well done again.

personally I don't find it cold and unwelcoming, rather I find it is much more in keeping with other modern websites which makes it feel more like part of the rest of the web.

My opinion only of course.

Out of interest Neil do you plan to update your site look and feel? there is nothing wrong with it, but all things could use a spruce from time to time. Very rare to see sites keep the same design for more than a couple of years these days. Don't want to be controversial, just wondering.


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Karl@KCM
Senior Member

United Kingdom
169 Posts

Posted - 13 Jan 2012 :  11:10:13  Show Profile
Coming from a web design background, I think this is a positive step forward in an online prescence for the parish council, it is clean, crisp and professional looking.

It's definitely an improvement on their old one.

And I'm sorry Neil, its not comparable with the Rustington website, which admittedly is more friendly, but it is poorly designed (looks quite amateurish, is that the right thing to be showing for a parish council?)
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Paul
Advanced Member

319 Posts

Posted - 13 Jan 2012 :  23:30:24  Show Profile
Style and presentation can be very much a matter of taste and I found some of the Rustington site cluttered and poorly formatted, especially where councillors' photos and text tried to occupy the same space. What I found under "Allowances" on the Rustington site was for the year 2007/8 so appears 4 years out of date. The rest of the site is dated 2008 so may be due a review.

Not strictly connected but what I find most "wrong" is the overly-long URL - www.angmering.gov.uk whould have been much better in my opinion.

Whatever style is chosen, of principle importance is keeping it up to date and correct.
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deb8
Average Member

59 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2012 :  08:06:35  Show Profile
Just viewed the website. Find it user friendly but extremely clinical. Don't think the photo shows off Angmering to its best advantage and have seen much better photos, incorporating the same scenery, in the past.



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neil
Forum Owner / Moderator

United Kingdom
2623 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2012 :  10:15:20  Show Profile
Interesting comments. Perhaps Deb8 has expressed my feelings better than my own about the new Angmering PC site - relatively easy to navigate but clinical.

What is "king" on any website is ease of navigation. There are far too many flash sites around that look good on the eye but are a nightmare to find your way around. The problem is that many website designers have no experience of sales/marketing and often do not put themselves in the shoes of the user.

Only time will tell with the APC site. At present, there is very little content compared with the Rustington PC site which carries about 10 times the amount of information.

I still believe that the Rustington site is easier to navigate, particularly with the vast amount of information on the site. What lets it down - and I understand the "amateurish" comment - is its rather bizarre colouring which is far too intense anyway and inconsistently used. But you need to look beyond that to find how useful it is to users.

Angmering PC's site suffers from the global template and the opening page does not even have a short paragraph about Angmering or where it is - you have effectively to go down a level to find that. The APC logo now looks amateurish and spoils the look of the page. However, I'm not suggesting APC spends 20,000 on getting a new one designed!!! Neither do the washed-out photos help

Probably the poorest use of the opening page is the "What's On" box - what a waste of space! This points to the Arun events page. Type "Angmering" in the search box and not a single event comes up for the next year. That's the problem with using a template; there's probably no way of deleting such a useless feature. If it was possible, I would suggest in its place is a link is made to the AVL Events/Diary page where many people in Angmering post their events.

Anyway, an interesting debate on such a subjective matter.

And the future of the AVL site? The need to constantly keep the site fresh by design will probably not happen although there are periodic tweaks that most readers do not notice. Unlike commercial sites and those of organisations such as Councils, I do not have to constantly redesign the AVL site. If and when people get tired of AVL, I will simply close it down.

To me for the AVL site, the most important thing is to keep the material as fresh as possible - and this is manifested in the News, Events/Diary, Policing, Weather, and Transport pages which are updated regularly. Coupled with this is ease of navigation and viewability which needs to be checked periodically on several platforms. The site seems to load OK into my new Android tablet but does not lend itself to smart phones.
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roosterbri
Advanced Member

United Kingdom
553 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2012 :  10:57:14  Show Profile
I agree with Neil, I think this site is fine in its present format. If it ain't broke......
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deb8
Average Member

59 Posts

Posted - 15 Jan 2012 :  01:08:32  Show Profile
This website is excellent and we are extremely spoilt to have so much local information at our fingertips.

As Roosterbri said 'if it aint broke...' or might I add 'Don't look a gift horse in the mouth'!!
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KeithS
New Member

United Kingdom
4 Posts

Posted - 15 Jan 2012 :  12:36:59  Show Profile
The AVL site works fine on my android mobile phone. In fact I can now read the News page without the screen freezing!
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Maxiboost
Average Member

United Kingdom
37 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2012 :  14:06:59  Show Profile
Much prefer the clean lines of the new Parish website, but that's just a personal opinion. My post below is slightly moving away from the OP but hey...

So, on to AVL website. Firstly, and as always, kudos to Neil for his usual great job content-wise!

This is not a moan at all (and I accept I may be alone here) but I'd love to see AVL move to an open source Content Management System, something like Blogger or Wordpress using a nice template which based on the current site colour scheme.

This would then give the ability to structure/manage the news more efficiently (saving Neil bags of time I would imagine.. not to mention having 'trusted' contributors if he wanted to share the load/go on his hols!) and have value-added features such as RSS feeds for the news content and auto-posting to, say, Twitter, Facebook etc. And it's really easy to set-up and maintain which is always a bonus.

I have to admit I do not visit AVL as often as I used to (or should!) as frankly it doesn't fit in with my current way of receiving news (which atm is mainly RSS feeds and Twitter)... I have to remind myself to come here, something I am not very good at doing - and normally by the time I do arrive the news is out of date (and I kick myself!!)

As with everything there are pros/cons to using alternative methods - I know Neil will be aware of all this already so it will be nothing new to him.. but I do think AVL needs to keep up with the times (eek, that sounded harsh, apologies) - like it or not the way in which we receive news online is changing (or has changed).

Well done though and keep up the good work, without AVL we'd be left well and truly in the dark.

Oh, and btw, @AngmeringVL and alternative usernames are still available on Twitter at the time of writing.
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roosterbri
Advanced Member

United Kingdom
553 Posts

Posted - 22 Jan 2012 :  05:40:52  Show Profile
Why the heck would we want the site on Facebook/Twitter???? (whatever twitter is)

I would suspect a lot of people who read the site are not twits, do not use facebook or blog.
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Karl@KCM
Senior Member

United Kingdom
169 Posts

Posted - 22 Jan 2012 :  09:00:18  Show Profile
I'm afraid roosterbri, in the terms of an online prescence, social media is the way of the future.

It depends on what you want from a website, and I'm not sure this site would benefit from social media.

I can understand MaxiBoosts comments though, it is possible to create a link between the news and a twitter account, which then every time new news is posted it would automatically post to twitter. It's just another way of people being able to peruse the site.

With the wide and varied amount of different ways of getting online (mobile phone,ipod,ipad, computer) anything to help that is a bonus?
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neil
Forum Owner / Moderator

United Kingdom
2623 Posts

Posted - 22 Jan 2012 :  09:14:19  Show Profile
This thread has got somewhat off topic. However, what I will say is that I'm not going down the social networks route with AVL. And before anyone asks, yes I do have a Facebook account.

However, RSS has much merit - I have used it on the News page for bringing in news from the Littlehampton Gazette for the last year until it failed for some reason a couple of weeks' ago.

Back to the parish council website, it's new style certainly makes it easier to navigate - all it now needs is content and some decent text on the home page which would make it more personal when entering the site. Giving the logo a makeover with a bolder outer gold circle and bolder lettering would also help. The present logo looks as if it has been produced from sucessive scans.
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