Plans for the Website

I should probably introduce myself.

I’ve been into SF for as long as I can remember, and a member of the BSFA pretty much since I first heard of it. But in all that time I had never stepped forward to help. I’m a programmer by trade, so I know my way around a website; and the time was right.

I took over running the BSFA website back in April or May; round about Eastercon, in fact, just as AwardsGate 2012 was about to break over us. But let’s not drag that up again.

I’ve made a few changes since then, but they’ve not been terribly visible:

  • semi-automatic crossposting to the BSFA’s Facebook page now works, as long as the person posting here is registered on and logged into Facebook;
  • automatic tweeting, not so much, yet;
  • daily backups of the database that holds all the posts;
  • the new contact form and its awards-specific counterpart; I get a surprising amount of mail from the former.

And various bits of day-to-day running of the site.

But all along I haven’t liked the look of the site. I’m no visual designer, but I know what I like; or at least what I don’t like. And I’m not very keen on the current layout of the site.

And it turns out that no-one on the committee was particularly wedded to the current design, so I’ve been gradually, slowly, looking into alternatives. We use WordPress, the popular blogging (and much more) software, so there are endless themes to choose from.

Too much choice; a spoiling of choice.

Luckily there are limitations. It has to still support everything the site does a present, particularly the Forums. Those use BBPress, which itself is a plugin for WordPress, and I strongly want to get them looking better and being easier to use, in the hope that we can bring some life back to them.

In the end there weren’t that many themes that support BBPress all that well, and so I chose one of the simplest ones. I have a test version of the site up and running, and no-one who has seen it has complained much about it, so I’m preparing to put the changes live at the end of this week.

Some of the major differences you’ll see are:

  • the “About the BSFA” section and committee list will move to a sidebar, and the latest posts will be front and centre. That should help to keep the site fresh for repeat visitors.
  • There will a calendar function, which should help with the display of event announcements.
  • It’ll all look a lot nicer.

Like any web site it will always be a work in progress, and your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Lastly you might have noticed that we have a new person appearing as a post author recently. Matt Freeman has volunteered to take a major role in providing content for the site, so you’ll be hearing a lot more from him. Please make him welcome.