Sorry to our regular members and visitors for taking the site offline over the weekend. The site was unavailable from Friday the 23rd April until the early hours of Monday morning and went back live roughly around 1:45 am.
There was a couple of reasons for taking the site offline, the main reason was to add information about the free community magazine that we will be publishing at the beginning of July, so while were at it, we decided to de-clutter the site.
One of the major problems we have had with the site is down to the sheer size and rapid growth of the site. We were finding that updating our static pages was getting very messy and cluttered and content was getting lost or not very visible through bad navigation design. This was more apparent for our Image Galleries section.
We therefore took the decision to take the site offline and completely revamp our navigation, update some sections, and add some new sections and remove unused features. 2 volunteers worked tirelessly around the clock and managed to recode 120 pages over the weekend in preparation for the magazine.
What we’ve removed
We have removed and rejigged some features. We no longer run the classified ads section, while it was getting a lot of page views, it wasn’t really being used, yet it took up space and was using a lot of available memory. We also removed all the sidebars from our pages to improve speed load times and allow us to lay out the content in a nicer way and not be so crammed. Lastly we removed the translation option, as we had been having random issues with the feature, and it didn’t always work. We will probably reintroduce the translation option at a later date.
What we’ve changed
The biggest change we have made is to our static pages and navigation. Firstly, we have simplified our navigation by grouping a lot of content into categories better, so finding information on our site should be easier. We have also redesigned our static pages, so information isn’t crammed in-between the sidebars. By removing the sidebars, content is laid out much neater and we have been able to provide more information on each page, with less scrolling.
Since we have removed the sidebars (except on the main page and articles) we have added the profile login and administration panel to the bottom sidebar, so you can still access your profile page from any page on the site.
Also, all our galleries our now located on their own pages, this will allow our visitors to find the galleries they want to look at much easier, it will also allow the images to be indexed by Google better for their image search results.
The other major change is our URL format (web address), previously our domain used a format of assigning numbers and letters to a link (i.e. – lochgelly.org.uk/?page_id=1177) but now we use permalinks, so links now display an easy to understand link format (i.e. – lochgelly.org.uk/terms-conditions/). Anyone linking to us using the old format, these links will still work. We changed the way the links are displayed as they are easier to remember.
There was a bug with our navigation with menus not staying visible when you hovered over them, we did some tweaks and this seems to have cleared up the issue greatly. We will keep an eye on this over the next few days to make sure the bug is gone.
Lastly, due to high usage of the site and high bandwidth, we have added a couple of plugins to boost the overall speed of the site. We now use a cache and Gzip compression for the site. Since most of the page content rarely changes, instead of serving a PHP version of the page to a visitor, we now serve a cached HTML page, which reduces the load on the server and increases the overall speed of the page loading. Gzip compression also speeds up the delivery of the pages
New Sections Added
We have added information about the community magazine we will be publishing, and added a couple of galleries to the site of Perth & Kinross, updated the Ballingry & Lochore Galleries with new images, and made tweaks to a majority of content (updating out of date info, etc.).
What we’ve still to add
We are going to be upgrading the community section as we have to add several groups, such as Mooth O The Yooth, Fife Weather, Lochgelly Baptist Church, etc. We also want to add some historical information for all the local churches and other historical buildings in the area. We are also going to go through our images and create some new wallpapers for people to be able to download for their computers.
We hope you like the changes we have made, and if there is any other changes you think we should make, or hate the current changes, or anything else, please let us know in the comments below.