Website Review: St George’s Cathedral

st-georges-cathedral-feature

One of the best way to find ways to improve your own website is to look at the competition to see what they do, and what you can learn from them. Today, I’m looking at the website for St George’s Cathedral, Perth.

Home Page

The home page has a rotating flash banner with well-chosen images, with a message over the top of each image. Below that is a three column layout where there is an image based navigation on the left, a short welcome note, including a link to sign up for the e-mail newsletter, and Latest news in the centre column, then a virtual tour and upcoming events in the right column. Continue reading

Kalgoorlie!

I headed up to Kalgoorlie this weekend for work. I was performing some Website training for the Uniting Church congregation up there. I caught the train up there and back, which may have sounded great in theory but there was a whole heap of fun on both trips.

On the way up there, it was fairly uneventful – apart from the guy next to me sleeping the whole way which made it difficult for me to get out to get dinner. I got out easy, but I think I woke him up when I climbed back in. Oh well. We were also slowed for a little bit as there was a car crash in West Kalgoorlie, which apparently pushed the boom gates across the track, so we had to wait to get that fixed. I think we ended up being half an hour late. I was billeted with a lovely older lady, Fae, who was an absolute delight to stay with. Continue reading

A-ha! So that’s the problem, now what’s the solution?

Lightbulb Sun

Image via Wikipedia

Ever since the Uniting Church had their website re-done back in 2008, they have had an Activity search in the top right hand corner. And it works great… mostly. There was one big problem – sometimes it wouldn’t return results that should be there. For example, if you type in “greenwood” it would return that there were no Churches within 15km of Greenwood. Despite having a Greenwood Uniting Church in Greenwood. However, if you were to search “Kingsley” – the suburb directly north of Greenwood, it would return Greenwood Uniting Church as the closest church.

When I started at the Uniting Church, this was one of the problems I had noticed with the website. But I didn’t know what was causing the problem. Until one day, when talking about it with my manager, she said that if you typed the state as well, you got the correct result. A-ha! my mind went, so that’s what the problem was.

See, our activity search uses the Google maps API, and there’s more than one Greenwood in Australia. Likewise, there’s more than one Mount Pleasant. So what was happening was that the search would find the first Greenwood, which was invariably not in WA. But our users, coming to the website of the Uniting Church in Western Australia would assume that the activity search would search WA first. Having it search other states is completely useless to us, but there seemed to be no setting in the plugin that we were using to set it to only search WA.

Knowing that if you added “WA” to the end of the search it worked correctly, the simplest way I could think of to solve the issue was to append “, WA” to every search that didn’t end in “WA”. Now, while I work on the website, I’ve had no formal training. I taught myself HTML and CSS, and working with WordPress has taught me a bit of PHP, but in terms of coding something like this I needed to know JavaScript. I had a search around the internet to see if someone had a similar problem, or a solution that would work. I think my first effort ended up breaking the search completely. I talked to a friend who actually codes websites for a living, and he came up with some code that he thought would work, but wasn’t certain. It didn’t quite work, so I posted it in a forum and asked for help. They helped me out by pointing out the errors (needed a capital letter instead of a lowercase letter, and a ‘ instead of a “).

So now, if you search for “Greenwood” you will receive results for “Greenwood, WA” and find the details of the Greenwood Uniting Church. All I needed was for someone to discover why it was doing what it was doing, and my A-Ha moment came as to how to fix it.

Postaday2011 links

New design

Regulars will notice that I have another new blog design for my site. This is due to my previous hosting arrangements coming to an end and me being required to find new hosting. In the end I decided to go with wordpress.com, as I’ve always used wordpress blogs, and it is far cheaper and more reliable than anything else on the market.

I haven’t decided to go with the custom css package atm, so am stuck with the themes available – but they seem really good, and a lot less work for me. So it’s all good :)

Design might change over the next little while as I figure out what’s best for this site, and what direction I’m going to take it in. But for the mean time, enjoy.

Oops…a new site

Wow, I’ve finally updated this site. A brand new design, and a new format. Figured it was time for a change. I used to host this site off my own server, but it got to be too much of a hassel, so I decided to move it onto a different server – this means that it will be available more often. Just don’t suddenly make it incredibly popular, as I’ve got limited bandwidth.

Unfortunately, in the process of moving, I’ve lost all of my posts that had been made. I’ve still got them on my home server, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting them moved across easily. I’ll go through them and find any posts that are worth saving and put them back up, but more than likely a lot will get lost (probably for the better).