This article shares some technical details behind the SFAA Web site. If you’re interested, read on! Otherwise, move along, there is nothing of interest here!
Back in February 2009, I offered to take over interim webmaster duties for the Strong Family Association of America. That offer was accepted. I also offered to donate use of my commercial web server (hosted by m3server.com who I’ve used for more than a decade) as a cost savings to the Association, and that offer was also accepted. As with the previous paid hosting arrangement, there’s a lot of horsepower behind this Web site!
At the same time I took over webmaster duties, I had been considering moving to the Joomla! Content Management System for several of our Web sites. I chose Joomla because someone has integrated the Genealogy software I use, with Joomla.
Sad to say, Joomla proved to be an unfortunate decision. Joomla is not easy to learn, even with good books available. After working with it for quite a few weeks, I could see the potential, but realized this is not the best answer for SFAA. Burying the Web site in a difficult-to-learn Content Management System would be a terribly unreasonable burden to place on the next webmaster.
By contrast, the previous hosting arrangement used a perfectly reasonable and intuitive site builder. Moving the material to my own server was quite simple and straight-forward.
So… months later… I threw away all the time invested in Joomla! It’s not what we need, and it’s not sufficiently usable for my other web sites either. The learning experience served me well on several fronts. But it sure did suck up a lot of time in the process!
WordPress, on the other hand, is a “blogging” system which actually works fairly well as a Content Management System. That is, it does work fairly well for what we need for the Strong Family Association of America. I’ve been using WordPress for years, and so have a whole lot of other people.
It is quite likely that the next webmaster, whoever he or she might be, will already be familiar with WordPress, or can quickly become familiar.
The WordPress version of this site is now open (you’re looking at it right now). It’s not complete, but I expect to finish out the details over the next week or so.
What We Gain
Why bother changing things at all? What we gain is involvement and interactivity. Directors and authorized members can add articles to the site. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Word or do any blogging on your own, you’ll probably find this site very simple to use.
We also gain room to expand. We can add a forum area, photo galleries, etc. as we discover the need.
On our other Web sites, we use The Next Generation to display the genealogy information. It’s one of the best methods available for displaying our knowledge in a way that’s useful to other people learning or researching. I’ve slowly been typing up the Elder John Strong ancestry information. I’ve done about 700 individuals, but have a lot of typing to go!
- The genealogy section and main site are not yet color-coordinated.
- The directors-only section is not yet up.
- The photo albums are not yet up.
- The “contact us” page is not live.
- I have some tweaking and color changes needed to spruce things back up.
- I need to verify the site sign-up process, so I can invite Directors to sign up; then I can give them posting privileges and instructions.
I’ve left a link to the old (February 2009) site at the bottom of the front page, until everything is in place on the new site.