Using the (New) CA Website
The CA Has a New Website
Way back in 1997, when the World Wide Web had just become worthy of the name, Bill Arliss created the CA website, and you could be forgiven for saying "even though it didn't want one"! The few original pages grew steadily to a few tens and we adopted a new design using frames where main headings across the top and sub-headings down the side allowed navigation to and within sections of the site. That style of operation fell out of favour with web developers and was increasingly difficult to use. Finding what you wanted became challenging as the number of pages grew to several hundred information pages, and hundreds more coming from databases to support tournament details and entries, member and club contact information, and many more pages again for news items, results, Gazettes and informative articles, and, and, and. The biggest problem right from the early days has remained throughout the site's history: keeping the information current and correct.
Please give feedback about your new website, especially to report any problems or difficulties you encounter, or suggestions for improvement - there's a link to email the webmaster at the bottom of each page, or log specific page issues on that page. The technology behind the website is all new so teething troubles are expected - the sooner you report them the sooner they can be fixed!
Keeping it Current
The new site uses technology to assist in keeping pages current by identifying each page as owned by one of the CA's committees and recording when a member of that committee has most recently approved or updated the page. This is shown most clearly in the site map -the two columns are revealed by using configure display to show then. When owning committee members view any of their pages that has not been reviewed in the previous 18 months, they are invited to approve it as up to date, or mark it as needing a refresh (or, of course, pass the buck to another committee!). Page owners can view a list of their pages, with those marked for review highlighted (via the site search page). Appointed committee members can edit their own pages.
Logged-in readers are invited to report that a page needs additional information or an update (using the feedback link at the foot of the page), and then the page owners can review, action and respond to those suggestions.
Raising such a comment marks the page as needing revision.
Using the Site Menu
The most obvious visual difference is also what makes the site easier to navigate: the entire site menu is now on the left-hand side of the screen. A little arrow to the right of each menu item shows it has sub-items. These sub-items pop out as the mouse runs over them. Move the mouse into a popped-up area to select from the sub-items, thus navigating to increasingly focussed detail. Alternatively, just click on the menu item and browse successively down to the detail you want - this is often the best way if you find the pop-out menus too fiddly (and especially on a mobile device, though we do plan a mobile version). If you select a link to another page from within a page, the menu will show you exactly where you are, and the surrounding pages. Not every page is visible in the menu, but the main ones are.
If the pop-out menu goes off the bottom of the screen, either scroll down the page and try again, or just click on the heading in the menu and continue browsing below it. If the menu is in the way of your view, hide it by clicking on the tiny arrows up near the CA logo. Hiding the menu reveals a tiny arrow pointing the opposite way to bring it back - or just refresh the page. Not only is the website's predominant colour green, but none of the navigation panels are printed with the page content, saving those valuable trees (not to mention printer ink).
The menu system makes finding information easier also because pages can sit in more than one place - over time the logic of it all should clarify. Whichever route you take, it's the same page so there's no additional maintenance to providing access where users expect it. Adding a link to a page from within other pages, or giving a page residence in an additional place is simple for the page owner to complete. At the top of each page is a breadcrumb trail showing the menu selection needed to get to that page - you can click on the higher levels in the trail to navigate up the tree. All the applications you've grown to love, such as the tournaments listing, online entry and CA Directory work exactly as they did before, but now are easier to find. The new menu system is structured so that re-styling is very straightforward. Feedback and ideas from users will no doubt encourage us to make major improvements to it.
Finding What You Want
Each page is visible only to particular categories of visitors, though most are public - login to see more. This security feature places some information out of the reach of search engines, such as Google. Consequently, the site has its own rudimentary search facility, accessible off the home page menu.
You can also explore the site through the site map - a file-system-like visualisation of all pages accessible to you. Log-on first, and if you're a Council or committee member don't forget to enable your privileges, and then click on the folder icons to show and hide the detail below them - or hide/show all with the controls at the bottom of the screen. Just click on a page title to view its contents. At the top of the screen, inside twisties (little orange triangles that when clicked reveal or hide more information or controls), you can choose to show more detail, such as owner committee or last validation date. Most of these settings are remembered between visits to the page - click the reset configuration button to revert to default settings. As with most tabular views, click on a column heading to sort by that column (though here it makes sense only if you hide the tree icons). You can focus the view at any folder by clicking on the tree icon next to that folder - the same icon appears at the foot of each page and takes you to that page alongside its siblings in the site map.
Linking to Pages
All pages are now accessed using the notation croquet.org.uk/?p=<page> which is how we've been asking people to link to the site for a long time so we hope there are no major changes for other webmasters - Oxford Croquet has already confirmed no issues. The browser's address bar contents can be saved as a favourite or emailed to someone, safe in the knowledge that it uniquely identifies the page you are looking at.
As each page is edited, its content is kept consistent with the site's general look, even though dozens of different people may edit them. Anyone who can use a word processor has the skills to edit a page online, and the system makes it as easy as it can be with a safe environment where the user can concentrate on the content and not the technology. Broken links are a thing of the past because it's not possible to publish a revised page until all its links are resolved - and if a page is moved or deleted, all the pages referencing it are updated to suit. Before publishing a page, the owner sees a direct comparison with earlier versions. Reverting to an earlier version is easy too if a mistake is found. Photos can be uploaded, resized and incorporated into the edited page in a variety of ways.
Each page is owned by a committee and every member of that committee has rights to review and record their comments. Individuals can be granted rights as a page editor, which allows them to edit any of the pages that their committee memberships give them rights over.
Information About Pages, their History and Comments
Information about, and older versions of, a page can be seen and compared by following the page information link at the foot of each page. This references view shows all the pages (news items, etc.) that link to that page and all the links from that page to elsewhere. This page also shows the comments people have made about it.
Publishing a page updates automatically the "what's new" list (on the search page), which will be more useful later (because a lot of pages have been recently edited just to get the site into a good state for launch).