Nearly 20 years since original Winsham Web Museum site was released, technology has come a long way and it was time for an upgrade. After many years of work and dedication from John Sullivan, the museum was passed to the Parish Council to safeguard. The site needed a bit of polishing to make it manageable by multiple people.
Bethany Fowler was responsible for the redesign to make the site more usable, especially on mobile devices.
Bethany Fowler - January 2021
It is now some fourteen years since the Winsham Web Museum made its first appearance, projected onto a wall of the Jubilee Hall, Winsham, as part of its launch ceremony.
Since then it has undergone three major updates, including the one just completed. When ever these were done, I explained the reasons, and some may find them interesting to read-they follow this explanation for the most recent changes. They give an account of how the Internet 'explosion' - the defining event in world history for the first part of the 21st Century, influenced the development of how a small village in rural Somerset recorded its own history, and even influenced day-to-day communication within the parish, certainly for those under the age of, say, seventy!
The main reason for updating at the beginning of 2016 was the need to accommodate the needs of the 'Winsham on the Web' concept, by enabling closer integration with Winsham's growing involvement with the Social Media, and the new Parish Council Web site.
We have also needed to recognise that many of our visitors were reaching the web museum via Smart Phones and Tablets. This has created the need to make navigation in some of the more complex galleries easier, and some of the pages easier to read and quicker to load. Broadband had encouraged web designers and managers to use larger files-now it is becoming necessary to retrace ones steps, and think 'small' to accommodate the smaller screens associated with Smart Phones, etc. One can go only go so far in this, but one needs to bear the problem in mind. As a result the layout of some of the main galleries have been changed, and some of the web pages simplified and their content spread across several web pages. Hopefully the result for all types of users will be recognised as an improvement.
John Sullivan - January 2016
Ten years have passed since the Winsham Web Museum was launched in the early summer of 2002. It has proved to be a successful venture, attracting a steady flow of visitors, totalling now into thousands.
It has received numerous favourable comments, and it has also been archived by the British Library, ensuring that it will be able to be seen by future generations for many, many years ahead, regardless of the technical changes that will undoubted be experienced by the World Wide Web.
Major updates to the method of presentation took place in 2009, introducing the idea of ‘photo browsing’ which proved to be very popular. This was in response to the benefits offered by Broadband, which was virtually unheard of in 2002, certainly in rural locations such as Winsham.
This new edition introduces a parallel option for navigation within the site, using site maps as a method of identifying and accessing those parts of the Museum that are of special interest to visitors, and facilitating the revisiting of parts of the site that were of particular interest. It is easy to use, and there are easy to follow instructions.
Running alongside this is the traditional browsing method used since 2009. It is easy to switch between the two methods at any time.
Adding the new navigation system also provided the opportunity to introduce new content, and update existing material. The museum has always favoured pictorial display where possible, and the benefits of digital photography have enabled the number and quality of pictures of more recent events to be increased and improved. New software has also facilitated improvements in presentation of both text and illustrations.
John Sullivan - February 2012
It is seven years since the Winsham Web Museum was launched. It was designed and set up by Bob Osborn –a professional Web Designer who was very helpful to us-described more fully in the ‘How it started ‘section. After a couple of years Bob had to relinquish the task of maintaining the site. Faced with this problem the museum’s management committee decided that the only solution possible was to do it themselves. I volunteered to undertake the training at Yeovil College-where Bob Osborn was teaching the course - and eventually emerged with a Grade 3 City & Guilds Certificate in Web Design.
The knowledge gained was essential, but just the start of a long learning process which could only be fulfilled by on-the-job experience, and the result of this less than expert site servicing has been, as years went by, that the museum became very 'ragged around the edges'! Even by the time the first edition was finally removed from the Server, there were parts that I never dared to explore or fully understood how they worked!
The Web Museum site had become large and complex by many standards. The 'Second Edition' now occupies some 320Mb of server space, with 800 web pages, including 300 .pdf files, 2,000 pictures and about five thousand hyperlinks. And no two pages are exactly the same format, so each is individually constructed. This is considerably larger than the first edition, which in 2002 was 80Mb in size.
Links were ceasing to work properly. The Java Applet Menu system that delighted us to begin with, in the manner in which it collapsed and expanded as the mouse pointer passed over it, began to develop problems that were beyond my understanding to fix. We were also using a ‘Frames’ system in various parts of the site which caused problems by preventing direct links from outside sources, such as the Winsham Parish Web site and the weekly Winsham e-letter, to individual web pages within the web museum.
The site was also beginning to look distinctly old fashioned. Nothing wrong with that you may feel, especially for a museum site! But the reality is that Broadband makes a considerable difference to the manner in which Web sites work, what they can contain, and how they are viewed . In Winsham , some 85% of on-line households have Broadband. About 70% of all households are on line.
Broadband , to a large degree releases the web designer from the tyranny of small picture files, as pictures now load quickly. Gone is the interminable wait while a large picture file gradually assembles itself. This greatly changes the approach to the design of web pages, allowing much greater use of pictures. This problem has also been greatly helped by the much faster and more powerful computers that so many of us now have. In the 'back office' new software is also taking some of the chores out web site building. This site is put together using Microsoft Expressions Web2 which I have had to learn to use, but has proved to be well worth the effort. Three cheers for Bill Gates!
Broadband and flat screen technology has also encouraged the development of inexpensive larger monitors with high levels of resolution. These are now in general use. Web pages depend on the ‘resolution’ of the viewers individual monitor and computer settings for their appearance, so the original Museum Web pages that were originally designed for viewing at 800 x600 pixels (the first edition specification) were looking a bit odd when viewed at higher resolutions.
Part of this regeneration has also involved adding a great deal of new material, and improving the presentation and accessibility of existing information-pictures and text. Work still remains to be done in this area, and will be carried out on an on-going basis.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoy the ‘Second Edition’. It has taken hundreds of hours of work, during which I have sought the advice and encouragement of numerous people in the village, especially on matters of information , appearance and access, for which I thank them. This will not be the last time that the Web Museum will need to be re-generated, but it will need younger people to do it. I am very keen to find someone who will take over the management of the site sometime in the future , to ensure that this fascinating history of Winsham passes intact onto future generations.
John Sullivan - May 2009