Sunday, 15 May 2011

2011 - Website 01: Website Revamp Phase 1

I am pleased to announce that Phase One of the Stourbridge Bus Information website revamp has been completed, the SBI Timetables section of SBI is now online - 

Unlike any website revamps that have taken place over the years, this one has been more involved as, just after the new year, I decided that the whole website needed a much needed revamp, this also included the management system, which is how the website gets updated. Past revamps have not included the management system, so the redesigns did not take that long. This time the management system has been involved and it also meant that as I was doing this, I would effectively start the website from scratch and also updated the database structures that the website information is stored, this also meant that I could learn new ways of asp coding, which has also / will make the updating of the whole website when finished easier to update and maintain.

When I set the task of revamping, I said to myself that I wouldn't rush to get it completed, and I have stuck to this clause, it has meant that I have learnt new ways to write pages and in effect, it has meant that my updating has / will become easier as working on a new management system, I can now update things differently and instead of updating three different options at a time, all three now update at the same time. I have managed to update the actual content, when I click submit, code is taking place so that the "Last Updated" section on the main front page will automatically update itself, rather than myself having to go into a few tasks at a time like I have in the past, one click will now do three jobs.

I have also learnt new code whilst creating web pages for the website, ones that you the visitors will see. I have learnt a new way to display the site information, which has also meant that I can include html in my database which will enable new ways of getting information across to the end user and have more flexibility in information functions on the website.

It feels that I am working backwards when I started to redesign the websites of SBI, with phase one being the SBI Timetables section. I really wanted to get rid of the old website as I wasn't happy with the layout, and patience has paid off, I am happy with the way the website looks, it doesn't look messy, which even though I created it myself, the old timetables section did look messy. I may make a couple of minor tweaks over the coming weeks to ensure that I am happy with the way it looks / works, but I'm glad I started with this section first. The patience has paid off and it is unbelievable how it is now, the way it works is completely different to the way the old SBI timetables used to work!

Really this is phase one A, because when I first designed the website layout, I quickly diverted and made the changes to the layout (the best I could) of the blog, so really you should be used to the new layout of the website!

With the new layout, I have increased the size of the page, looking at statistics on the old website, the old 800 by 600 size visitors viewed was decreasing and I have now expanded the page size to 1024 x 768, which seems to be the new least size screen width that many people are looking at nowadays, this being the advent of new LCD monitors, which means that I haven't got to squeeze the information into a small space as I did with previous designs.

I will carry this into phase two, the main part of Stourbridge Bus Information. I am still going to take my time when redesigning the website, even though I do want to get rid of the current SBI website now that I have released SBI Timetables. This is why over the coming months, work will take place with the management system and data and then I can work on the front pages that visitors see. Instead of trying to rush and perhaps make mistakes trying to get the website up and running quickly, I have decided and made the decision that I will use phase two and and gradually make sections available bits at a time, for example, Street search, get the back end complete and then the visitors pages and release it onto the world wide web, then followed by the links section, and so on. It may make the website look strange with two different layouts in the coming months, but the end product will look better once complete.

Please accept my apologies whilst the revamp takes place and you may jump from one layout to another, the old layout to the new layout, but I think this needs to happen to make the website better. In the long run, new sections will appear gradually, but at the end of the day the website will look fresher and be better in presentation and how the data reaches you once the website is complete.

A new way of contacting myself is now available, a "contact form" is available on the website. I don't want to stop you emailing me directly, if you have my email address it can still be used to get in touch, but the amount of spam I receive due to my email address being available on the world wide web is unbelievable, and this is one of the ways of stopping that spam, through a contact form. I can now link this option to the current website, so perhaps my dream of not receiving spam is closer. You can try the form out now to let me know what you think of the new website sections when they become available, and perhaps send me suggestions for the website.

So here goes, phase one is complete, and now to start phase two, the main website. Once this is complete, phase three will start and see me revamp the SBI Past section. It doesn't end there, and I can not rest so easily, due to Fotopic ceasing trading a couple of months ago, the website work will carry on, as I will start a new phase, previously unplanned, phase four, and find a new way of getting my pictures on-line, but lets not runaway just yet, lets get the main websites up and running first. I will have a few days break before starting phase two, I am exhausted with how my spare time has decreased due to website work taking place, and I will use the next few days to refresh my batteries and reignite the spark of writing asp code.

Please bear with me over the coming months, whilst the revamps take place, but once finished it will hopefully be better for my visitors - sorry can't stop and chat all day, I have work to do (albeit a few days grace!) ......

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