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Monday, April 24th, 2017 05:13 pm
I run two one-place studies, researching specific parishes and their inhabitants in the past. I've had hand coded websites for them for years, but they're very simplistic, old-fashioned looking, and becoming cumbersome for users to read and navigate. So I've had at the back of mind for a while the wish to revamp both sites. But I was deterred by the thought of building new websites from scratch.

But on Saturday night, about midnight, I suddenly had a revelation. I already had WordPress blogs, for a number of different purposes. And I remembered that people build WordPress sites, relatively easily, including for one-place studies. It wouldn't be that hard to do would it?

Within an hour I had proto sites up and running for my two one-place studies, and within 5 hours I had fully transferred all the old resources into them, and filled them out. This included moving the existing blogs into there, but also all the transcripts and indexes of historical records.

I found it remarkably quick and easy to do, and I like the simple design, and look of the sites. It's certainly a lot better than anything I could have hand coded, without much fresh education. I've had HTML skills for over 20 years, but they are incredibly rudimentary. This end result is vastly better. At the moment the sites are hosted on WordPress.com, with dedicated domain names, but I may move them in future. But the priority was to build the content, and not come up with more obstacles to put me off.

The only slightly tricky thing I ran into was importing the tables for some of the lengthy transcripts/indexes, because WordPress (at least the .com version) doesn't provide any nice plugin or similar to handle those. So you have to fall back on HTML coding for them. But I'm ok with that, and the tables I was importing were existing HTML files ... That was a big "Eureka!" moment this morning when I worked that out, and how easy it would make it. The HTML tables just needed a bit of cleaning up, and they were good to go. It wouldn't be so easy for anyone who doesn't know any HTML for tables, but I was ok. There are also some great online tips for how to do this in WordPress.com, for example on this page.

Both sites are a work in progress, both will have new resources added to them. But I'm very pleased with how they are now, and should be encouraged to add more content in future.

Feedback on the new sites would be very welcome. Find them here: Melrose and Coldingham.

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