Website relaunched

The Society has had a website for about 16 years. It has grown from being a simple advertisement to being the main way for many members to interact with the Society. You may be surprised to learn that it receives around 3,000 visits per week.  Visitors use it to find out what’s on, the read the various information features, to buy from the Shop, to read the Railway Observer – there’s a lot in there.

The style of websites has changed in recent years, with people increasingly accessing them on hand-held devices, such as tablets and phones, using their fingers to move around.  Our 16-year-old setup was difficult to maintain so it was felt that the website would benefit from a rebuild, to reflect how people use websites nowadays – and to show off our wonderful photos better.

Pages on the new website are often much longer. It is easier to keep scrolling than having to follow lots of links.  There are simple menus and big buttons.  The aim is to be no more than two clicks from any piece of information.

There is a new Event Calendar.  The main calendar on the front page provides an overview, but most members will want to look at the calendar on their branch page or the calendar of virtual events on the front page.

The Members’ Area requires a log in, as before.  Your existing accounts and passwords should still work.  Enter either your email address or membership number as the username when asked.  The Lost Password procedure might be useful.  A few members’ email addresses have been changed to come into line with their membership records.

The whole of the legacy website (almost) has been migrated but not every page has had individual attention.  The layouts may not be ideal in some cases but that can be addressed over time.  The Forum and Mystery Photographs have not been migrated whilst we consider alternative options.

For the technically minded, the website is built using WordPress, a widely used website software package with an ecosystem of skilled developers available. That is important for reducing the Society’s dependence on key individuals. Almost all custom programming code has been eliminated by using off-the-shelf plug-ins, some free, some paid-for. We use a page layout tool called Beaver Builder to avoid writing ANY code.

The website was built by our webmaster Matthew Shaw.  Building websites is now less of a programmer’s job, more of visual designer’s job. There are many opportunities for members to help out and learn new skills.  Please contact webmaster@rcts.org.uk.

We hope that the new website will be a good foundation to add new services from 2022 onwards, and there are several projects already taking shape. Feedback is always welcome. The beauty of web technology is that errors can be fixed and enhancements made quickly.