This site was built in Joomla 3.x. We use the Gantry Framework as it is versatile, well supported and stable. The site has was built in-house by Hans Moor (@HansontheBike) from scratch partly using our own content from the previous site.
What is new?
We moved from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 3.x, a more stable and a more user friendly version in the back end. We were warned that upgrading from Joomla 1.5 to 3.2 was a major exercise, so we decided to build it from scratch again, to avoid any legacy issues for the next years.
Our website is now what is called 'responsive'. It automatically adjusts to mobile devices and other smaller screens, so you won't see a web site design for a 15" screen compressed to a 3" screen. Our web site automatically reorganises our content for your tablets and smart phones, which is great if you read a lot on your mobile devices. Designing one site for both large and small screens definitely has its own challenges, but we won't bore you with that.
Better design for touch screens
you expect to read short and to-the-point information on your mobile device. Large pieces of text are harder to read on mobile devices anyway. So we tried to put our message in a few lines and allow people to click through to the remainder of the text with the 'Read More...' buttons.
'Most read content' easier to find
We shuffled the content around somewhat, so that everything you were most interested in the last five years is easier to find. When our volunteers built the first site in 2010, we didn't know what you would like to read, but based on aggregated stats in Piwik, we have a better idea of what you find most interesting. We concentrated the menu on the top around what you searched for most, articles of interest and current topics in the body, accompanied with images and organisational material at the bottom.
A new URL
Safecycling.ca is here to stay, but unfortunately it doesn't say anything about where we are from. That is not good for our branding. It could be Ottawa or any other Canadian place that promotes safe cycling. We gave it some thought and decided that Bikeottawa.ca is a URL that reflects better that we are from Ottawa. Our legal name remains Citizens for Safe Cycling, of course, since we can be proud of what CfSC has accomplished in the last 30 years. However, we are now calling ourselves Bike Ottawa, and we should wave our Ottawa banner a bit more. The more people who recognise Ottawa as a cycling city, the better.
Got rid of articles that you thought weren't interesting
Over time, a website's database gets cluttered with old articles and photos so this was a good reason to clean up the content and remove the content that you haven't shown much interest in over the last five years. We also created even better discipline in the backend with our folder structure, so that it is easier to purge stuff when it gets outdated.
We don't sell much, just T-shirts, but there is a web shop built in now.
We are using Twitter and Facebook, albeit modestly. We want to give readers a chance to share our articles, safety tips, winter bike info etc with others easier. You'll find buttons underneath the articles and in the top right of this page icon that link to our social media.
We are still a bit ambivalent towards comments, as sometimes the comments are out of control, fed by trolls and spambots. Research showed that the trolls tend to be dark psychpathic personalities who enjoy creating anger (liberally summarised from a CBC discussion). We trust you don't want to be labelled as such. We tried comments for a while, but it is hardly being used.
We moved providers
We were running our own Ubuntu Operating System remotely on a server in Toronto. The advantage is that you have tight control over it, the disadvantage is that only a few people can maintain it (or have a desire to do so in their spare time). The current provider maintains the OS, so that we can concentrate on cycling instead of IT. As a volunteer organisation, we want to make sure that Citizens for Safe Cycling doesn't depend on a few people, so the easier we make our life as volunteers, the more successful we will be in attracting and keeping volunteers.
What is Joomla?
If you have never worked with Joomla, here is a two paragraph explanation: Joomla is open source software content management software, built and maintained by a large international community. You don't need to be a software developer or a coder to get started. It is important to understand that the site uses a template and a database. All your content is stored and organised in a database, while you template organises how you want your content displayed.
If you ever want to work with Joomla yourself, check out some Youtube clips and search through some websites. It is overwhelming at first, but just remember that all your content is organised in articles. Articles in turn are organised in Categories. Modules in turn tell Articles or Categories where they should appear in your template in your website. So what looks like a web page to you is actually a collection of modules, that show the articles from your database in a predefined place in the template.
Extra extensions, plugins etc:.
We installed some extra components, plugins and modules, that didn't come with the standard Joomla package:
Image slider: DJ-Extensions
Membership Form: OSSolutions
Social Buttons (the ones in the top right):Social presence
Social buttons (the ones underneath our articles): Elite
Comments for underneath some of the articles: JComments
Web shop: Hikashop
All images are owned by Bike Ottawa. Use our images liberally, but only if you also mention the source and ideally link to our homepage www.bikeottawa.ca. If you notice a wrong credit to a photo or screen grab, let us know. Pictures come from many directions to us, and we can't always verify the source unfortunately.