What's New with the Website
This page includes additions, corrections, and changes to our website in reverse chronological order. The bottom of the page (the beginning) gives some basic information about where we started and why we needed to build a new website.
Genealogical and historical societies often struggle with finding enough volunteers for all their projects, and finding a volunteer or team of volunteers that are able to build and maintain a website is even more of a challenge. I hope that some of the information contained here will help others as they try to build a website for their organization.
Jo Roth (Genealogist, WCGS Volunteer, and Webmaster)
25 Jun 2022
The Cemetery Restoration Workshops page was one of the first pages created for our new website. The original layout listed the workshops and associated links using a table. But the tables available to use with Wix are not ideal. As we neared our first anniversary of the new website going live, it was high on the list for a makeover.
The first attempt failed miserably. I was hoping to add several sections with our publications for sale and have just the publications associated with that particular workshop on that strip of the page. As this will be our 10th Cemetery Restoration Workshop, it made for too many of these to allow the page to load easily and quickly.
The second attempt was better. Just one Shop and Support section was added to the page with only the cemetery-related publications listed. Distinct sections show information and links for each workshop, listed down the page in reverse chronological order.
15 May 2022
Time for a major overhaul! Feedback from users of the website indicated that improvements could be made. Anybody who has ever created a website knows it is never truly finished. The most requested feature was to somehow make it easier to FIND everything. So we are trying a new layout! Just in time for our 41st Anniversary on 20 May 2022, the revamped website is being launched today with the following changes and additions:
Home Page - reconfigured with Quick Links galore!
Header - updated with a Home icon, new shopping cart image, and streamlined a bit
EasyNav page integrated with NEW Research Online page
NEW PAGE - Bible Records (includes Index last updated 3 Sep 2015)
NEW PAGE - Obituaries (includes massive alphabetical Index last updated 5 May 2022)
NEW PAGE - Heir Lines Indexes (includes Every Name Index last updated 17 Oct 2017 - other indexes coming soon!)
NEW PAGE - Surnames (includes Index last updated 18 Feb 2022)
11 Dec 2021
Added a Wix Countdown Clock to our 40th Anniversary Special on the Home page. Nice feature that can be customized.
17 Nov 2021
Added the AmazonSmile widget to the Home page, Donation Policy page, and on our Facebook Group. Gave it a bit of a holiday theme for now, with the plans to change that at the end of December.
2 Dec 2021
In honor of our 40th Anniversary (WCGS started in 1981), we decided to run a membership special of two years for $15. We also condensed our two membership levels, single and family, into one. Steps involved:
Created a new graphic for each of the store items to be added (New and Renew)
Uploaded the graphics to the Media folder
Copied and edited a New Membership and Renew Membership for sale
These are on the store page as digital products, with a welcome letter attached that is delivered when a purchase is made. This seems to be a good work-around to avoid shipping fees we have established for physical products. Unfortunately, digital items do NOT include full address information on the invoice (we get this through the Online Membership Application). Hopeful that Wix will correct this in the future so we don't have to look in two places for it.
Added the new media items to each of the new products
Hid the New Membership and Renew Membership items that did not show the special
When the membership special ends on December 31, these two items will be hidden and the New Membership and Renew Membership items without the special pricing will be shown again. Doing this is as simple as clicking an eyeball button!
23 Jul 2021
Changed the Online Membership Application to allow for the use of the <Tab> key when moving between most fields. Although the look of the previous one was more condensed, using the <Tab> key moved the cursor up and down through the fields rather than left to right and then down to the next row.
One of the more frustrating aspects of using Wix for a genealogical society website was that it is more geared toward commerce and the social side of membership. Through trial and error, it was discovered that using Subscriptions for our membership would not work because there is no easy or affordable way to adjust the end date. Our memberships all end December 31, no matter when they start during the year, but Wix Subscriptions, which might have been a good way to do this, simply would not work for us.
It was also frustrating that we added all our current members as Contacts with the thought that we could assign a temporary password, email the information, and let the members log in and change the password to something they would like. Unfortunately, Wix is not set up to allow for this OR to allow for manual connection if someone should sign up who happened to already be in our Contact List. Wasted a good deal of time trying to get this to work. We really had hopes of managing our membership through the website, but everything happens for a reason, and in the end, it's probably better that we are not doing this.
Finally, we made our memberships an item in our Store (Shop and Support) page, and to get all the moving parts of this to work correctly, made it a Digital Item. We simply attached our Membership Application to the store items for now, although we may change that in the future.
We created an Online Membership Application and eliminated the fields for a password and login, but that proved problematic. We were hoping to just have a password-protected page for the member-only content, but in the end, our members use their email address as their login and create their own password.
When a current member submits an Online Membership Application, we manually approve them to be Site Members and an automated email is sent. They simply login to access member-only pages. The same applies for a new member, allowing us to check for payment before approving them as Site Members. So far, it seems to be working, although like anything where you have new procedures, it takes a bit to get the different parts coordinated.
Added TinyCat to the Resource Library page to allow online searches of our library holdings. What an amazing feature! The WCGS Resource Library had been using LibraryThing to catalog their holdings. TinyCat takes LibraryThing entries and makes them a searchable catalog for small libraries. Their fee is based on the number of items in your library. This is absolutely one of my favorite features and as the volunteers continue to update LibraryThing with titles and images, it is immediately reflected online. No extra work on the website side of things! Check it out: https://www.librarycat.org/lib/warrenco
25 May 2021
Added PayPal Donation button to Donation Policy page. PayPal charges a lower rate to verified nonprofit organizations and even has a way for people to donate where it charges no fees. Easy to use for payments to our organization and people paying through it DO NOT have to be a PayPal member. Win-win.
21 May 2021
Used Google Sheets for lists on our Lineage Society Pages. The Google Sheets can be updated and the changes will be reflected on our website. Love this!
An example can be found here:
Some Starting Information
Our old website has been a wonderful resource for so many for so long and we recognize the need to keep that information online. Unfortunately, there is no longer a way to easily access it and keep it current, and it cannot be upgraded to do the many things that people now do online (like purchase books and pay dues). We consider ourselves very lucky to still be able to view the pages on the old site.
In the fall of 2019, the decision was made to pursue building a website with EasyNetSites (ENS), a company that many other genealogical societies were using. The shell of the website was constructed, content was being added, and staff members were being trained on how to manage the website. Then COVID-19 happened and progress stopped. In early 2021 ENS announced they were closing and then that they were being purchased. Those who had websites already up and running were able to continue, but those who were in the process of building a site ran into problems. While completely understandable that the buyer (Blue Crab Software) would face some hurdles taking on existing clients and problems, it soon became clear that our under-construction website was going nowhere.
After a great deal of research and consideration, Wix seemed to be a good fit for our needs. A Business Unlimited plan was purchased in mid-May 2021 and we started building. Fast forward six weeks and our new Wix website was ready to test drive. On June 29, 2021, our new website went live with our original domain name:
We had purchased an additional domain from Namecheap.com and pointed it to our old website with the hope that we could park our old site there and keep it up forever.
Unfortunately, we later found that by moving the entire website to the new domain, ALL the links were then broken and NOTHING could be accessed except the home page. So the pages would all work, but the links on each page (and there are many) would not and we had no way to correct those links. Time for Plan B.
We purchased an additional domain and pointed our new website there:
Not ideal, especially since we had just created several Gmail accounts based on WCGSOH. Of course, even with all the testing done prior to publishing the site, we found a number of things that did not work as planned or needed to be changed a bit. More about that in later posts (found above). So while it may not have the domain we originally planned for it, it is up and running! Yay!