We know some of you are not going to like us, and some of you will even hate us, but please hear us out on where things stand because we are only as successful as you, our members make this club.
As the Ulysses Club has grown and developed over the years, we’ve not always been able to keep up with technology and offer our members features or easy management which are offered to many website owners these days.
It was not such a big job when we had only a few branches, but with the growth of membership over the last few years, along with mobile phones, laptops, iPads and other technology, we have seen many branches want to have a great looking website and a lot more ‘online activity’.
Originally FTP (File Transfer Protocol) was considered the best option but it meant that website development was left to more technical people. One problem has been that only a few branches have access to good web developers who know how to make their sites look great. Some branches have struggled because they see other branches with active websites, and are unable to create the same atmosphere without spending a lot of money.
Originally, we were not in a position to offer our branches the ability to manage their websites easily and securely. Many branch sites are entwined with the National site, making it extremely difficult to manage, backup and secure properly.
After many meetings and discussions late last year and early this year, it became obvious that at some point we would need to start with a clean slate. In deciding to provide members a new website for the Club and Branches we looked at the big picture and what is the best outcome for the majority of members. The way the Ulysses Club Website has evolved has seen many band aid solutions which have contributed to the problems we now have, one of which is FTP Sites. When looking at the whole Club website picture we started from scratch with new developers and fresh ideas.
That gave us the chance to create a website structure that would be helpful for the branches and keep them separate from the main website. We had to change the branches to be on their own domain name, and have some sort of consistency that identifies them as being branches of the Ulysses club.
This means that for the branch sites, we can focus on things related to branch management, and put in features that help raise the profile of the branch sites and be confident they are secure at all times.
We explored the possibility of just ‘upgrading’ what we had, but, the cost and overall result would have been a bad investment as there were so many problems to start with.
We started by upgrading the membership management system to be more mobile and we have successfully done that. It’s a very positive move for members and the staff who manage it.
We then looked at how the current websites were working. Some have a terrific amount of content and we’re grateful for members being so dedicated in providing this for their branches. It has helped raise the profile of Ulysses which we would not be able to do without your support. But we saw other websites which struggled and were not updated, mostly because people didn’t know how which is nobody’s fault because we’re not all technical gurus. We felt it was our responsibility to come up with a better solution that gave all members the opportunity to participate as we are all under the banner of the Ulysses Club.
We wanted to raise the profile of the Ulysses Club and this meant we needed to create some clear guidelines to follow, and that included how our Club was portrayed online. We don’t want control of the sites, but we do want them to look like they belong to the Ulysses Club. We’re very proud of our heritage and what we stand for but often, many of the sites are hard to identify as being a branch of the Club.
We also wanted to provide a more unified image which helped Ulysses be recognised at every level and wanted to make sure the smaller struggling branches had help in raising their profile.
We have worked very hard with experts in the field of ‘site management’ to come up with something that is easy to manage for non-technical people, and for those who are more experienced, we want to make sure your new websites meet your expectations.
- Here’s what we’ve taken on board and done to make the new Ulysses site more unified and easier to navigate:
- We’ve incorporated all the rides together to be easier to find and locate
- The rides will be automatically fed into the main website from the branch sites which you will be managing and rides will be featured on the home page of the main website. This will mean no more double handling as well as more promotion for branches.
- New members will be able to sign up and get easy access to the website
- All branches will be able to choose images to upload to the main website to feature their branch.
- You will have the choice of one of five different skins to customise your Branch website.
- We will be providing online training documentation for you to manage the websites.
- Branch websites will be easier to manage without needing to be a technical wizard.
- Your administration staff have been trained to be able to assist you when required and the company we are now working with understand the Ulysses Club ethos so in turn know that your needs are important.
- Branches will have access to a separate support website which will provide you with online training documentation, videos as well as any news on upgrades and a frequently asked questions area. In the support website you will be able to choose from 5 different free skins to be able to personalise your branch site. If your branch would like more, there will be a Premium Branch site available at a fee, in the near future.
- We are developing a new platform for Branch Supporters and Club Advertising which will assist and incorporate the Branches to in turn promote these businesses.
The new websites are a work in progress. Some might look a bit empty and maybe not as personalised as you like but we want to work with you to change this.
We have copied as much data as possible and backed up the websites we have on our current web server.
Some of our branch websites are great, they are active, well managed and have a lot of activity. These site managers may be the most disappointed in the need to move. We hear your comments and for those more prominent, we’ll work with you as much as we can to make the move to the new site structure.
For the Branches with FTP sites, you still have the option of keeping your present site, but to do that the Branch will have to meet the cost of a domain name and hosting outside of the Club.
The preferred and best option for the Club would be for all Branches to use the free generic website with all its enhanced features security and administrative support.