I'm perfectly happy to respond -
Richard wrote:annual membership fees (surely more hassle collecting than worth), there being on-site advertising etc.
Re: Online advertising - as you well know, this was on the forum only, and initially as a trial. The proceeds from this have been a little disappointing, *but*, and this is the but - to me, it's insane *not* to have - what I feel are really unobtrusive ads - on the bottom of the forum. Even if this ads only net the BFA £50 per annum, that's a good chunk of website hosting costs right there. It comes down to whether you think ads 'cheapen' the BFA prescience. Personally, (and completely personally!) I don't think they do.
I get this sense from reading the posts that the BFA gets the occasional enthusiastic website browser who determinedly navigates his way past the opening page, but otherwise it distinctly looks like the BFA membership has stagnated over the last few years. I would love to know what the profile of new attendees is, and how many new attendees go on to make it to say 5 events. I suspect the performance is pathetic but perhaps that is just me being cynical.
I can't comment on numbers re: membership, but I will say this - since the new website(s) have been in comission, the amount of enquiries and opportunities has shot up. As in by a factor of 5. Most of these inquiries have been grassroots based, and passed onto the ever suffering Jon May - but believe me, the difference in huge, and encouraging.
Whilst I am having a bit of a rant… I know the website is still work in progress, and I know there were things necessitating the upgrades, but I cannot help but think that until it really is finished it is one step forward two steps backwards. Lets face it – the website is the biggest advert to new players – and what impression does it give? Confusing to navigate, a general lack of visual content, an event schedule of one, and little more than a list of links to the forum.
I appreciate the forum is still the defacto 'source of information' and that is an issue. But two steps back? really? REALLY?
Confusing to navigate I don't agree with. Yes, i need to integrate the forum into the visual ouvre, but aside from that, I think it's pretty clear.
Re: a general lack of visual content, an event schedule of one - I agree - and this is something I'll come to in a second.
On the subject of the forum, this really is a complete mess. The visual limitations of the forum are there for all to see so I won’t labour them.
I'd be happy to hear the visual limitations - SO I CAN CHANGE THEM. please PM me.
But there also seems to be an almost complete lack of structure, with historic stickies cluttering many of the opening pages, so that historic items appear current. Announcements are badly managed and with no real purpose or structure. In fact, loads of stuff is out of date and most of the useful articles and guides on the forum disappeared under ten tones of crap long ago.
Agreed. I inherited a fairly complex permissions, groups and forum structure which doesn't necessarily serve the current usage well - but it's all very well me blaming the past, I need to fix it. So for that , I need feed back. Ideas in a PM please. Also, as a comparative newcomer, I find it difficult to ascertain what is 'useful' and what isn't. If they are that good, why not make them articles on the main site, or articles on the discover site? ideas on a PM please
Surely the best use of £2000 of the BFA’s money (if it has any left) is in paying someone to give the site and its contents a complete overhaul, so that there is a genuine fusion of the static site with its articles, videos, photos, jokes etc with a genuine interactive customer experience.
Ultimately, the new websites are written so that anyone with any skill (as in none) can update them. I've made many requests for content editors, events editors and the like and they're largely ignored. It's all very well saying 'why not pay someone' but quite frankly, the pay would be pathetic. If I charged the BFA my hourly rate they'd be instantly bankrupt - and that's not be being arrogant - that's simply the cost of any web developer. What the BFA needs is more volunteers prepared to take responsibility for something. *I* need people who will say 'yes, I'm prepared to keep the events section up to date' or 'yes, I'm interesting in dealing with x'.
Some of the functionality Tom (and others) has added to the site as webmaster is excellent. But it is lost within the overall scheme of things, and rather than simply relying on unpaid volunteers to role such things out - the BFA should make actively investing in the site its top priority - paying to supplement (or compensate) work done by volunteers as necessary
I agree the website is essentially our biggest marketing tool. I've put the framework in place to allow a multitude of people to contribute - whether we need to pay for such contribution comes down to opinion, but do we need more effort from those on the sidelines? YES - ultimately, £50 here and there isn't going to make a difference. Either people care or not.