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 Spinning a web

 A spider’s web is designed, and located, so that it will catch ‘outsiders’. The same is true of many websites, though the Web is now so ubiquitous that it is used for almost everything, including ready access and sharing of information by ‘insiders’. Many towers have a website, including Wokingham All Saints, where I ring. Mostly they are intended for other ringers, and they contain information like contact names, times of ringing, and so on. Many have a picture of the tower, and some have details of the bells, and perhaps their history.

Some include an explanation of bellringing intended for non-ringers, but not many, and it is usually brief. Our tower website is different. It is mainly intended for non ringers, and it includes a lot of information about many aspects of bells and bellringing. Several things combined to make it that way.

Our first ever website was produced by one of our ringers, Andy Smith, when he was still at school. He fancied doing it, so we encouraged him. There was a vague idea that it might help with fund raising for the tower restoration project, but it was not clear how. I sketched out a structure of what it might contain, and several of us fed him information, but it was never properly finished, and went into limbo while he was at Cambridge.

Meanwhile, as part of our drive to explain ringing to the local community (see earlier article ) we had conducted many people on tower tours, and I have given talks to many community groups. I knew how interested people were, once they realised how much there was to ringing – it wasn't just 'someone pulling a rope'. I realised that a website had the potential to bring this information to many more people, so I began again, to produce a much more comprehensive website. You can get an idea of just how comprehensive, by looking at the site map . Two things helped: we had a lot of pictures from the restoration project, which makes a very good story, and I had prepared a lot of material for talks, which formed the basis of the three 'about ...' sections.

All feedback so far received is very positive, from both ringers and non-ringers.

Many people, having produced a website, leave it at that, but I was aware that for it to be of any use, people would have to visit it. Solving that problem proved harder. If you are selling something, you put things on your site that the search engines will find when people are looking for them. But we weren't selling anything that most people would be looking for. I have tried to get links from as many sites as possible, normally offering a link in return, but if you know of any more, please let me know . If you think people who use your site might be interested in visiting ours as well, then please add a link, either to the home page, or to whichever page interests you. And of course, have a look. 

John Harrison April 2007

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