The New KAA Web Site
Well, it's been a long time coming, but here it is at last - the new KAA web site! What took so long? Well, partly a gross underestimate of the size of the job, partly because there was more to learn that I expected (and I don't only mean writing code), partly because of other commitments inside and outside of archery and partly because my wife likes to see me occasionally - seriously!
For the internet aficionados amongst you, if it doesn't exactly look like "Web 2.0", well that's because it isn't! There's no multimedia, no Flash animations, no blogs, no chat-room, no photo gallery, no interactive content ... more like "Web 0.2" really. And there's a very good reason for that too.
While I was doing some early research, I took a look at a lot of sports web sites to see what they had to offer. I looked at a lot of archery web sites and realised that there are actually quite a few of them out there; some of them are very professional and at the other end of the scale there are those that haven't been updated for years.
One thing I realised early on is that for the site to be of any value at all, it needs to contain useful information and it must be regularly updated - otherwise there is no reason to come back. So I have started with the kind of information that I am confident can be maintained. I have also tried to put together some of the stuff that archers have asked for, but a lot of it is buried in boxes of old paperwork and will take time - probably a lot of time - to rake through and find. So for the time-being there are gaps in what I have done, which I hope will get filled steadily over time.
I hope that this part of the site will evolve into a historical archive for the KAA, with historical information about the tournaments we run and their associated trophies (who/where they came from, why they were bought or donated, memories that they represent and so on). There are a lot of archers out there who have an interest in the history of the association or of archery in the county (not necessarily the same thing at all) - if any of you can fill the gaps or help with stories, anecdotes and information from the past, please get in touch. There is a wealth of fascinating information about our past out there - it would be wonderful if we could record it before it is lost for ever.
Well, that just about covers our past, but if anything the future development of the sport is even more important.
How do we attract new members into the sport? Well, the first small step is to exist on the "web", so that we can be found; alongside that is the inclusion of a short description of how the club structure works and a list of clubs, with contact details and their main shooting ground so that the general public can find us. I plan to provide more information about the club structure as time allows. But that is the 'passive' part of the development exercise and we have still to look at how the internet can help with active marketing of our sport.
How do we keep our members up to date with new developments? With the help of the internet we can provide information direct to many of our members, so we will be looking at the practicality of providing e-mail newsletters and RSS/ATOM feeds to keep them up to date. I have become acutely aware during this year of how difficult it is to get information to our members at any reasonable speed - it can only be to the benefit of the sport if we can solve this without resorting to 1200+ telephone calls every time interesting news breaks!
How do we help clubs that want to develop? We want to keep you informed of the work that we are doing alone and in partnership with the Kent County Council Sports Development Unit (KSDU) to solve the problems that clubs are facing - attracting and keeping new members, finding secure and affordable venues, understanding (and reducing) the increasing bureaucracy that faces sport administration even at club level, finding and unlocking external funding for specific projects. Technology doesn't provide solutions, but it does provide the means for communicating them quickly and effectively.
So this is just a first step in the development and there is a very long way to go. I have a lot of ideas about what can bed in the future, but ultimately it is the users who will define its success. So I need to hear from you - what would make you come back regularly and often? It would be very helpful to get your constructive suggestions? I just ask you to bear in mind that it all has to be built and maintained.
Some Technical Stuff
This web site has been developed to comply with all current W3C standards.
Why does this matter? Using standards, rather than simply building whatever works, often makes no difference to most users; but people with visual, hearing, motor or cognitive impairments also use the web and many need specialist accessibility software to help them. For these people, adherence to standards can mean the difference between being able to use a web site and giving up in exasperation.
The WCAG certification scheme defines three levels, according to how accessible web content is to people with disabilities, the more A's you get, the higher the standard. Although we have not yet marked each page, we believe that all pages in this web site comply to at least level Double-A and should therefore be readily accessible to the great majority of potential viewers.
The KAA wishes to ensure that nobody is unnecessarily disadvantaged, so if you have any accessibility problem relating to this web site, or if you have any suggestions about improving accessibility, please do not hesitate to report the issue to the webmaster.
One of our higher priorities is to improve the main navigation to make it quicker to get to specific parts of the site, by providing accessible sub-menus.