About This Document
In this case study Kevin Holland, bagman with Ebor Morris, describes the development of the Ebor Morris website including:
- Development since the launch of website in 2004
- Using a private website area for members
- Storing current and archived data and information in a website
- Experience of using Weebly as a website editor
- Tips for continuity
About Ebor Morris
Ebor Morris are a thriving men’s side from York, founded in 1974. We perform Cotswold morris and the Longsword Dance from Escrick, which is just south of York. Our greatest achievements to date have been appearing on the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982 (Google “Eurovision 1982 interval”), and performing at a celebrity’s wedding party in August 2019.
The Ebor Morris Website
Creating our first website
Our first website was created by one of our members in the 1990s who developed it from scratch using HTML code and hosted it on a home PC connected to the Internet.
The pages held small amounts of mostly static information about Ebor Morris, a list of Events, and a few photos (see copy taken on 8 May 2004 on the Internet Archive).
Back then we were one of the first teams to have a website, but the look and feel stayed the same for a long time. By the time I took over as Bagman in October 2015 it was still functional but looking very dated compared to what was available in the world outside Morris (see copy taken on 2 October 2015 on the Internet Archive).
Creating our new website
I decided to try my hand at building a website that:
- Looked more ‘up to date’ and was more likely to attract new members
- Was easy to navigate
- Was securely hosted in the Cloud
- Didn’t need any coding
- Could be created and maintained quickly and easily from a phone app or a PC
- Was low cost or free
- Could keep our existing URL www.ebormorris.org.uk
- Allowed some pages to be password controlled
- Looked great when accessed from a mobile phone
After a bit of Googling, I soon realised that this would need a website building tool, so I looked at what was available.
I soon ruled out the widely used WordPress, as some features needed code to be written, and websites I found that were created in it still looked very old fashioned.
The next tool I tried was Weebly, using the free website builder. I’ll talk about some of my experiences with Weebly later, but in less than 2 hours I’d created a professional looking set of pages with basic information – so I carried on with Weebly and didn’t investigate any other tools.
I added more content over the next few weeks, mostly photos as page headers. By the end of October 2015, myself and the Squire were happy with the look and feel, so we linked our www.ebormorris.org.uk domain to Weebly and launched the new website.
This is what the top bit of the homepage of the first release looked like in October 2015 (see copy taken on 25 November 2015 on the Internet Archive):
The menu and website structure hasn’t really changed since this first release. I update the Home and Events pages at least monthly, and definitely after each event. I hate websites that have out of date information on them.
I change the Home page photo about twice a year with a recent photo of the team, and add new pages for specific events like our annual Walls Tour about a month before they happen. This is timed to when we make announcements on social media.
Regular updates like this help to keep the website fresh and interesting, and also put you higher up in Google search engine results!
Creating a ‘members only’ private area in the website
We have over 20 team members on the books, aged from 25 to 76. Most are in and around York and regularly come to our weekly autumn/winter/spring practices and weekly summer dance outs, 4 are ‘country’ members that we occasionally see.
I wanted a way to restrict access to some of the information we wanted to share across the team, including:
- Our membership list with addresses and contact details
- The list of who’s doing which dance-out
- AGM papers
- Confidential booking information such as celebrity weddings
- Videos taken at practices
- The current dance repertoire
- And more.
I also wanted one location for all information, that makes it much easier to remember where to look for it!
While many of our members are ‘tech savvy’, some only use old and slow PCs, some use work accounts that prevent use of Cloud apps, and some don’t have or don’t like using tools like Excel.
That ruled out using Google Drive to store files, which I know many teams use for data and information like this, but we decided it wasn’t suitable for us. Our website seemed to be the most obvious place.
Thankfully, Weebly has a feature where you can restrict access to certain web pages using a site-wide password. You need to upgrade to a Pro account to do this, but in Pro you also get useful features like a site search capability, HD videos and telephone support.
All I had to do was to set a site password, then change the Visibility of the pages I wanted to protect to ‘Site password’. Setting up a Members only page this way and publishing it for use can be done in seconds:
Once this Members page went live, I stopped emailing files out to the members. Instead, when a new file is uploaded, I send them an email containing a link to the Members page, with a reminder of what the password is, so all they have to do is click on the link.
Everything is uploaded as PDF files, which gets round issues with obsolete versions of operating systems and stops everyone having to get Microsoft Office.
Our members routinely use this facility. Several have commented that its now easy to find the latest information.
Putting Tour/ Day of Dance information on the website
This is a good example of how I use Weebly linked to our Members Only section. When I receive information about other teams Days of Dance or Tours that we are going to, I
- create a new webpage for the event and mark it for password protection
- upload the information to this webpage
- mark the page so it’s hidden from the top-level menu
- create a button on the Members page and link it to the event page
- publish the updated website
- email out a link to the new page to our members
All that can be done in under 5 minutes.
Once the event is over, I delete the page, and delete the button linking to it. Nice and simple.
Pages for our own annual events
I use a similar technique for our own annual May tour round York’s City Walls. The timings and route are the same each year, they are on a ‘Walls Tour’ webpage that is hidden from the menu for 10 months of the year. All I have to do each year is unhide it, then create links to it from text on our Home page and Events page e.g. ‘Click here to see the itinerary for our Walls Tour on 1st May’.
Again, nice and simple, and very quick to do. Here’s how easy it is to hide a page, just tick the ‘Hide in Navigation’ box:
In fact, using the capabilities in Weebly to easily hide pages from the menu, and easily add links to pages and external websites using text, buttons, or images, make it so easy to keep the website easy to use, current and interesting.
Creating an ‘Archive’ page
Once you’ve made the decision to store all Morris related files on the website, you soon get to the position where pages are full of stuff that you don’t need to use now but would like to keep for posterity – things like AGM minutes, old dance repertoires, and the like.
Instead of downloading them to storage drives, I create Archive pages in Weebly and move the files into there. They are protected by the site password, accessed from a link in the Members page, or from the top menu. There are in fact several Archive pages sorted by topic, with links from the main page to subpages e.g. AGM 2017, AGM 2018 etc.
My experience with Weebly
I’m very pleased with Weebly. It’s quite intuitive to use, and has some useful features including being able to change the brightness on photos so you can see superimposed text more easily.
I particularly like the ease to create new pages and make them look interesting. For example, at the bottom of our home page there’s a rotating gallery of photos. That was created using a standard Weebly feature in seconds.
I was quite fortunate that the page ‘style’ I picked when I first tried out Weebly has proven to be ideal for what we want. Every page has a header banner where you can upload a photo. That’s helped to make our site interesting.
The website looks great and works perfectly when viewed from a Mobile – Weebly automatically takes care of re-arranging pages into Portrait mode so the user doesn’t have to turn their phone sideways!
Our website look and feel has attracted several new members, got us bookings at prestigious events, a feature in the Yorkshire Post, and has received plenty of favourable comments.
Take a look and see what you think:
Weebly’s main strength from my perspective is that you can easily build and maintain websites without having to write any code at all, from a PC or from a mobile.
It’s great being able to add new photos to our website using my mobile when in the pub straight after a dance-out, and update event information as soon as we get an invite (I add it to our Events page and mark it TBC, it saves me having to remember it!).
The only downsides I’ve found are:
- Cost: You can create a site for free, but it will have a name like morristeam.weebly.com and the features are limited. It’s a great way to try it out though. ‘Connect’ lets you get rid of the Weebly in the domain name, and costs about £50 a year, but has Weebly ads on your pages and doesn’t allow password protection of pages. We’ve got Pro that’s about £140 a year which gets rid of the adds, and provides page protection and more, we think it’s well worth it.
- Adding multiple images to a page: To put an image on a page, all you have to do is drag and drop the Image tool then upload a photo. When you want to add multiple images and line then up – e.g. three across in three lines, sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own and aligns then where you don’t want them! But that’s probably down to me not reading the Help section!
Overall I’d highly recommend Weebly. It’s easy to create some great looking content that’s easy to navigate.
Here’s an example I created in a few minutes: A subpage from our Galleries/Links page, with a clickable image that takes you straight to one of our Google Photo albums. This gets round the issue that Google Photos won’t let you share a single link to a photo collection, but still lets us use the powerful features of Google Photos.
Tips for continuity
I’ve heard of a few sides who had to create a website from scratch after falling out with a previous member who ran their website. This is particularly a risk when the website is developed and hosted on someone’s own PC/Server/Work computer system and not in the Cloud.
Using web hosted tools like Weebly (other tools are available) take that risk away.
Handing over to a new web editor just needs the login and password, giving you continuity. These are shared between our officers, just in case.
Weebly has a great feature that allows you to add additional web editors. That will be useful if, for example, the team member that arranges dance-outs isn’t the web person. They could easily learn how to update the Diary page and publish the changes.
The email that we use for accessing the Weebly website, and getting the bill, is the same email that we use for official Bagging purposes. We use Outlook, the password for the account is shared with the Squire and the Foreman.
All this, and storing everything on the Website, simplifies handover to the next Webeditor/Bagman, providing the necessary continuity.
I joined Ebor Morris when I was 16, and apart from a brief interlude with Micklebarrow Morris and a sabbatical, I’ve been with then ever since as a dancer and a musician. I’ve been Bagman twice, the first way back in the 1980s and the second stint starting in October 2015.
Before retirement I had a long career in IT, starting as a software engineer and ending up as a globally recognised authority on IT service management and SIAM (service integration and management), for which I was awarded Fellowship of the British Computer Society and the ITSMF UK Lifetime Achievement Award.
Get in touch
Please feel free to contact me if you’d like any more information or tips, using the Contact form on our website
Kevin Holland, Ebor Morris Bagman
Status of this Document
Document published: 29 Oct 2021
Licence for this Document
This document is available with a Creative Commons Sharealike (CC-BY) licence. In brief, this means you can copy and make changes to this document provided you give acknowledgements to the author/publisher. A suggested wording for acknowledgements is:
This document is based on the "Developments to the Ebor Morris Website" document by Kevin Holland, Ebor Morris. Ebor Morris are member of the Morris Federation.