Archive for the ‘Website’ Category

Where are the updates?

I must apologise for the lack of updates to both this blog and the website of late but my spare time has been occupied by other projects. Some family history related and one that is not.

On the family history side I have at long last been doing some more research into my Buxton tree, or more specifically if and how I am related to Bernard Buxton the founder of Buxtons Ltd (the chainsaw place – if you are local you’ll understand), which I pass every time I visit the archives in Stafford but have not visited although I Keep thinking about it.

Also on the family history side and also related to Rushton Spencer, I’ve been working on the genealogy of the Parish again, it is slow going at the moment because until I have all of the registers transcribed I have incomplete data to work with.

The other project occupying my time is a website makeover for one of the leading West Midlands based injection moulding companies. Their current website is a bit long in the tooth and in need of an update, also due to the design practices of the time, the SEO (search engine optimisation) is pretty much nonexistent. So my role is to provide them with a greater web presence and improved rankings on the major search engines, if I improve the rankings on Google then improvement will follow on the rest.

In the near future I am also planning to make major alterations to, the visual design is not going to change just yet but there is going to be a radical restructuring of the site itself which, unfortunately will result in some major disruption for a few weeks while the search engines update their indexes of the website. If you link to the site using the url – that is – then you should experience no disruption but, if you link to specific pages then be prepared for the 404 error messages (page not found).

The reasons for the change are two fold one is to make maintenance easier, for example by using a small snippet of php code the copyright information will update itself each year with out me having to change the date and upload the whole of the site. Secondly I want to improve usability by, for example implementing some sever side programming that will highlight the keywords used in a search, to illustrate this if you look at this page you will see that the search terms are highlighted, this is something I wish to implement on my website.

The upshot of which is that I need to change the file extensions from .htm to .php which will of course break all of the incoming links to the site. At the same time to prevent a major disruption again, I will be changing the internal structure of the site so that, for example, instead of having to type to find information relating to Heaton you will only need to type to arrive at the same page, this degredation of the urls should again result in an improved user experience.

Don’t worry though I will make an announcement before the changes happen, and I will need to inform some of the websites linking to mine so they can also update their links.


August wrap up

I finally managed to get back to Rushton at the end of the month and so was able to spend an afternoon transcribing memorial inscriptions. Some maintenance work has been carried out in the graveyard and the vegetation that I was crawling through to find graves earlier in the year has now been cleared to expose the graves and in an other area of the graveyard some vegetation has been cleared and an number of graves I was not aware of are now visible if not exactly accessible including another two tombs. While I have not attempted to record these memorial inscriptions at this time at least I know that they are there and so will be able to record them. Unfortunately for some reason that is beyond me there has been a fire on top of two and next to another two headstones which has unfortunately resulted in damage to a number of the head stones.

38 new MIs have been added which include an additional 127 names – 17 of which are on the same tomb. On top of this another 10 years of the parish registers have been added.

Work is still on going on the registers and as some of you may be aware from visiting the website the year 1727 is missing from fiche F1109/1, I have contacted the Staffordshire Record Office and I am currently waiting for a response from them as to whether the relevant year is in the original registers. If it is not then I will have to contact Lichfield Record Office to see if the have the Bishops Transcripts for the relevant year.

If anyone is wondering why there is a picture of a rather fine cat at the start of this post, it is because this feline not only tried to make itself at home in the car, but also accompanied me around the graveyard for four hours before setting off across the fields – I can only assume home.

12 Months On

It is nearly a year now since the website went live and there are now 129 pages, 6745 transcriptions from the parish registers & 200 memorial inscriptions (although I plan to visit Rushton later this month so long as the weather is suitable for some field work).

To mark the first year of the website I thought that I would share some of the comments that I have received over they past twelve months;

“Just quick message to say that your site is fantastic. The look, layout and, especially, depth and breath of information is fantastic. Thank you very much for your work.”
Chris Howard, 21-06-2008

“Cant believe it – you’ve just made my day – ancestors I’ve been trying to find for years have just turned up on your latest updates! … Thanks again – and keep up the good work – it’s really appreciated.”
John Sharp, 21-09-2008

“I found your site by accident through a Google search. Absolutely fantastic website. So clear and intuitive.”
Simon Ford, 17-04-2008

“Martin – you are a bloody star my friend!!
This is awesome information and will take time to digest.
Can’t thank you enough, beers on me when we meet.”
Richard Hammond, 21-03-2008

“Martin, I would just like to thank you for the work you must have put in on the site. … Well done and keep up the good work.”
Paul Carter, 31-01-2008

“Hi there just want to congratulate you on this fantastic site it has helped me trace my Mitchells from Rushton Spencer. I’d given up for the moment but just thought I’d have another go online found the whole family I’m very grateful.”
Sandra Milligan, 13-09-2007

As email is the only form of contact that I have with the users of the website (and the server log files show that I have a small number of regular visitors) it is always good to hear your comments, and if you have any suggestions for material that you would like to see added to the website then please let me know via the contact page or through this blog.

June Updates

The addition of the baptism registers for 1850 – 1904 to the site is the major addition this month; work is now underway to transcribe the marriage registers for the same period, while steady progress is being made on the 1700 – 1749 registers which has seen the publication of the years 1700 – 1709.

Visits to the site are continuing to grow at a slow but steady pace and while the mention in the Midland Ancestor has not seen a great jump in traffic it has resulted in an increase in the average number of page views per visit and a decrease in the number of bounces that the site receives.

Now that summer is here, I hope that we will be graced with some sunny weather so that it will make a few visits to Rushton practical as I would like to put another 150 – 250 memorial inscriptions on the site this year. Not to mention the fact that it is a good excuse to spend a day or two in the countryside.

The Midland Ancestor

Hot<Keys>+Hot Sources in the current edition of The Midland Ancestor, the Journal of the Birmingham and Midland Society of Genealogy and Heraldry, has this to say about

“… valuable information (constantly being added to) for anyone with ancestors from these parts it is also an example for those of us who have done nothing, or very little, to make the fruits of our research available to a wider audience”.

And while things have been quite on the update front over the last few weeks I can promise that I am hard at work behind the scenes and that a major update to the parish registers will be arriving in the next few weeks.