Creating Possibilities - The Very First Blog!

Posted by roi-admin |

Here it is at last! Our own shiny new community website! It’s been a long time in the making and has been a challenging journey but I am thrilled to have been able to fulfill the promise and commitment I made to the community some months ago.

If you have an account, please log in, if you don’t, please request one. Why is registration required? - Please see this blog entry.

As I had mentioned earlier, my intentions in creating this dynamic website were to:

  • Have a communication platform where information can be disseminated and received in near real-time. See the section titled Website Features below for more on how this is made possible.
  • Have a virtual meeting & interacting space where we can come together and create what we choose to create.
  • Significantly lower the barrier for inter-community communication and interaction, thereby creating the possibility of increased “community conversation”. Yes, this will not replace the face-to-face get togethers we have been having and will likely have in the future but now there is a more convenient, faster, easily accessible alternative for us to converse with each other!

Website Features

The following features & functionality are implemented at present:

  • Secure, access-managed site with user accounts.
    Some of the functionality such as discussion forums, community calendar, member directory etc. are only available to community residents with user accounts at the site.
  • Discussion Forums.
    Community conversations - anytime! Gone will be the days where the only option to discuss something was to wait for the occasional get-together. It’s also a good cure for that dreadful “Reply All” button on the email applications :o).
  • Blogs (or The Hampton Blogs).
    While discussion forums are well suited for threaded conversations with many different users, blogs are ideal if you are in the mood to express yourself in an article format. Each member has the ability to create their own blog with blog entries which will be automatically listed in reverse chronological order.
  • Community Calendar.
    One central calendar that is visible to all residents! How nice! This is ideal for scheduling / announcing community-wide events.
  • Classifieds.
    Our own “classifieds within walking distance”! There’s the ability to attach images to postings too! You can offer items or services as well as post an ad looking for an item or service.
  • Notification and Subscription System.
    What if you post something at the site in the discussion forums and the next day someone posts a comment and you forgot all about your posting? Or what if an important event was posted to the calendar but you just missed it because you forgot to periodically go to the site and check the calendar? Ah! there’s a solution for that: You can subscribe to both of these content types and then tell the site how often you’d like to be notified and by what means (through email or at the website within your account page)... and the rest is... just convenience and coolness! Subscription and notification settings are managed within your “My Account” page.
  • Site-wide search.
    All of the content at the site whether it be within blogs, discussion forums or calendar events is indexed for search. So you can search for any keyword throughout the entire site!
  • User / Member Directory.
    Members are listed with select information from their profile. The directory is only visible to registered residents of the community.

Additionally, there is a community guidelines section that was suggested by Allen Rhodes a while ago. We might have to decide on the structure and content of it as we move forward.

Please bear in mind that this is an evolving site. While the basic framework has been laid out and the site itself is fully functional in its present form, its design will evolve over time. Some features may be added, some may evolve as we move forward. Some of the features I am interested in implementing in the future include: An image gallery where we can post and share community related photos, A voting system and a “downloadables” section where active community members or leader can post important documents that can be downloaded by users. It’s a lot to dream I know! So no promises!

Of course there are social networking sites out there and third party website creation tools that we could have used but those would have severely restricted our choices but most importantly I thought we should have maximum control over our own data and information. Hence I decided to build our own site with a Web Content Management System (commonly referred to as a WebCMS) as the underlying framework.

Finally, the site is pretty much self-explanatory. Those who are of the curious kind should be able to find their way around. Please feel free to tinker around and let me know if you come across something that you think I should have told you not to tinker with :o) - seriously, if you come across any anomalies, bugs etc. please let me know. Let’s make it a great site! I do have plans to put up some “How to ... “ guides. The notification and subscription system could use one I think.