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New website for VAAC (Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester). Developed in Perch Runway and replacing an old, slow WordPress website. A fresh, modern and bright replacement, that really represents what VAAC are and do.

Background and Proposal

We just completed a new website for VAAC (Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester) in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

The customer contacted us soon after we completed a website for another volunteering charity, Mid Sussex Voluntary Action. They were looking to replace their website, had seen the new one for MSVA, and were keen to know who had created the new website. We were invited to tender in March 2017 and sent our proposal in April.

As with all similar organisations, several months passed as they worked on their funding and considered proposals. We kept in regular contact and were appointed to build their website around the end of 2017.

Streets Ahead and Kingfisher Design & Print held a meeting at VAAC soon afterwards and began the project in the first quarter of 2018. The regular contact and the initial meeting gave us the confidence that we’d been working with people who were very committed to their charity and to success of the project.

During the second quarter of 2018, the outline website was built. Content was added during the next few months, as we worked with their staff, adding and adjusting pages to the incoming content. After a couple of weeks of checking and testing, the site went live at the start of September 2018.

Previous Website in WordPress

VAAC had a website before this one, that they’d had to build quickly. Their early website was run by a volunteer, who left the organisation. Faced with not knowing how to run the site they had, they turned to building their own WordPress site in order to put ‘something’ in place of the old site.

With no training or expertise, they quickly discovered that their WordPress site was tricky to manage, seemed very slow, and there was no-one to call upon for help and advice. Things had to change if they were to provide support to their members and visitors, and that’s when they turned to us.

Development in Perch Runway

The new website is built around Perch Runway, the ideal solution as this is a very content-centric website. The site makes extensive use of ‘Collections’ to hold the data, to provide database searches of the services offered by their member organisations, and to control all their news, events, vacancy listings and in-house publications.

The entire site is built around just two ‘master pages’ in Perch. Each page uses the Perch ‘Blocks’ feature, giving a selection of partial-page layouts that the site managers can select from on every page they create. Every page can be made to look a little different, despite the page structure being constant.

A password-protected Members area, using the Perch Members App, allows them to have a selection of pages that registered members can use. Each member controls their own profile and password. We extended the password system, to force an improvement in password quality, using a ‘helper’ function that’s part of the Perch form. Someone in the active online Perch Community was also helpful, advising us on how to do this without modifying Perch core code.

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Visit www.vaac.org.uk

Fast, and easy to use

The site runs very little Javascript, and does all animations using CSS alone. CSS Flexbox is used on many pages and, of course, the site is fully responsive and secured with https. HTML validation of the site shows no errors on any pages and, also because the site is written around Perch Runway, the pages load very quickly and score well in website speed tests that we have run.

A happy customer and website users

Most importantly, the VAAC team is delighted with the final website. They tell us its very accessible and easy to use. Everything is straightforward, easy to navigate around (public site and Perch itself) and easy to update. They enjoyed the process of the site being created, getting enthusiastically involved in adding information and seeing the site grow.

They are now confident they will receive any required ongoing support and guidance that we offer to all our clients. Feedback from their visitors and trustees is that the site is fresh, modern and bright – and really represents what VAAC are and do. Its also pleasing for us to see the site actively used and regularly updated to keep it fresh.