Back in May I had confidently expected the redesign of the White Dragon website would be completed and the new site active from the beginning of August. The best laid plans, as they say. Various family issues arose during June and July which made the intended timescale impossible and we will therefore be returning to the matter in September once those issues have been resolved and the holiday season recovered from.
In the meantime, progress reports will be posted as and when on this blog so please call back from time to time for the latest excuses.
In much the same way as I spent a couple of days going through the old articles and sorting them into categories, I’ve now embarked upon the more daunting task of doing the same for all the on-line book reviews. I say “daunting” because there are a lot more of them – if each issue of the magazine contained an average of 4 articles, it contained some 10 or 12 book reviews so if nothing else the numbers are correspondingly greater.
A rough categorisation of the books was done some years ago, resulting in 8 categories. Some of these, such as “Fiction” and “Art”, were very straight forward and their contents can be transferred into new ones very easily. Some of the rest however are much more complex and need to be further split down. Consider the issue of the Celts and matters Celtic, for example. There’s a world of difference between a book by John Matthews naffly illustrated by Courtney Davis, and one by Dr Miranda Green; one is popular and the other academic, leading to “Celtic – Popular” and “Celtic – Academic” categories. One of the other differences between the two is that the academic books were the ones I deliberately solicited for review, and which as time went on the academic publishers started to send spontaneously, while the popular ones were the books certain publishers targetting a pagan or new age audience tended to send unbidden and often unwanted. Much the same goes for the history books.
Given the huge range of books in terms of both subject matter and seriousness (ie, in many cases, quality) reviewed over the years, it’s difficult to know just how many categories to use. Lumping together all the books currently lumped together under “Archaeology/History” doesn’t make it easy for the reader to find the sort of book they’re looking for, but equally too many categories are only going to lead to confusion.
I suspect it’s going to take me the best part of a week and several bottles of wine to do this properly.
The categorisation of the online articles is complete. I’ve taken the opportunity to review them all for continuing relevance and have decided to remove four of them from the new website. These four are short and essentially topical pieces which were published in the very early days in response to specific news items of the time and which no longer serve any real purpose. So out they go.
I’ve also revised the “What is WD?” and “Where is Mercia?” pages from the present website and amalgamated them into a single document. They were originally intended as information for prospective subscribers and writers but are more relevant now as a sort of potted history to answer such unasked questions as: How did WD start? And Why? And where exactly is or was Mercia?
One of the distinctive features of the WD website is the library of articles published in the earlier editions of the magazine which are now available online for anyone to read. I counted them up today and found there are over 100 of them, though admittedly some of those from the earliest editions are fairly short, ie 1,000 words long or less. Nevertheless, the sheer number of them raises questions as to how to organise and manage them within the pending site redesign.
After some thought it seems most appropriate to simply classify them under various topics such as “Arthurian”, “Heathen”, “Folklore” and “History of Magic and Witchcraft” and that is what I have been doing in recent days. Needless to say, articles don’t always belong entirely in a single category, and around half sit equally in two categories and a few in three or four so some duplication is inevitable.
We’re also planning to have a more efficient search function on the website which, combined with the categorisation of the articles, should make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for.