New Gloucestershire Archives Website!

Observant users of the Gloucestershire Archives website will have noticed that the site has been looking somewhat different for the past couple of weeks. Over the past year, we have been working hard behind the scenes to update, refresh and generally overhaul the site.   The last review was in 2016 and since then the site had grew like Topsy resulting in a lot of duplicated information, and many rabbit holes to get lost down!

We were helped in the early stages by a marketing agency who were able to bring an impartial eye to identify missing content, where we had taken knowledge for granted. They also helped us to establish key principles for the refreshed site. You’ll now notice that each page has a “call to action” which suggests what you could do next. And we’ve made sure that links open in a new window wherever possible, rather than bouncing you off the site.

So what else have we done? Well, we’ve been able to streamline content significantly, which in turn will make the new site easier to add to and keep updated. We’ve made the site navigation clearer by making sure that the navigation bar which you see on the home page is also visible on every other page of the site.  We’ve included a photo of the building’s front entrance on the home page, so that if people visit us, they will feel reassured that they are in the right place. 

Photograph of the outside of Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

We’ve also added more images, particularly as thumbnails at points where various options are offered, and this is an aspect we could develop further as time allows. One place where we have used more images is on the “Learning for All” pages which offer a wealth of excellent resources, many aimed at schools. Who wouldn’t want to have a lesson with Miss Strict and Miss Honey, pictured here!

Photograph of two female teachers in an old Victorian classroom

One of the main challenges has been how best to present the many guides and resources we’ve compiled to help researchers find and use documents within the archives and local studies collections. We’ve grouped them all into broad subject categories- although even this was difficult as a guide can of course be helpful for more than one topic and needs to be flagged up under different headings accordingly. We’ve taken a radical approach to our “mini guide” series, almost 70 in number. In the pre-online environment these were 2 sides of A4 which in due course became website downloads. This was not ideal for the user, as it meant the guides were relatively hidden, or for us as they were cumbersome to add, remove or update. We therefore decided to deconstruct them by putting the text directly onto a website page.

We’ve done some user testing, thanks to the Heritage Hub user group, and a soft launch hasn’t revealed any major glitches. If you’re thinking “what new website, it looked just the same when I was on it yesterday”- it may be because you went onto it via a google search and so were at the mercy of caches and web crawlers. This should reduce in time but meanwhile be sure to get onto the site by putting the website address www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives into your browser bar and then bookmark the result.   

We hope you like the new site.  Why not dip in and have a look around.

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