IHBC Yearbook 2010

18 Y e a r b o o k 2 0 1 0 From Jobs to Blogs: the IHBC website Joanna Theobald and Peter Badcock In September 2007 it would have been hard to imagine that www.ihbc.org.uk would grow to over 24,000 pages, or that it would receive over 200,000 visits per month, and few would have expected that its homepage would become the sector hub for conservation news from the UK and beyond. However, long before the website’s re-launch in 2007, it was obvious that what had begun as a complement to the IHBC was quickly becoming an integral component of the institute. The site incorporates ever expanding resources such as Jobs in Conservation (www.ihbc.org. uk/jobs.htm), which serves public and private sector clients worldwide, and Events (www.ihbc.org.uk/events. htm), which details conferences, seminars, short courses and other events, again from across the globe. Furthermore, with the consultations process representing a key element in formulating the IHBC’s external policy on a range of issues, easy access to these consultations is essential. Placing them online (at www.ihbc.org.uk/consultations. htm) ensures that anyone interested in commenting can do so before the IHBC issues a response. With the rebranding of the IHBC, the website changed dramatically, not only through the introduction of the elements described above, but also with the arrival of the NewsBlog. This resource has grown at an astonishing rate, starting out in October 2007 with up to 6 headlines on the homepage www.ihbc.org.uk and, at the last count, 18 headlines. Over 1,700 people are notified when new ones appear. Each is linked to the NewsBlog provided by IHBC Director, Seán O’Reilly, covering national and international heritage and built environment news. The archived listing of the NewsBlog is fast becoming another key reference resource for the heritage sector; so much so that it has been converted into a beta version of a searchable database linked from www.ihbc. org.uk/news_update.htm. Other online resources which have been developed since the re-launch include Web Based Resources (www. ihbc.org.uk/web_based_resources. htm), which provides access to all kinds of historic and contemporary records regarding the built environment. Links and partners (www.ihbc.org.uk/links.htm) is another development, containing information on a vast range of related organisations, and reflecting the steady rate at which we are developing new links throughout the conservation and built environment sector. Both these resources are not only invaluable to IHBC members and other website visitors, but they also help to establish good working relationships between the IHBC and other organisations. It is through initiatives such as this that the website excels in supporting the effective protection and enhancement of the historic environment and in promoting heritage-led regeneration and access to the historic environment for all. Another innovation since the site’s re-launch has been an online booking facility for the last two annual schools. A lot of discussion and numerous revisions took place for the 2008 school but last year’s booking system was largely unaltered and was used for several other IHBC conferences. This year’s, ‘Going for Gold’, in London, incorporates technical refinements to make booking even easier (www.ihbc.org.uk/gold2010). The technical bit Behind the simplicity of the website’s layout lurks a complex system involving numerous scripts, subroutines, mini programmes and the indomitable Peter Badcock. For those who are interested in the processes involved, Peter highlights the use of databases as one of the surprising features of the site, which are used in often unexpected ways to drive its functionality. The main menu, for instance, could not work in its Joanna Theobald, the website’s administrator, looks after the day to day running of the website. The IHBC Annual School pages provide full details of the event and enable bookings to be made online, simplifying the process for both the delegate and the organisers.