Developments at the NCBA – Towpath Talk, October 2016

Derek Stansfield continues with his series of articles illustrating the diversity of the membership of the National Community Boats Association. The Board of Trustees have recently been conducting a review of their publications and publicity, in particular the website and Trainer’s course notes.

The current website was originally built over 10 years ago and has had numerous functions ‘bolted on’ over the years, in an effort to keep up with the developing organisation.  Whilst it has served its members well by the content of the website it would be fair to say that this has become somewhat dated.  The NCBA therefore have contracted Luke Slowen to conduct an overhaul of the website in order to bring the most benefit & value to NCBA, and that this would include both the website design and underlying technology and design.  This should provide a sound platform for development both now and in the future as well as adding a degree of self-sufficiency (i.e. NCBA and its partners can maintain and add to the site).

All the current site functionality will still be required but grouping some areas more logically. At a high level, it is proposed moving to a hosted WordPress site, creating an updated look & feel around a WordPress template, building, developing and testing the new website iteratively (i.e. modules are built, tested, refined & released, closely involving NCBA staff and users to ensure requirements are met).

Once completed the website will have the following functionality:

  • Homepage – dashboard of latest info, pointers to important areas
  • News & Events, including archives, link to / incorporate blog
  • About Us – vision, why join (benefits, training, register / become a member), contact us
  • Members – listings by region / map, search by keyword / type, member detail pages
  • Member login – document downloads by category, ability to update member details
  • Find a Course – training courses by type, linked to members
  • Trainers, Board Members and CBLP login – entry pages per area, document downloads by category, ability to upload documents for moderation. Possibly add previous request for certification renewal information?
  • Links (to other organisations
  • Site search
  • Administration site

In order to illustrate the website and the NCBA it is important that it has a library of photographs and videos and members are asked to forward any that they have to

The second initiative the NCBA is undertaking is a review of the course notes, syllabus and course profiles.  The Trainers area of the website contains a wealth of information for the administration and running of courses.  Whilst this information is regularly reviewed it is not always easy to navigate through the contents.  Therefore. a small sub-committee has been set up to look, not necessarily at the content, but more at how this can be better presented to both the Trainer and the candidate as well as the public at large.  The deliberations of this committee will be disseminated to NCBA Trainers for their comments.

NCBA Conference and AGM

The NCBA Conference will be held at Aldridge Activity Centre on Saturday 12th November and will incorporate the AGM.  The programme has been designed to be informative and interactive.  Morning session will include an update on the website and the work of the Course Notes sub-committee.  In addition, it is also hope that information on the close liaison the NCBA is developing with the Girlguiding Narrowboat scheme.  Training is also an item that promotes much discussion and this year is expected to be no different.  Workshops have been arranged so that members can have their input, which has always been welcomed.

For those wishing to be a little more active there will be the opportunity to have a go at archery or try Aldridge Activiti Centre’s ropes course.

The Conference starts with tea/coffee arrivals at 10 am and attendance is free.  Anyone wishing to attend should contact Bob Ratcliffe at or Tel:  07921 404757

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