As webmaster, this past year has generally been one of continuity. My priorities have been
- to work with our activity coordinators to ensure that the activity schedule is updated in a timely manner
- to work with our membership secretary, Marion Perry, to ensure that she has access to the latest membership registrations that come in from the website, and to ensure that the email list used for the newsletter is up to date
- to work with our newsletter editor, Sam Ludmer, and his vacation substitute, John Galbraith. when any issues have arisen regarding the process of creating or sending the newsletter
- to work with OOC members and members of the executive as required when they have had issues related to our Internet presence
- since part of our website uses a content management system (CMS, specifically, Drupal) for the website content, to ensure that the CMS components are kept up to date when updates are provided
- to work with our web hosting provider as required
Along with the usual schedule and front-page updates, the following content enhancements were made to the website:
- Trip fees: I enumerated all of the Gatineau Park parking lots, determined the distance to each, and calculated the car-pooling rates for each. (This is handled by a spreadsheet, so the annual updates will take little time.) This will be of special interest for those outings that start at close locations such as P1 and P2, where the car-pooling rates are now set at $1 and $2, respectively. Previously, the rate for P16 at Pine Road ($4) was used for the close locations.
- Club updates: The website has had a page containing updates from the executive for many years, but it's not been updated for many years. I reconfigured it to make it much easier to provide executive updates. In my role as president I plan to publish news and policy updates here.
The Twitter feed that was added a couple of years ago is used occasionally. Anyone can post to it by including the hashtag #ottawaoutdoorclub. It's been used by leaders to post last-minute issues (such as those related to weather) and by others to post photos of recent outings. I encourage all activity coordinators to inform or remind your trip leaders of this possibility.
Since the decision a couple of years ago by the executive to open up our Facebook group to commentary again after a number of years of not permitting group members to comment, the membership in our Facebook group has continued to grow, although at a slower rate over the past year compared with the year before that. Here's the membership history over the past few years:
- 30 September 2015: about 340
- 30 September 2016: 1245
- 30 September 2017: 1563
It has continued to be very successful, with many Club members posting photos and comments. In addition, people have been posting questions and Club members have been answering many of them. All of this has very likely helped foster a greater sense of camaraderie in the Club and, since both Club members and non-members can be part of the Facebook group, has advertised the Club to others. As the numbers have increased, we've started seeing wider conversations on the group. We've had discussions in the executive as to how free-ranging to let it be. Initially, it was just to be related directly to the OOC. Most of the non-OOC discussions that have appeared have been related to activities that we could consider doing, and it seems that we are starting to become a source of information for Ottawa outdoor activities. I think that we're very much in a transition phase.
Some leaders have posted their activities, which has likely increased participation in some of those events. From my own experience of posting the hiking and canoeing events that I've led, I very strongly suspect that I have had larger turn-outs due to my event postings. Notice of an event shows up in a person's Facebook feed, thus increasing that person's awareness of the event. Since many (most) people are on Facebook off and on throughout the day, there's a greater chance of seeing the information there vs. on our own site. In addition, many people use the "event" to ask questions. The Club's website is always the definitive information source, since not all Club members are on Facebook.
I want to extend a big thanks to our hiking coordinator, Eddie Drueding, for quickly accepting new requests for membership in our Facebook group, posting enticing banner pictures, and just all-around keeping on top of the group.
Occasionally, we have a few people post information completely unrelated to what we do or might do. In these cases, I've sent the posters a Facebook text message telling them that their post was being deleted. For some cases, it was just a misunderstanding of the limits of our group. In other cases, a person would join and would, within minutes or a day, post what is clearly advertising. In these cases, I would remove the posting and remove the person from our group, along with informing the person of such. 14 people were informed over the past year, and one post was removed before I planned to remove it myself. Of the 14 informed, 7 were removed and blocked (one due to a second post after being warned) and 5 were warned about future possible removal (including the person included in the 7 removed).
Website statistics for the past year
We had fewer visitors to the website this past year compared to the previous year, on the order of about 20 - 25%. The numbers were consistently lower throughout the year. The first graph below is for the past year (October - September) and the second is for the previous year.
We generally have about 35 - 70 visits per day. This chart shows the numbers of visits categorized by their lengths (in seconds or minutes) over the past year. This is little-changed from last year. It suggests that about half of the people entered the website, realized that it was not where they wanted to be, and moved on.
People accessed the website from the devices shown in the table below over the past year. Of interest is the increase in the proportion of smartphone and tablet accesses (38.3%) over the previous year (34%).
People entered the website onto these two pages most of the time:
- home page: 56% of the time (58% last year)
- schedule page: 32% of the time (29%)
As a result, I try to put as much information related to immediate activity needs as possible in these two pages, trying to balance the needs of new and potentially-new Club members vs. the needs of experienced Club members.
People entered the website from the following sources:
- directly: 39.5% of the time
- search engines: 54.6% of the time
- Facebook (likely from our Facebook group): 5.6% of the time
- other websites, excluding Facebook: 0.2% of the time
About 31% of our website visitors are from the Ottawa-Gatineau area.