New team website launched

Whilst our new website has been live for a few weeks now, we’re proud to say that we’ve now ironed out the last remaining minor technical issues and can officially say that “we’re live!”.

Website history

The Bolton MRT website has been online since late 2000, during which it has seen three previous incarnations. The first version was designed and built by team member (at the time) Paul Baxendale ran from around late 2000 to October 2001, and was kindly hosted by Norbrook Direct Ltd. This website established the team’s presence on the web, at a time when many other Mountain Rescue Teams were also starting to get an online presence.

The second version of our website brought in additional content and an updated “news” section and an online donation facility. It was launched in November 2001. This website was designed by Paul Fletcher (friend of team member Steve Fletcher – no relation!), and was kindly hosted free of charge by Steve’s former employers, Bolton-based business ISP Netnorth Ltd. Our website has been hosted at Netnorth since that time, with Netnorth kindly providing all web hosting and email services to the team completely free of charge  – coupled with some excellent technical support over the years!

Our third incarnation (some would say the most successful to date) launched in November 2004 and ran for almost ten years in the same format. Work by a handful of team members, taking inspiration from other successful sites on the web, saw the launch of a website which was easier to keep up-to-date and a just a little easier for our users to navigate.

Our website today

Our brand new website has been designed with the latest technology and trends in mind, whilst still keeping our supporters informed and up-to-date, in an easy to read way. We settled on a WordPress framework, adding a number of plugins and customisations specific to our needs.

The site was designed by team members Chris Weatherhead, Paul Brain and Steve Fletcher, with photography by Carl Silver, and it launched after around six months of hard work and endless testing.

Specific considerations we had during the redesign were that…

  • Advances in mobile device technology over the years have seen our mobile phones turn into personal devices. The success of the tablet computer has meant that websites now must be designed to work well on a number of different sizes of display and many different types of web browser. Try looking at our new website on your mobile phone or tablet and see the difference!
  • We’re also conscious  of the vast number of our readers who have a presence on social media – Twitter and Facebook are a prime example. Our new website integrates into these social networks in a far better way than before. With “likes”, “shares” and “retweets” we can spread awareness of Bolton MRT and mountain rescue in general throughout the medium of social media. It’s no accident that the busiest ever day on our website was recorded very recently, and it smashed our previous record day (6th January 2010) by almost 300%!
  • Finally, our old website wasn’t easily “indexed” by search engines. Most of us use tools like Google, Bing and Yahoo! to find what we need on the internet, so making sure that our website was integrated well with these tools is now vital. After a huge effort we managed to migrate over 12 years of news articles (over 5,000 of them!) from our old website to the new, and these are now properly indexed by search engines.

We’ve added a number of other new features too…

  • Interactive maps of incidents on our incident pages & news feed – find out exactly where an incident occurred – and prepare to be surprised at where you might find us operating!
  • See our Twitter feed on every page – get the very latest updates from the team (sometimes direct from the scene of an incident)
  • Use your Facebook, AOL, Yahoo! or Hotmail account to comment on the news articles on our website.
  • For the I.T. geeks amongst you, our website is now also available over IPv6, making it more accessible to internet users without a native IPv4 connection.

We hope you enjoy our new website – let us know what you think!