Manchester Ancestors

About Project

MANCHESTER & LANCASHIRE FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY was formed in 1964 and is now one of the largest family history societies in the world. Although the Society is united by a common interest in Genealogy and Family History, members also pursue interests in closely related fields.

Live Project
Category
Membership Portal
Client
Manchester Ancestors
Release
September 2020

I was invited to the redevelopment of their old, dated website and transform their online facility as a modern genealogy website for people who want to trace their ancestry and have family connections in Manchester and Lancashire.

The task in hand is not something that a regular web design company could undertake. They needed a specialist in membership marketing who had the capacity to take on the complexity of creating a membership web application that could handle a database of millions of records. The technical challenge from the outset was to ensure time was dedicated to research and ensuring simplicity in the user experience, so that the new website would be easy to navigate and GDPR compliant.

A membership model was required to ensure paying members could find their local branch. Each member received full access to the large database, where they could search a wider range of records and historical archives, plus easily manage their online account.

A membership web application was developed that was simple to use for web admins and members alike. We moved many offline systems, online, and provided a centralised management tool for the entire Society. The platform provides the tools for new members to join the Society online, pay for membership and manage their account profile and subscription from an easy-to-use dashboard. Great importance was placed great importance on protecting and securing online records from public visibility and ensuring compliance with GDPR regulations.

Family History Society Members can now access a unique database of over 2.7 million records, as well as archives of historical street maps and old Society magazines, dating back years. This online community has been created to allow members to conduct research, share knowledge and expertise, participate in events, and access a wide range of family history web tools to help them find their ancestral information.

I worked with the Society over an eight-month period to understand the operations of the organisation, the legacy databases that existed and how to migrate them safely into a new platform. I talked to branch managers to understand the local and specific needs and in doing so managed to build a bespoke membership platform that met the needs of all stakeholders.

Ultimately I recommended the use of the Joomla content management system (CMS) as this provided the high degree of database design flexibility without over-reliance on third party plugins. We followed a thorough process, involving four discovery sessions, brand design, UI design, prototyping and build. The entire project took around eight months to complete.

In addition to web design and build services, I undertook a complete re-branding of the Society, which involved a new name, and new logo. With a completely new look and feel with new branding, the Society can now operate its services efficiently and confidently. Since the launch, there has been superb feedback from members and staff users. I am very proud to achieve this wonderful piece of work for the good people of Manchester.

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