Tang Hall Big Local

Tang Hall Big Local is a Lottery-funded project that aims to make the Tang Hall area of York a better place to live over the next 10 years. An important part of the project is a website that will enable local people to build a community, making connections, organising events, and learning more about each other and the place they live.

Designing and building a site that needs to appeal to such a broad range of people over a long time period, and providing the infrastructure for a local social network, made Tang Hall Big Local a challenging and rewarding project for Castlegate IT.

Focus on features

Working closely with the client, we distilled the broad aims of the project into a set of useful features for the new website:

  • Directory: to help establish connections within the community, the site would feature a searchable, user-led directory of local businesses and organisations.
  • Membership: people will be able to log in to the site and create their own directory listings, events, and news articles.
  • Events and news: the site will be a place to share information about local events, making it easier for people to find out what is going on in their area.
  • Locations and history: an interactive map and timeline will let people share information and points of interest in their community.
  • Keeping in touch: newsletters and integration with social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, will help people stay in touch with the project away from the site.

Bespoke systems

WordPress is a great starting point for user accounts and content management, but this project’s unique features would also require some entirely custom code. We needed to define several new custom content types:

  • Directory pages, each representing a business or organisation
  • Events
  • Frequently asked questions, which can be embedded in any page on the site
  • Interactive timeline entries, including embedded media
  • Locations of interest

Our experience and expertise in writing standards-compliant WordPress code meant that we were able to prepare bespoke plugins for these features, making them easy to manage from the WordPress admin panel. We also designed and built an entirely custom theme to display all this information:

  • Directory entries can be searched and filtered to aid navigation
  • Events are displayed on a fully responsive calendar with daily, weekly, and monthly views
  • Historical information is displayed using Timeline JS, providing an interactive experience and rich embedded media
  • Locations are shown on an embedded Google Map, with colour-coded icons representing different categories

The result is an attractive, accessible system with fine-grained content management and intuitive navigation.

Building a social network

Tang Hall Big Local is a community project and for the site to succeed, it has to involve the people in the community. Any site visitor can use the forms on the site to contact the project managers, apply for grants, or suggest new locations for the map. But it is the membership system that really makes the site stand out from the crowd.

Individuals, businesses, and organisations from Tang Hall can sign up for a user account on the site, which is subject to administrator approval. Once approved, they can create their own directory listing and submit news articles and events, which are then featured throughout the site. Enhanced members can create additional pages as part of their directory listing.

User involvement and member accounts help to build a network of community organisations, putting people in touch with their area and letting them find out more about local news and events.

Result

Tang Hall Big Local is a decade-long project and is still in its earliest stages. Their new online presence, with its strong focus on building an interactive community experience, will be an invaluable resource for residents and local organisations. We are proud of the modern, vibrant design of the site, its attention to accessibility and compatibility with multiple devices, and particularly its highly customised, WordPress-based system for managing content, news, media, events, and user accounts. We have used established, well-tested technology as a foundation for the site and extended it with entirely custom plugins and themes to create a unique new website.

Get in touch and let’s discuss how we can help