Last month we launched the new Trail website. Many members have taken the time to leave comments and ask questions about the new site. The development team have taken time to review these and make some decisions on how we move forwards with the evolving project. We have outlined here some of the key points that should help give a better idea of what is coming up next.
In the coming weeks will begin to implement some of the planned work. It’s helpful to get your feedback so please do leave your comments on this post and we will be keep reviewing and providing more info as we move forwards.
We made the decision to make the Trail website public for two reasons. Firstly, the aim of the Trail website is to help the TRF conserve Green Roads. If you are a TRF member then you are doing this by paying your membership as well as riding responsibly and possibly taking part in conservation projects. However, if you’re not a TRF member you can still help conserve Green Roads. If as a non member visiting Trail Website, the site helps you act in a certain way, or learn something, or take part in conservation work then it’s still doing its job. It’s important that the conservation message does not take place behind closed doors.
Secondly, it’s a dangerous misconception that because something is ‘members only’ that it makes it private and OK to say whatever you like. Any person can become a member of the TRF. The majority of TRF members are genuine trail riders who care about green roads, however there is nothing at all stopping someone with sinister motives from joining the club. If this person has access to ‘members only’ areas where conversations are being held that participants think it’s private then they can cause all sorts of problems. By making the Trail website public it encourages all members to think carefully about what they post. If you don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands then don’t post it.
Whilst we launched by making the Trail website public for the reasons described above, it has become clear that members still want an area that is just for them. With this in mind we will be making the ‘Trail Riding Talk’ area visible only to logged in users. It will no longer be public. We will also create Regional Club areas, again visible only to logged in members. This will be a place for Groups to manage their own conversations. We are looking into exactly the best way to do this. More details on this will be released once we have identified the best way forwards.
Yes, we will be making the discount codes/info only available to logged in members. Non-logged in visitors will be able to see a list of companies that offer discount, but you will need to log in to see the details.
There are people who use Facebook and people who don’t. Some people will never use Facebook and that’s fine. However, there is no point in the TRF trying to create a communication system that allows people to set up public, and private groups, chat with each other publicly and privately, arrange events and ride outs and incorporate some of the most stringent security on the internet – it already exists, it’s called Facebook. Many thousands of TRF members already use it. The TRF Trail Facebook Group has 1,287 members right now. Many regional groups use their Facebook groups to communicate and run themselves. It’s possible to join all these Facebook groups as a TRF member and have access to all the conversations that are going on round the country. HOWEVER, we do accept that Facebook is not for everyone and therefore we will continue to invest into the Trail website as a communication tool, however compared to the tools and features available on Facebook, the Trail website will seem simplified.
A full list of all the TRF Groups on Facebook can be found by joining the TRF Trail Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TRFTrail/
We believe that if you use use the communication tool that your local club has adopted to arrange ride outs you will have more success in getting others to join you. For some people this might be their Facebook Group, or their own club Forum or WhatsApp Group. For those that used the TRF Forum we acknowledge that the recent changes have made this more difficult for you. We are working on a solution. We would like to propose that ride outs are arranged in the Group Pages that will be launched as soon as our development team have built them. If this works then that is our solution. If it doesn’t then we will keep working on how to facilitate this.
Trail is unapologetically a tool to help the TRF conserve green roads. We welcome all and any conversation that works to this aim. Much of the design and communication decisions made in the development of the Trail website have been about encouraging this and making it more of a focus.
We also acknowledge that members also want to chat about other issues. We are ‘beefing up’ our resources page that includes links to help members find information and chat about issues that have less of a green road conservation focus. As with the whole of the website, this is in development but you can see where we are up to here: https://trail.trf.org.uk/green-road-resources/
The conversation thread gets longer and spread across multiple pages if there is a lot of chat going on. That’s a good problem to have as it means lots of people are using the Trail Website. However, there are tools that we will be bringing online that help you keep track. This will include a ‘save’ button that allows you to save conversations you like. We are also looking at adding ‘tags’ to conversations to make them easier to find.
If we fast forward 3 years and visit the Trail website our aim is that it is a ‘knowledge hub’ that is jam packed with info that relates to Green Roads. It’s the role of the Trail Editor to pull this info together. Some of it may be written by the editorial team but a lot of it will be contributed by members. It’s the editors job to pull this out and make it presentable and ordered so that it is of value to others and easy to find. We ask that you give us a chance to demonstrate this over the rest of this year.
Something that has gone largely unnoticed is the new membership sign up and management system. Despite the focus of conversation being about the Chat function, it is the membership system that has been the biggest success of this project so far. The majority of the resource invested into this new Trail Website went into migrating all of the TRF membership from the old system to this new one without any disruption to members or TRF income stream. This was no small feat. The new system is smoother, more secure and offers members more control over the way they manage their membership. In the 4 weeks since launching this system we have processed approximately 300 extra members (approx £12k).
The development team have a long list of amends to make to the Trail website. We will begin working through these in the coming days and weeks. Please feel free to leave messages on this post as we go. We’re working hard to help shape the Trail website into a valuable tool that will help the TRF in its mission to conserve green roads for its members to enjoy.