As you will have noticed if a returning reader to Free Movement, the site has had a visual overhaul. The intention is to present the material more clearly and cleanly and adopt more of a news or magazine layout to show more content more quickly. You will also see a new shaded ‘In brief’ section on the main page which I intend to use for shorter form updates such as case alerts, links and reports.
I hope you like it. You can take a look at the evolution of the site’s design since it launched in 2007 in the gallery below.
There may be a few kinks to iron out with the new look and a few things to add back in. I’ll be cracking on with that over the next week (in particular some of the images for existing posts need sorting out) and if you spot anything that looks wrong I’d be grateful if you could let me know.
As part of the overhaul I am having to take a long hard look at the way the site has been extended over the years and considering whether a ‘leaky paywall’ can be implemented. The website runs on WordPress open source software, which is very easy for an amateur like me to extend with new software features known as “plugins” written by different developers. For example, there is a membership plugin to control access, a digital downloads plugin for ebooks, a learning management system plugin for the training courses, several forum plugins and about 40 more. For the first time the site has started returning database query errors (“502 error” on an otherwise blank screen) on a regular basis and this probably means that the plugins are not playing nicely together. I will need to simplify the site by removing some features, which probably means closing the forums or if possible moving them to a subdomain and different WordPress installation. They do get some good use (I’ve found out very useful things there myself) and I hope help to foster a sense of community but they are not as widely used as I had hoped.
I am also still exploring the possibility of a “leaky paywall” that would allow a certain amount of free access: 10 page views a month, 20, something like that. Ultimately I’d like to be able to offer a monthly as well as annual subscription and allow limited free access to the training resources as well. Income could be distributed to contributors based on page views, making Free Movement more of a collective endeavour. The annualised nature of CPD makes this difficult, though, because CPD slaves might well just sign up for a month, finish off their CPD and then cancel.
If you have any thoughts, do please let me know in the comments.