The story up to June 2007

In mid 2002, IofC decided to take forward its web development strategy in a major way. Up to this point, its internet presence had been patchy. There was a global website consisting of just a few static pages, in four or five languages. Some IofC national bodies had websites, but they were on the whole minimal and there was no branding consistency. This was not through any fault on the part of the technicians and editors who did their best to produce quality sites - but there was a lack of priority given by IofC to the internet, and inadequate resources invested.

In September 2002 a small team started work in Oxford: Jit-Mun Chong, a brilliant technician from Malaysia, took a year of unpaid leave to base in Oxford and do the programming; Eve Wojciechowska, a graphic designer from Canada already living in Britain, took on the visual work; Edward Peters, a jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none, undertook the team leadership.

In retrospect, we achieved the impossible! Jit-Mun worked far too long hours and produced our first website in less than three months - a standalone 'Extranet' (login) website to serve the needs of IofC's worldwide network. This site was programmed from scratch, and included some high-end features. We had started with a vision of a fully integrated content management system and this was the first step.

By the middle of 2003, we had a public global website in seven languages, and a few other public sites for national bodies. It was a heroic effort!

Jit-Mun returned to Malaysia after his year out, and was succeeded by Vitalie Cracan from Moldova. Vitalie had little programming experience but being a brilliant mathematician he quickly became an expert programmer - and stood at the heart of our web team for the next four years.

The second iteration of our sites (achieved in 2005) was the integration of all the public websites into one database infrastructure – with major benefits in content sharing and in speed of new site development.

The third iteration (on which we were working since 2005) involved a migration to a new, more solid architecture to carry the weight of an integrated Extranet (with its more specialised functionality) as well as the public sites, all in one system.

In mid 2007, however, it became apparent that our little team was too small, and not skilled enough by itself, to complete the third iteration in the way we had envisaged. Eve had moved on in 2006. And although John Freebury (Canadian, with considerable technical and community experience) had joined us in 2005, we were having to face the fact that the retirement of Vitalie was presenting major challenges to the sustainability of our whole web project.

We came to the conclusion that we could not continue as we were going, and needed to take stock.

After initial dismay at this reality check, we came to see it not as a failure, but as an opportunity to embrace a new vision of how IofC’s web needs were to be met.