As EssexInfo is/was a free solution for a Parish Council or other voluntary, community and not-for-profit groups, Essexinfo it was a pretty good one. Now that it is closing operations 31 March 2020 many will be looking for alteratives.
There were some aspects of the Essexinfo website that I liked and others that I found very frustrating.
Things that I liked
It was free. However, there was a learning curve that had to be negotiated to configure a site that was satifactory.
Once you had mastered the user interface it was relatively easy to upload and modify your content. Knowing some HTML definetely helped in this regard. However, it was not clear where some of documents were located in the interface.
As EssexInfo is a collective of community websites it was regularly indexed by Google and other search engines.
The multiple themes that were offered in the design IDE allowed the user to create a "Mobile Friendly" site. One that changed its rendering depending on the screen resolution of the device that was being used to view the site. However, this was not the case accross the board and most of the themes would not look good on a Smartphone.
Things that I didn't like or found frustrating
In general I found that the interface was overly complicated and used aspects of CMS that I come to loath. While this is largely a problem for myself, as I am a contrarian and like to do things my own way, I am sure that there were others that found the platform less than intutative.
The use of a WYSIWYG html editor (What You See Is What You Get) is contrary to my design ethos.
There seemed to be no easy way of previewing the web pages. You had to "Save and Publish" the pages and then go to the "live" site to see what you had changed. Simply "Saving" the page only allowed you to save your work s that you could then come back to editing it later. While this allowed you to check your content it was only when a page was made live that you could see and test your changes.
As mentioned above, uploading files, such as minutes and agenda, requred the navigation through a large number of dialog boxes. The pop-up dialoga, when many files had been uploaded, required much scrolling to reveal the "selection" or "insert" buttons. This, I think, is solved by my more structured approach to file organization and off-line management,
- My alternative to essexinfo.net closing
- My approach to Essexinfo closing
- Designing and running a website - how much work is it?
- Using the "External Site" setting on EssexInfo