Updated Website for Otter Tail County Historical Society

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Updated Website for Otter Tail County Historical Society

By: grabitsdm | Information Technology | August 4, 2010
We registered our domain name otchs.org in 2003. We had a previous website developed by a volunteer but wanted to have more control over the site and an ability to update it ourselves. I used Adobe® GoLive® to create our 2003 site. Adobe® Dreamweaver® replaced GoLive® in 2008. Since that time I have nursed our version of GoLive® along to do simple updates.

We purchased Dreamweaver® in 2008 but I didn't feel that I had the time to devote to learning the new program until I heard someone say how outdated our site looked. That gave me the push I needed to open the software and go through the training to get it started.

The 2003 site took about three months to build. The new site took six weeks. This included the work we did with a hired FileMakerPro consultant who created the pages that serve our cemetery search engine. The most time consuming aspects of the website are those places where we use the site to collect fees with links to PayPal.

On June 21, 2010 we launched our new website. The new site was created for two reasons. First, the software I used to build our old site had been discontinued for a few years and we had been nursing it along to get it to do updates. Secondly, we finally added a search component to the site.

Visitors can now search the over 86,000 names in our single largest database and request either or both internment information or an obituary lookup. Searches are tied to PayPal; which collects a $5.00 fee per lookup for OTCHS. This is a service people desire and should raise much needed revenue to help us continue our work collecting information on the people of Otter Tail County.

We hired Tim Cimbura, with Cimbura.com Technology out of Minneapolis, to set up our search screens.  We had been looking for someone with the skills and expertise with Apple, FileMaker and web development and through the Minnesota Association of School Administrators we found Cimbura.com Technology. All of the work Tim did for us was done from his home office. We used the telephone, Skype, and email to communicate. We have so many databases to share with the world but we lack the expertise needed to make them available. Now that we found Cimbura.com we only lack the funds to pay him to set up our next online search experience.

We may be unable to be on the cutting edge of technology but we are making an effort to keep our web presence looking tidy and offer web surfers a taste of what we have to offer. We hope it also encourages them to visit us in person.

Opportunities to become or renew membership, shop for a book from our gift shop, donate to our many important causes, request research, find out what events and exhibits we have going on and what we are planning in the near future, are just some of the things people can do and see on our website.

LeAnn Neuleib is keeping our Facebook page updated. All of these new internet sites and tools are cool and definitely something that people are using. We would like to have more Facebook friends. Make sure, if you are on Facebook, that you join our group or "like" our page. 

I would love to hear that you checked out our website and if you can think of ways to improve our web presence, and especially if you have the knowledge and skills to help us make it better, let me know.

~Kathy M.L. Evavold