Fire Department Web Site

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brobers
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Fire Department Web Site

Post by brobers » Fri May 18, 2007 5:27 am

Website URL: http://ctvfd.us/

Template:  jt_simplicity_green (Joomla-Templates)

Additional Extensions (Components, Modules, Plug ins): (C) Easy Gallery, (C) Events, (M) mod_noaaweather,

Custom Development: Modified colors of template, size/custom header graphics, and custom favicon.

Other Features: N/A

Three (at least) specific areas of my site that I'd like feedback on (design, code, graphics, etc.):

1) Formatting of news article and author presses into left menu buttons.  Not sure how to pad this so that they don't layer over one another.

2) Looking for a good way to easily add downloadable files to news articles.  I don't want a separate download section.  I want to put a short blurb about a PDF file and then have it linked to the article without having to FTP the file to the server and place a HREF to it in the news article.  We receive PDF flyers on trainings and updates from the state that I would like to post to the site as a downloadable item without embedding the item in the article like a Flash object or picture.  I can FTP and create a HREF but I am looking for something simple enough that an end user could type and article, pick a file to upload, and post to the site.  Yeah, I want alot.....

3) I found one Amber Alert module but could find little to no information on it.  Does anyone have a suggestion for an Amber Alert solution.  Similarly I wouldn't mind finding a Homeland Security Threat slider that shows the current level.  Since this is a Fire Department web site these items would be a nice inclusion.

Additional Comments: What can I do better with this site.  This is my first CMS based web site.  Our fire department was running static pages on a local hosts MS server.  It looked like ..... and didn't have the flexibility that this one does.  I worked on one CMS based site in college a year ago but never really dealt with the coding, just content and graphic design.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. 

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by Namsul » Fri May 18, 2007 8:12 am

I see this is your first CMS.
Maybe check out other sites in this section of the forum and the comments that are made regarding the different styles.

Without really commenting on the template and it's colors I think you really just need to do a little research not just about joomla templates but websites in general and what is and isn't considered to be good to entice people to come back.

Also see how people make use of the fact php makes the site dynamic. because the site still looks very much like a static site.

Good luck and respect to ya being Volunteer Firefighter
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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by drewhiggins » Fri May 18, 2007 10:54 am

Striking colour  :)

It's very informative and helpful. I haven't seen an Amber Alert mod doing the rounds but I'll post back here if I see one.
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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by brobers » Fri May 18, 2007 7:15 pm

drewhiggins wrote: Striking colour  :)
The color was chosen because our trucks are the same color yellow with a green reflective 3m stripe.  Even our station bay walls are painted the same way.  It really stands out.

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by brobers » Sat May 19, 2007 9:02 am

Namsul wrote: I see this is your first CMS.
Maybe check out other sites in this section of the forum and the comments that are made regarding the different styles.

Without really commenting on the template and it's colors I think you really just need to do a little research not just about joomla templates but websites in general and what is and isn't considered to be good to entice people to come back.

Also see how people make use of the fact php makes the site dynamic. because the site still looks very much like a static site.

Good luck and respect to ya being Volunteer Firefighter
Well on the subject of making it less static I do have an idea.  I'm just not sure how to implement it yet.  We have, in the fire service, a system called the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).  We document all of our runs into this system, submit it to the state, and they submit it to DHS.  My data is in a DBF file.  I used to run some SQL scripts on the data files, dump the raw data to Excel and let it save it in HTML format.  I then dumped that into a raw page to get a chart of run number, date/time started and date/time completed.  It let the public have a slight glimpse of the kinds of calls we went on and the amount of time we spent doing it.

I guess what I need to learn to do now is setup a new database within MYSQL and then build some PHP scripts to query that.  This may become a huge undertaking but it would really make a neat system.  It would be so much nicer to just be able to dump the raw data in and not have to post-process it any more.  Allowing the user to pick certain times, get graphs, or stuff like that on demand would be a neat.  I don't want to get real carried away though because for all my work this is a small community and I don't get that much traffic across the website.  It would be a good learning experience.  if anyone has any suggestions on a good place to start or specific books to read I would appreciate it.  I am well versed in database and web stuff but the stuff I manage at work and here for the fire department is 10+ year old web and database technology and I am a real newbie to PHP and dynamic web sites.  I understand the principles just not the how you do its.  I'm 40 years old and live in a very static world.  Time to head to the skate park to take a lesson and hopefully not break anything.  javascript:void(0);
Grin

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by Namsul » Sun May 20, 2007 4:35 am

What I was implying was more graphic and site layout stuff.
What I'de do re the database/SQL stuff is float ideas about what you need in forums where people who are expert or experienced.

What I was implying without trying to be rude was the yellow background really looks bad.
And the light green doesn't look much better.
I was kinda hoping you'de post a reason why you'de used the colors.
And honestly believe you can use what you want, but the purpose of this forum is to help people with critic's.
And I didn't really help much with my first one.
You must remember someone surfing at night checkin out sites stumbles across yours may have retina problems afterwards.(joking)
The nav menu is hard to read and my vision is fine. You must also remember there is a considerable percentage of people who are colorblind and they prolly couldn't read the menu and people with less than ideal vision would have problems.
Check out the free contaminated theme
Imagine your content inside the template.
The purpose of templates are to make sites unique and add borders to content so a page appears organized.
Now please don't think I am any kind of graphics or php genius.
Like many people here I've been making sites for 10 years.
Some good and some rubbish.
But I learned from all.
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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by MrRoyce » Sun May 20, 2007 1:39 pm

I agree with Namsul.  The site looks very amateurish, but that may be fine for your purposes.  If you are learning web development, Joomla! is as good as any other to get something up and running quickly.

If you want a professional looking site, then hire a graphic designer that will come up with a pleasing color scheme and layout.  If you don't want to do that, then just use one of the many good free templates and don't change the colors or layout.

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by iwebdesign » Sun May 20, 2007 3:23 pm

Hi,

I don't likt the color scheme. It's to aggressive to my eyes - it burns like a fire!  :D
The picture on the frontpage is of bad quality, I'd replace it.

Cheers!

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by matthewhayashida » Sun May 20, 2007 4:28 pm

Here is a Homeland Security mod: http://extensions.joomla.org/component/ ... Itemid,35/

A agree about the "amateurish" look. I would look for a new template and customize it to fit your needs. For templates, read these posts:
http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,25306.0.html
http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,71440.0.html
http://help.joomla.org/component/option ... temid,268/

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by brobers » Tue May 22, 2007 5:26 am

Thank you for all of the comments/suggestions on things about the site.  The goal was to not build a wild uber dynamic website.  The goal was to get away from static pages of HTML code and make it easier for someone other than me to write and post content to the site.  Also I wanted content control for members only.  As far as the photo on the front page goes I didn't take it.  I use a high end DSLR for my photography (I do stock photography).  Sometimes I have to work with photos submitted by others.  This picture was a case of that however it could be reduced in size to hide some of the artifact in it.  I'm not sure what to do about the color scheme but the yellow/green band is a standard of the agency.  I've looked at a lot of themes and so far this was one of the best styles for our content.  Choosing another theme and not changing the colors is not an option.  Also I'm no newbie when it comes to graphic design and general web development (I'm a systems analyst for a Fortune 100 company).  I'm just a newbie to PHP and content management based systems.  I still use static HTML for all the web sites I manage.  I guess I don't find the site to be as amateurish as some have said.  We are not a big city operation.  When you look at the other rural fire departments in our area trying to run a web site this one is top notch.  In fact I think, with the exception of colors and readability we have a more dynamic web site than even some big cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, and Dayton.  A lot of other fire department sites are nothing more than FrontPage built web pages.

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by Liberty Dog » Tue May 22, 2007 4:31 pm

Well, the color scheme is what it is.  Aside from the aesthetics, I think presenting the news in "blog" format rather than your current format would be a navigation improvement.  That way people wouldn't need to drill down so far to read news articles.

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by southern » Thu May 24, 2007 11:08 pm

I do have to agree with the color.  Though your equipment may match that color, which I actually like for F/R equipment, it does not work on the site.  Take a little bit of time and look around for some templates.  SInce you are a volunteer fire department, if you find something that you like, if it is a paid template, just ask, the designer might be willing to donate it to you.

I am also a director of a vfd and several other non-profits.  Though I do not have my vfd site up yet, you can get out a couple of the others that we hav.  Not the best sites in the world, but I feel that they work quite well.

Kaufman County CERT - http://www.kccert.org
Kaufman County ARES - http://www.kaufman-ares.org

Disaster Services International, Inc. - http://www.disasterservice.org - site a work in progress, until I find a template I like better.

You can compare it to my non-CMS site, that will be converted soon, http://www.southernrescue.org

Good look and if you wish, please feel free to shot me an email.

Chris Hodgdon
Chief

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by bludot » Fri May 25, 2007 12:22 pm

G'day pal.  I really like your site... even after first reading the other posts.

Things I would change though....

In the menu I would remove the weather module.  It would be more useful to display your local weather.

If you could I would left align your menu headings as it will then fit in with your menu.

Is it possible to add a seperator between your modules?  At the moment everything looks a tad cluttered.

The font used for the front page news is a bit in your face.., it would nice if it was a normal size. 

Maybe Hide the Author name for the news items that currently say Administrator or dont display it at all for all news items.

In your news area it still says "The latest news from the Joomla! Team" - you might want to fix that

A rule of thumb I try to avoid is to have sections that are 'under development' or that dont contain anything.. like your FAQ menu item. I would unpublish it for the time being, then when you have faqs to add, publish it.

I really like the photos... I like the calendar.  I like the menu how it has the shield etc. 
The colour is in your face BUT as you said, it fits in with your trucks etc.

Maybe on top of the Search textbox display the Title 'Search' even though it is implied.. it will fit in with the rest of the left side.

A suggestion if you are after some more content, would be to add some coloring pictures for kids maybe.. Ive seen other emergency services sites do that - I download/print them for my kids.

Good effort!

BTW: Ive been after a photo gallery for my site.. and the one you use might just fit my needs to.  The calendar works well too.. the ones I have tried just havent worked for me.  I might try the one you use too.

Regards,

Jason (Melbourne, AUS)

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by brobers » Fri May 25, 2007 6:21 pm

bludot wrote: In the menu I would remove the weather module.  It would be more useful to display your local weather.

If you could I would left align your menu headings as it will then fit in with your menu.

Is it possible to add a seperator between your modules?  At the moment everything looks a tad cluttered.

The font used for the front page news is a bit in your face.., it would nice if it was a normal size. 

Maybe Hide the Author name for the news items that currently say Administrator or dont display it at all for all news items.

In your news area it still says "The latest news from the Joomla! Team" - you might want to fix that

A rule of thumb I try to avoid is to have sections that are 'under development' or that dont contain anything.. like your FAQ menu item. I would unpublish it for the time being, then when you have faqs to add, publish it.

I really like the photos... I like the calendar.  I like the menu how it has the shield etc. 
The colour is in your face BUT as you said, it fits in with your trucks etc.

Maybe on top of the Search textbox display the Title 'Search' even though it is implied.. it will fit in with the rest of the left side.

A suggestion if you are after some more content, would be to add some coloring pictures for kids maybe.. Ive seen other emergency services sites do that - I download/print them for my kids.

BTW: Ive been after a photo gallery for my site.. and the one you use might just fit my needs to.  The calendar works well too.. the ones I have tried just havent worked for me.  I might try the one you use too.
Well I have changed the theme of the site from the original jt_simplicity_green to  pfoetchen_v2 (http://www.web-professor.de).  It had kind of the core color we use and a more clean (white background look) to the main body section.  I fixed a couple of things related to fonts and display such as flashing titles for news items.  I still need to work on the indentation of news items.  I have ditched the NOAA weather module.  I wasn't very good anyway and not really what I was after.  As far as the "Joomla Team" news thing I haven't figured out where that is at yet.  I want it gone and was trying to fix it last night.  The FAQ section has things in it but some aren't published yet and some are only visible to members.  Not sure if there is a way to make it not show up to non-logged in users.  I'll try to put some content up for public soon to correct the area being empty.  Thanks also for the suggestion on coloring pages or pictures for kids.  I haven't thought about that as far as content.  That will take a little more work to find original, uncopyrighted content that I can publish.  The Easy Gallery photo gallery was the first one I tried out when I set this up and it has worked very well.  Like everything else it is good that I can post public and private content.  That was the biggest plus.  There are pictures that are ok for members to see but not for the public.  Thanks for all of your suggestions.  They are of great help.

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by southern » Sat May 26, 2007 12:54 am

What were you looking for in a weather module?

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by southern » Sat May 26, 2007 1:13 am

Also, what photo gallery did you use?

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by brobers » Sat May 26, 2007 1:45 am

southern wrote: Also, what photo gallery did you use?
I used Easy Gallery for the photos.  I saw a weather add-on that showed a specific sites weather as an icon for 1-2 days and went under the user menu on the left hand side of the screen.  I think that would be better to show specific weather for Cloverdale, IN rather than make the user enter in a location they want the weather for.  Most people will only care about our local weather.

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by southern » Sat May 26, 2007 7:38 pm

You can use the same one that we did on our sites, http://www.kaufman-ares.org and http://www.kccert.org, it is the z weather module and it allowed us to plug in the local information needed for our forecasts.  That is the module we use and the one I will be using on our VFD site once I have it ready.  You just have to take a few minutes and visit the NWS website to get the information that you need, which I would be more than happy to hepl you with.

If you have a myspace page, send me your link and I will add you to my myspace IM service and we can work together online if you wish, and you have myspace IM, otherwise feel free to email me.

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by southern » Sat May 26, 2007 9:26 pm

Another suggestion, on the photo gallery, I personally like the ability to open the images in the light box, or whatever you wish to call it, but you need to rezise the original images that way, when they do open, they only fill-up to window so much and not completely.  When I look at the images of your trucks and open it up, I have to scroll up and down and to the sides to see it all.  Thoguh some people might have a screen that would display it, I think that the original image size of 1800x1200 pixels is way to big.  I wouls suggest no larger than 800x533 pixels or there about.  If the original is actually 1800x1200, you need to use your image program to reduce it. 

If your program will not do that, I use Adobe Photoship and I can rezise those photos for you to that size.  Make all the images no more or less than 800 wide and the program would keep the height in porporation to the image.  If you would like to use my help, see if you can zip up your images and email them to me and I will be more than happy to help, in exchange for a link, between our sites.

Chris

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by Namsul » Sat May 26, 2007 9:57 pm

Huge improvement on site.
Prolly the only thing which is a little hard on the eyes is the green links/text.
If you feel you must use that color on a yellow background consider making them bold

Once again well done on the vastly improved template.
Looks very professional easy to navigate and fast loading.
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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by matthewhayashida » Sat May 26, 2007 11:37 pm

Looks way better. Great job.

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Re: Fire Department Web Site

Post by snoop168 » Sat Oct 17, 2009 4:19 pm

brobers wrote:Well on the subject of making it less static I do have an idea. I'm just not sure how to implement it yet. We have, in the fire service, a system called the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). We document all of our runs into this system, submit it to the state, and they submit it to DHS. My data is in a DBF file. I used to run some SQL scripts on the data files, dump the raw data to Excel and let it save it in HTML format. I then dumped that into a raw page to get a chart of run number, date/time started and date/time completed. It let the public have a slight glimpse of the kinds of calls we went on and the amount of time we spent doing it.
for My FD we get calls text messaged by our dispatch center. They essentially come through and e-mail address so I asked them to add an e-mail address to their list. The messages are always in the exact same format so I built a java program to run in a loop, constantly checking e-mail inbox and then breaking apart these messages into their separate "fields". It then takes these fields and inserts a new record into a mySQL database. The mySQL database could then be queried through a PHP script on the website. Right now we just simply total the amount of calls for the month and the previous 11 months and display them. The good thing about this is that it is live, no users have to enter the call, and no one has to run any reports and dump data into the mySQL database.


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