Scottish Pool Association Website

scottish pool association web site

 A great deal of time and effort went into the creation of a new Scottish Pool Association website over much of 2013 and into the following year. The emphasis was on creating an on-line system which improved communication between those who run the Scottish Pool Association and that organisation's membership.
It was believed a well-presented and regularly updated website would better represent the interests of both leagues and players and help to promote the game of blackball pool in Scotland.

The site was designed and set up so that information could to be added in a structured way. This meant content could be input directly by both SPA officials and league representatives.
Take the events calendar as an example. For the first time a structure was in place which ensured that the information displayed about upcoming pool events was as comprehensive as it possibly could be. Details of events were easy to add and subsequently quickly found on the various lists and calendars.
Providing accurate and up-to-date content was the priority.

It was also decided to develop the site to a modern, responsive design. The site layout was flexible and automatically responded to the user's preferences. The content could be easily read when viewed on any device, be that a personal computer, tablet or mobile phone.
The image at the top of this article demonstrates how a responsive site adapts to varying screen size.

Another important requirement of the new site was that there should be less dependence on forums to keep SPA members informed. A discussion forum is far from ideal in keeping an organisation's membership in touch with what's happening. Information held in a forum can be difficult to locate and when found it's often uncertain whether it's the very latest on the subject.
Incidentally there have been attempts to use social media applications to keep the SPA membership informed.
Useful for immediate news and announcements, the likes of Facebook and Twitter have serious limitations when it comes to tracking down previously posted information and again there's no way of being sure that content is fully up-to-date.
The evidence for this is that players frequently post that they were unaware of decisions regarding SPA events. Unsurprising if the information is buried deep within an old Facebook post.

Fundamental to the success of the new website was that all content was to be prepared and uploaded by registered members of the site. Those held responsible for maintaining site content included SPA officials, league representatives and international team managers.
Authorship, that is the right to publish and edit content, was determined by a system of 'roles and permissions'.
SPA administrators were asked to collaborate to decide who was to be responsible for updating various sections of the site. It was then up to the selected individuals to ensure the web pages for which they were responsible were kept up-to-date.
For example SPA executive members were given authorship rights relating to their own role and responsibilities within the organisation; whilst league and other regional representatives were entitled to publish pages and vote in polls on behalf of their affiliated pool league or areas.
With this approach there could be no doubt about who was responsible for providing and updating content. If site users came across unmaintained web pages or out-of-date content it was immediately clear who was responsible and who should be called upon to bring the page up-to-date.
To achieve these aims the site made extensive use of formatted content forms. These were on-line customised forms designed to make it simple for the designated site authors to add, save and edit their own content.

A system was put in place to allow on-line voting.
There were immediate and obvious advantages, not least being greater transparency in the voting process. And with the support of the majority of league representatives the system was successfully tried out on three occasions.
It proved far more democratic and efficient than has ever been possible through ill-attended meetings. There was no longer an opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to manipulate the voting process.

At the start of 2014 the vast majority of affiliated league representatives (around 40) had registered and were contributing to the site. Sadly their efforts were not matched by those running the organisation.
By April 2014 it had become clear that several key SPA administrators were either unable or unwilling to support the new site and would never do so.
For whatever reasons they failed to comprehend the benefits to both themselves and SPA members of making a success of the website.

Last but not least a transparent and fair selection process was introduced for those to be chosen to represent Scotland at international event. The process was managed through the website.
It would hopefully put an end to legitimate accusations of cronyism.
It was not long before that new process was abandoned.

Today (2015) there is even less openness in the decision-making process with several restricted access forums springing up on the SPA's web site.
As regards voting, there have been occasions when SPA executive members have outnumbered league representatives attending meetings. Given that the executive have full voting rights the implications ought to be self-evident.

An ongoing, independent survey of the Scottish Pool Association indicates a general discontent with the manner in which that organisation's online presence and finances are managed but there's more positive feedback on the quality of individual and team tournaments.

All in all this was an opportunity lost. An opportunity more than likely never to be repeated given the months of coding work carried out to prepare customised software to meet the specific needs of the organisation.