Launching a new White Water Writers homepage!

Over the last few days I’ve complately rebuilt

It was a very generic site advertising an academic project to strangers and now it’s for our writers to see the results of their work. It took quite the mental shift to go from ‘we are running educational interventions’ to ‘we are a publisher that runs social interventions’ and the website change is part of that shift. We might lose a little bit of random buisness, but the our writers will get more our of their time with us.

I personally don’t think we’ll lose much buisness. White Water Writers is a complex project that produces incredible results and nobody really believes in it until they see it working. That’s made worse by the half dosen companies that claim to do what we do, but don’t. The result is that most of our work is repeat work, and the vast marjority of our new work is by referral (a suprising amount of our new work is ‘teacher from previous school moves to new school and calls us’).   This isn’t a project that grows because of advertising; it’s a project that grows because teachers rave about it.

That means our website is mostly likely to be used by people we already work with (teachers, writers, parents of writers), or people who have already heard of us and want to check us out. It’s not a place for us to sell directly to faceless individuals.

That’s actually quite freeing – that means that the website doesn’t have to worry about sales funnels or collecting emails, we can make it exactly how we like.

I decided to keep it simple. We publish books, so we should have a book publisher’s website.

This has a bunch of advantages:

  • It feels right. A lot of the value we give to our writers is that this is a real project and they really are publishing. So we should support that in every way we can.
  • It makes the books central rather than the process – and only I’m interested in the process.
  • It’s one simple angle: The project has to balance a research side, a process side, an advertising side, a charity development side and a parent-facing side. That’s a nightmare to write copy for on the same website and leaves us messy. This website is going to be about what our writers have produced and everything else can go on

From the technical side, this version will be easier to maintain and cheaper to host than the previous one (It’s Github Pages rather than WordPress). I learned a lot putting it together and while I was doing it I migrated our email services away from a expensive host that I’ve grown to dislike (Dreamhost) to a free host that I trust (Google Suite). I suspect that all future sites will be on Github Pages. You can read about all the technical challenges at the project issue.

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