(It seems like an age since we first launched this site five years ago. For those of you who have found us since then, here’s a retrospective. Part One was written at the time of our first birthday on 1 April 2001 – here’s an update…)
Having found a design we were more or less happy with, things stayed pretty much as they were for a good year or so. We made a few refinements – for instance, some of you told us we needed to give more information on the homepage about what each of the channels was about, and about the latest articles. So that resulted in a further facelift:
Meanwhile, we were becoming increasingly aware that the look of some of the ancillary parts of the site – eg the webmail service and the forum – weren’t keeping pace. The forum in particular was a freebie which had served us well enough in the early days, but was starting to creak a bit as our traffic grew. We wanted something that was much more user-friendly and professional looking, so in January 2003 we brought it in-house:
At more or less the same time we decided that we’d also outgrown our original webmail provider. Not only were we having to pay to keep their adverts off the system, we were also limited to just 100 users – and we’d already reached that limit. So, again, we set up our own database and webmail system, offering our readers the chance to sign up with their own name at mail.britishexpat.com:
We liked the colour schemes of these two applications, but they were a bit different from our existing yellow-and-blue. In the end we decided to apply the silver/blue look across the site and ended up with this:
As time went on, though, it became more and more clear that we were becoming too successful for our own good! The sheer number of our static pages was making navigation more cumbersome. So we decided it was time to move onto a dynamic content management system. And with the increasing takeup of broadband, we thought we could safely add a few pictures too. The new look went live on 11 March 2005, in time for our fifth birthday on 1 April!
Things change, of course, and we’ve already got more plans for future improvements. We hope you’ll keep coming back for the next five years and beyond!