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Isle of Avalon website

The Isle of Avalon website was a website for the small but interesting town of Glastonbury in SW England. It has a long and varied history and a lively and unconventional community atmosphere.

www.isleofavalon.co.uk

The site has several sections presenting tourist information, but other parts act as online resources serving people whose interests are reflected in Glastonbury, or as simple public interest material. The site attracts quite a few researchers.I ran this town portal from 1998-2007. It was founded in 1996 by my early web-mentor, Barry Hoon whom I assisted as a content-creator, taking over in 1998. He helped out with technical programming thereafter. The site featured the traditions and modern life of Glastonbury, an interesting place to serve. It had a significant impact on the economic turnover of the town.

The biggest single item of feedback from its visitors, apart from "great site!", sent thanks for having no advertising - it was genuinely an impartial community site, ahead of its time and, by 2001, one of Britain's biggest small-town websites.

The IsleofAvalon was a vast site with many sections to it, covering many different aspects of the town's traditions and modern-day realities. It took years to build up. About 50% of the writing and 25% of the photos were done by me, and the rest was contributed by a host of local residents.

The site had several sections presenting tourist information, stimulating the town's main industry - though once people were hooked they were passed over to the town's complementary site glastonbury.co.uk for visitor information.

Other parts acted as online resources serving people worldwide who were interested in Glastonbury and what it represented. There was also public interest material - such as re-published out-of-print books, before the days of e-books. The site attracted quite a few researchers, particularly from the media and universities.

This was a graphics-rich site, speaking to visitors visually and atmospherically as much as through reading material. Each section had different colours and background graphics. This visual component greatly affected interest and visitor rates.

Foot-fall on the main street of Glastonbury was increased by 10-12% after some years, raising the turnover of the town by a significant degree. This has a large local economic multiplier effect since most shops and businesses were locally-run, not part of branded chains - and this was one asset which attracted many people.

The site's complexity made navigability a crucial issue. Each section had its own navigation bar on the left but, at the bottom, there were small links to the other sections of the site or to the following page or related pages.

Very much a hand-made site designed with hand-written coding, every part of the site was A team of about ten of us collaboratively run the public service web facilities for Glastonbury, and I'm the PR and outreach man, and I create the interesting content exposing the unique creative wealth of the town.individually tailored and designed, with a distinctive flavour.

IsleofAvalon was part of a web of three main public-service sites in Glastonbury. It worked alongside glastonbury.co.uk, run by Glastonbury Online, which provided comprehensive information listings. The Avalon Connections site catalogued links to all sites connected with Glastonbury, local and global, that existed - over a hundred sites.

Glastonbury and its people were big early adopters on the worldwide web and in community networking.  IsleofAvalon played a large role in this. However, this was much superseded by the arrival of social networking sites such as Facebook, by 2005.

A team of about ten people collaboratively ran the public service web facilities for Glastonbury, almost completely unpaid, and I was in a way the PR and outreach man who created interesting content pulling in visitors and exposing to the world the unique creative wealth of the town of Glastonbury.

An attempt was made to fund these efforts in 2001 but they failed. However, there was an interesting twist here, since the non-commercial orientation of the site generated lots of business, particularly by people uninterested in corporate-style commercialism. An expert in the county council actually admitted that the IsleofAvalon site probably generated more economic effect than the council's own tourist site.

The site contained features about many parts of the Glastonbury and Mid-Somerset landscape. Above is a rather unique 360-degree panorama as seen from Glastonbury Tor. Left is a feature about Stone Down, an elevated area just below Glastonbury Tor.

There was also a connected site dedicated to Glastonbury Tor itself - its history, conservation, a photo collection and so on. There was also a complete illustrated catalogue of ancient sites within 25 miles of Glastonbury.

The site also contained an extensive section on Glastonbury's history, including out-of-print material from many sources written over the preceding century, together with a timeline of Glastonbury's 5-6,000 year history.

This included material about the traditions of Glastonbury, such as that of Joseph of Arimathea, the tunnels under the town, the Arthurian legends, early Christian saints, Goddess traditions and leylines, as well as sound historical material about the Abbey and the development of Glastonbury following the Abbey's dissolution.

One very popular section of the site was the Glastonbury Tarot, where visitors could have a high-quality tarot reading online. The words and images were done by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, advanced programming by Barry Hoon and design by me.

In 2007 I retired from running the Isleofavalon site (I left Glastonbury in 2008). It was a privilege to run it, with a lot of creativity, but hundreds of hours of unpaid hard work too.

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