Official website launch!

The new MyHouseMyStreet website, developed with the assistance of an HLF grant, is launched today. it's taken us over two years to get from initial concept to this point and it's wonderful to see the new site go live.

Not all of the functionality is yet implemented but it’s great to see this day, at last. The remainder of the site's capabilities will be added over the next few months as testing is completed. To stay abreast of what's happening with the website and the larger project, sign up for our MHMS newsletter, via the website.

The blog component of the new site has been available to users for some time now and the first entries have appeared. I wonder what the first blog to appear will be, now we have launched the website!

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By way of a recap as to how the MHMS project has arrived at its current status, I've set out a brief timeline below:

Brighton & Hove Open Door 2008 - trial of a new concept we christened The Foundry Street Event.

Brighton & Hove Open Door 2009 - an enlarged trial of The Foundry Street Event, involving four streets, the events now christened: MyHouseMyStreet.

Brighton & Hove Open Door 2009 was a great success. There were more events and more participants than ever before and we noted a hugely positive response. Griff Rhys Jones, the Heritage Open Days team and English Heritage representatives came down to join in with BHOD and we received a lot of press coverage.

Late-2009, we resolved to take on the challenge of developing an even larger BHOD event than was staged in 2010 and to find a way of further developing the MHMS project.

Over Christmas 2009 and early-2010, we held long MHMS planning meetings and concluded that to evolve the project meaningfully we were going to have to secure a grant from the HLF.

By mid-2010, we had assembled a MHMS development plan and an application for HLF funding.

Our proposals called for improved website interactivity, offering visitors the means to contribute commentary, information, and source materials. We wanted to provide a compelling online experience for MHMS website visitors and a great outreach programme.

In July, we completed our Heritage Lottery Fund application. By early-September we were informed that the application had been successful.

It was then time to turn our attentions to the 2010 Brighton & Hove Open Door festival. MyHouseMyStreet returned to our local streets.

Somehow, even with everything else going on we still managed to increase the number of activities offered and the attendance over 2009 figures. The weather rather interrupted our BHOD plans and much of the work prepared had to be taken to the Brighton Dome and exhibited there due to the rain but still enthusiastic people found us and offered assistance with future development.

The HLF funded project really got going after BHOD 10. We were now considering the interfaces of the website, how visitors might interact with the system, we were developing wireframes - representations of the bones and muscle of a website that outline the structure and functionality - the skinning of the site with a graphical design.

Our initial sketches were grand in scale, and included Facebook style messaging features and all sorts of features that we later agreed visitors would not prefer. 

At times, it felt that progress was painful. However, as we went around the issues again and again and negotiated with partners to obtain features that would improve the eventual website beyond anything we had initially imagined, we could see the potential and promise forming and it kept us all working.

As we entered in 2011, the wireframes were mostly complete and the graphical look of the site established. By February, the final build process was underway.

As icing on the cake, Meridian Tonight contacted us with a view to creating TV news programmes about the upcoming 2011 UK Census and linking these to the MHMS project. What a fantastic way to spread the work about the work we are doing.

We have created the means for those interested in the project to sign up for a regular MHMS newsletter and to pre-register their interest in collaborating with the project as Account holders.

Now it's time to assess response to the offer.